KAMPALA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representation in Uganda officially kicked off the process of developing its five-year Country Programming Framework for Uganda, with a high-level meeting of stakeholders in the food and agriculture sector. The meeting held on 13 November 2020 at the Kampala Serena Hotel and attended by representatives from the Government of Uganda ministries, agencies and departments, the UN system, private sector, civil society, academia, the farming community and development organizations, will lay the foundation of FAO’s focus areas in Uganda from 2021-2025.
FAO Uganda Country Programming Framework (CPF) provides a roadmap to achieve FAO’s vision for “A world free of hunger and malnutrition, where food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all, especially the poorest, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner”. The FAO Uganda CPF will reflect the aspirations of Uganda, as enshrined in the recently launched third National Development Plan (NDP III). The latter makes a radical change in the way Uganda looks at its own development; preferring a programme-based approach to advance agriculture, including promoting agro-industrialization and shock-proofing agriculture from climatic shocks and non-climatic stressors.
To inform the CPF development process, FAO conducted a survey among partners, colleagues and stakeholders, about its work in Uganda. Preliminary feedback called for the organization to become vocal and visible in advocating for change in the agriculture sector, sustain its focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation, emphasize market-oriented agriculture, work toward gender parity in the sector, address the root causes of food and nutrition insecurity and enhance the resilience of agriculture-based livelihoods.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Pius Wakabi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, representing the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)- Honorable Vincent
Ssempijja thanked FAO for over four decades of cooperation with the Government of Uganda and recognized the opportunity presented by the CPF, to harmonize FAO’s work with that of MAAIF, to change the face of agriculture in this country.
“We appreciate the tremendous efforts of FAO in ensuring that the agriculture sector thrives even in hard times, including the current COVID -19 pandemic”, he said. “Our efforts should be directed at promoting investments in the sector for increased incomes and employment, food security and wealth creation and to achieve our target of increasing agricultural exports from the current USD 1.4Bn to USD 4Bn annually”, he added.
The new FAO Uganda CPF will be anchored in United Nations’ Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for Uganda, a framework through which the United Nations in Uganda, including FAO, is supporting the Government of Uganda to address national priorities and gaps in their pathway towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Cooperation Framework supports the development and social transformation; it offers options for inclusive, diversified and job-intensive economic development, and promotes access to and the use of basic social and protection services that advances human rights and well-being.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda Ms Rosa Malango emphasized the need to actively engage and listen to the voices from key stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
“If agro-industrialization is to take its rightful place as the primary source of jobs, wealth creation, trade and innovation, we must ensure that we actively listen to all the voices involved in agriculture particularly those of women and young people. Market women associations, farmers groups, community-based organizations and saving cooperatives, are some of the partners who must be part of defining new approaches to food security in the new global environment,” Ms Malango said.
FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Dr David Phiri pledged technical support to Uganda through the process of developing the country’s next-generation CPF, for which he called for national support, saying that the ownership and participation of the Government is central to any success in the implementation of the priorities identified in the Country Programme Framework.
According to Antonio Querido- FAO Representative in Uganda, the agriculture sector faces several challenges such as low productivity linked to the lack of quality inputs, low access to financial services, low extension outreach, lack of market information and lack of access to markets; youth disengagement from agriculture; forest loss and climate change due to the expansion of land for farming; plant and livestock pests and diseases such as Desert Locusts, Rift Valley Fever and Fall Army Worm which threaten food security; and soil loss and degradation.
“Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. FAO is advocating for change and for improved practices to transform the sector to realize the aspirations of the people of Uganda”, he said.
Querido noted that “In the last five years, FAO successfully mobilized over USD 70 million between 2015 and 2020, to support the implementation of its work with stakeholders, to address the challenges of the agriculture sector in Uganda, in addition to the USD 11 million raised in early 2020 to combat the Desert Locust in Uganda”. “While short of the USD100 million target, the programme still managed to deliver significant results across Uganda”, he added.
Development of the new FAO Uganda CPF comes at a time when the world facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping the country’s recovery from the pandemic and other shocks will therefore require strategic plans and actions; recognizing that there will be more disasters in the future. FAO’s planning will thus call for a change in “the way we work, deliver life-saving interventions and the way we make investment decisions”.