KAMPALA – The United Nations –UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, H.E. Rosa Malango the East African country has the capacity of becoming Africa’s food heart.
H.E. Malongo made the remarks on Wednesday at Kampala Serena Hotel while addressing participants who turned up for ‘a high-level’ dialogue on food systems in Uganda.
The workshop, which UN agencies, Food and Agricultural Organisation – FAO in partnership with Environmental Programme – UNEP as well as Development Programme – UNDP convened under theme: ‘Collaborating to Accelerate Food Systems Transformation in Uganda,’ attracted participants from various stakeholders – including ministries, development partners, private sectors, civil society and academia amongst others.
Participants deliberated on a wide-range of issues related to food and agriculture but focused more on National Policies and Plans related to Food System Transformation, which includes; the National Development Plan III 2021-2025; the National Zero Hunger Strategy 2020-2030; and the National Agro-industrialization Action Plan – PIAP 2021-2025.
“……I am pleased to join today’s High-Level Workshop on ‘Collaborating to Accelerate Food Systems Transformation in Uganda,’ which is part of the national dialogues in preparation of the UN Secretary General’s Food Systems Summit later this year,” stated H.E. Malongo.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced that a Food Systems Summit will be staged in September in New York – alongside the UN General Assembly. The Summit targets to raise global awareness and shape commitments that can transform food systems to resolve hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and restore the planetary health.
“The Food Systems Summit will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all the 17 SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.
“It also aims to awaken the world to the fact that we must work together to transform the way the world produces, handles, consumes and thinks about food. This effort is critical if we are to achieve the SDGs during this last decade of action,” she said.
H.E. Malongo called upon everyone to take action in transforming food system in the country, stressing that the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda was the national convener for these dialogues supported by line Ministries; the UN and the National Planning Authority.
“As Uganda undertakes country level dialogues like the one today, it is an opportune time to reflect on our food systems to ensure that they are inclusive, provide an opportunity for those most at risk of being left behind to join sustainable value chains, that they help protect the environment and by helping Uganda achieve the 2030 Agenda we also contribute to national readiness for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
“Today’s workshop represents a unique opportunity to reinforce the alignment between the various food systems related strategies, policies and programs by the Government, UN agencies, development partners, the private sector and civil society.
“Similar to many other African countries, Uganda’s food system is facing challenges on several fronts –from poverty and food insecurity to the burden of malnutrition; from low levels of competitiveness within the agri-food sector to the impact of climate change on productivity and smallholders’ livelihoods; from population growth and urbanisation to the growing pressure on natural resources and ecosystems such as wetlands.
“Further, as part of its National Development Plan III -2021-2025; the National Zero Hunger Strategy 2020- 2030; the Green Growth Development Strategy and the Agro-Industrialization Action Plan 2021-2025; – Uganda is keen to adopt innovative technologies and foster digitalisation to propel and modernise its agri-food system using a green growth approach. This is the best possible pathway to lift millions of Ugandans out of poverty and food insecurity, giving them the opportunity to become active stakeholders in modern, environment friendly food systems,” stressed H.E Malongo.
She noted that Uganda had identified four critical sectors to spur its socio-economic transformation, with agriculture taking the lead.
According the UN envoy, statistics show that 65% of the Ugandan population engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing, of which 71 percent are women – the reason there is a need to dialogue on efficiency, inclusiveness, innovation and productivity.
“The five action tracks of the Food Systems Summit, include; Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all; Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns; Boosting nature-positive production; Advancing equitable livelihoods; and Building resistance to vulnerabilities shocks and stresses. Today’s deliberations can reflect on these tracks as we review how to accelerate the socio-economic transformation of Uganda’s food systems,” she said adding: “We cannot aim to achieve more efficient and inclusive food systems without looking into the health implications. The ongoing Covid – 19 pandemic has been a harsh reminder of the need to forge closer links between building resilient food systems and promoting healthy living.
“We must work closely with farmers and experts to sustain the quality of food production, to improve the postharvest handling, processing and distribution.
“We must train more Ugandans, particularly youth on new methods to ensure national food systems are environmentally friendly, are inclusive and meet necessary health related standards.
“We are confident that Uganda can become the Food hub for Africa. With agriculture contributing 24% of GDP (of the country,) during these challenging financial times, I am pleased to reiterate our commitment to support the transformation of Uganda’s food systems. On behalf of the United Nations system in Uganda, I reiterate our commitment to support this journey guided by our UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2021-2025, which is our roadmap to support implementation of the SDGs, the NDPIII, the National Vision 2040 and the Africa Agenda 2063.
Let us work together to create sustainable jobs, improve food production, handling and consumption while helping Uganda achieve its vision of enhanced prosperity for all,” she told participants, who included many online followers from different corners of the world.
FAO Representative to Uganda, Mr Antonio Querido highlighted, in his opening statement, the objectives of the workshop as laid down by the UN. He noted that the Food Systems Summit targets to launch new action that would transform the way people produce and consume food in a bid to deliver the 17-Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs through a viable approach that interconnects much needed solutions to the agricultural challenges.
The Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries – MAAIF, Mr Pius Wakabi, who stood in for the line minister as well as government noted the workshop was timely because it was a springboard in fine-tuning stakeholders to prepare better ahead of the Food Systems Summit in September.
He added that the vision of his ministry was to transform the sector from substance farming to commercial agriculture; from food security and nutrition to job creation; and increase farmers’ incomes through export earnings.
“The ministry of Agriculture highly associates with theme of the day; ‘Collaborating the Transformation of Food Systems in Uganda,’ because it links very well in the government planning -specifically in line with NDIII….it also recognises the various roles each players is putting in ……..,” noted Wakabi, shortly before officially closing the dialogue.