KAMPALA – The third Phase of FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) Project has been successfully launched to upscale and increase commercial production and productivity in cereals, livestock and fish.
This phase follows the successful Phase 1 and 2 of the SSC project which facilitated the exchange of resources and technologies between Uganda and China, from which thousands of farmers across Uganda benefitted.
Through a tripartite arrangement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Peoples’ Republic of China and the Government of Uganda, Uganda has for the last decade been implementing the FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) project to address priority constraints affecting key agricultural sub-sectors-crop, fisheries and livestock and the commodities within those sub-sectors, in order to elevate farmers and communities and provide access to alternatives and solutions to issues ranging from market accessibility to environmental factors.
Lauched on Friday at Kajjansi Aquaculture Research and Development Center, Kampala by Vice President, Maj Jessica Alupo, the 3rd phase project focuses on innovative technology transfers, high-yield rice and foxtail millet production, livestock management, and the development of aquaculture value chains, to improve the food security, nutrition, lives and livelihoods of thousands of farmers.
Through the multi-million-dollar project, stakeholders intend to build the capacity of policy and technical staff, private sector and farmers, including women, youth and other marginalized groups of people in utilising improved Chinese agricultural technologies, but also to facilitate agricultural investment, agro-industrialization and trade.
Anticipated to positively impact thousands of Ugandans, the project is being implemented in the districts: Alebtong, Amuria, Apac, Budaka, Bugiri, Bukedea, Butaleja, Dokolo, Ibanda, Iganga, Isingiro, Kaberamaido, Kalungu, Katakwi, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kole, Kumi, Lira, Luwero, Mbarara, Mpigi, Namutumba, Ngora, Otuke, Oyam, Palisa, Serere, Soroti and Wakiso.
Speaking during the inception workshop, Madam Vice President commended FAO and the Peoples’ Republic of China upon the development, noting that it will ensure food and nutrition security and reduce multi-dimensional poverty but also develop agriculture in Uganda.
“China, over the past 60 years has been seen to demonstrate genuine friendship through significant contributions to Uganda’s transformation in the fields of Foreign Direct Investment, Infrastructure development, manufacturing and trade, revolutionizing of agriculture, among others. Equally, the long-standing relationship between the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations cannot be overemphasised. In collaboration with the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture, we have received needed support from FAO in areas of enhancing nutrition, increasing agricultural productivity, contributing to value addition and Uganda’s agro-processing drive, among others,” she appreciated.
Madam VP encouraged Ugandan farmers to make use of these Chinese Cooperants for knowledge and skills transfer as well as increase investment in agro-production and processing as catalyst for household transformation.
She says that through agriculture, Uganda shall be able to catalytically trigger the desired economic recovery and contribute to the sustained social-economic transformation.
Alupo also interested Chinese investors to come and invest in Uganda’s Agricultural Sector especially in agro-processing and building market linkages.
Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Zhang Lizhong noted that his country has contributed over 130 million US Dollars to FAO Cooperation Programme, and dispatched over 1000 experts to countries in the South since 1996. He says 25 projects have been implemented successfully, 100,000 smallholder farmers in developing countries benefited directly and millions more indirectly.
For phase III, he noted that China will contribute about USD 2.4 million.
“In the South-South cooperation, China and Uganda are deemed to be, respectively, “partner country” and “host country”, rather than “donor country” and “recipient country”, and the two governments adhere to the principle of balance of power and responsibility, in which mutual respect, equal consultation and full cooperation are the key for the successful implementation of the projects.”
On the same note, Zhang appreciated that the launched project will directly support a minimum of 9,600 farmers, of whom at least 30% will be women, as well as provide training for 200 Ugandan technical officers.
He noted that China will not only aid Uganda with funding but also buying her goods.
“In addition to the phase III project officially incepted today, from Dec 1, 2022, the zero-tariff treatment for 98% taxable items to Uganda by China came into force,” he said, adding that “China welcomes more high value-added products from Uganda, and will support Uganda in making good use of the latest zero-tariff policy to expand its export to China.”
Ms Beth Bechdol, Deputy Director-General, FAO commended Uganda for her strong and continued commitment and support to the project.
“Your commitment of USD 9.6 million for a Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) is one of a kind. It is the most significant contribution by a Least Developed Country, beneficiary nation, for a South-South Project.”
She says that this project has the potential to further catalyze additional private sector financing and investment to ensure large-scale and long-lasting impact on the ground.
Bechdol urged the stakeholders to elaborate the work plan and to set in place an effective monitoring mechanism to keep track of progress made and of results achieved.
“We got the opportunity to learn about the project objectives, foreseen challenges and the expected results. It’s an ambitious project, but one that can be realized with the support of all stakeholders,” she said.
She committed FAO’s continued support to ensure a successful implementation of Phase III.
On her part, Ms. Susan Ngongi Namondo, UN Resident Coordinator said that the first two phases of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation project in Uganda were “the hallmark of knowledge and skills transfer between China and Uganda and capacity development of agriculture personnel.”
“Through study tours in Uganda and China, the introduction of high-yielding crop varieties and improved practices, the project has been a catalyst for agriculture transformation and can be a veritable vehicle to deliver national aspirations and the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.
Ms. Namondo also challenged the sector players to employ the same modalities in other areas of development cooperation like climate change, public health crises, inequality and limited energy access so that they can also benefit from the Cooperation.
“We believe that South-South Cooperation can unlock the required finances to support the transformation of economies like Uganda and strengthen environment protection and sustainable development at the same time.”
However, to harness the solutions emanating from solidarity in South-South Cooperation, Namondo says interventions must involve young people, civil society, the private sector and academia, to build innovative partnerships and increase the sustainability of interventions.
Dr. Rwamirama Bright Kanyontore, Minister of State for Agriculture is optimistic that this project will strengthen Win-Win cooperation between China and Uganda towards ensuring food and nutrition security, reducing multi-dimensional poverty and developing agriculture in Uganda.
“Over the past decade, this cooperation has continued to deepen with successful implementation of Phases; I and II of the China Uganda South-South Cooperation Projects. These were achieved through fielding 47 Chinese Cooperants to Uganda. These Technical Assistance Projects benefited over 11,000 participants and supported our agricultural sector strategic direction of transforming subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.”
Minister notes the need to transform Uganda’s agricultural sector through causing increase in productivity and income for people since over 68% of Uganda’s population remain largely dependent on agriculture with minimal contribution to the money economy of the country.
“The project demonstrated positive results like attracting Kehong investment into an Agricultural Industrial Park in Luwero (Ugx720Billion), increase in rice productivity in Butaleja and improved survivability of fish fingerlings. I believe with the support of the Chinese Cooperants, and FAO’s coordination, MAAF and its local counterparts will upscale and commercialize Chinese hybrid rice production, foxtail millet production, livestock and aquaculture production, promote trade and investment in order to contribute to transformation of the Agricultural sector and National economy of Uganda,” he noted.
At the event, the Embassy of China in Uganda handed over a fleet of vehicles to VP Alupo who also passed it to the Ministry of Agriculture.