KAMPALA – Over 12000 smallholder farmers across the country are set to benefit from a new climate adaptation project.
The project launched in Kampala on Monday, August 28 is expected to upturn the sustainability of the smallholder food production system in Uganda through irrigation technology and climate adaptation practices.
Mr. Gerald Masila, the Executive Director at the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) said the primary beneficiaries of the project are 12000 small and medium-sized farmers across Uganda.
Key among other beneficiaries will include commercial project partners supplying irrigation equipment, youths benefitting from skills development in irrigation systems operations and maintenance, and traders including exporters who access produce for sale.
He said the project will focus on building the capacity of smallholder farmers to embrace a spectrum of climate adaptation practices to drive demand for irrigation technology.
“So this project will look at providing water either from rivers or from dams or from lakes to supplement when there is erratic rainfall or inadequate rainfall and mainly for production of high-value crops that be cereals and also horticulture mainly for the market that would be able to reward sufficiently to be able to meet the additional costs of irrigation so that even when those farmers who will have acquired this technology, and through loans and other financing, they would be able to raise sufficient revenues that will be able to pay back the loans while they are also making better income,” he said during an interview.
Over UGX 5.5 billion has been injected into the project that will also establish a supply chain of quality climate-smart irrigation technology including developing a scheme to train irrigation technology technicians to provide operations and maintenance services.
Many previous irrigation investments have significantly underperformed but experts warn that a ‘business as usual’ approach could put millions more people at risk of hunger, than in a future without climate change. Future food security in the region will worsen if no action is taken today.
“One thing we’re seeing, both globally and definitely in East Africa, we’re seeing changes in the climate, which means that farmers are having crop failure, and therefore access to irrigation is going to be a key factor moving forward, not just for the high-value crops, but we may also need them in the lower value crops,” said John McNay, the East African advisor for access to innovations, a Danish NGO that supports Danish businesses into the East African markets.
Instead of just selling seasonally, McNay said that farmers should be supported to produce all year round, “because when it there’s no natural rainfall, you can use irrigation”.
He said that irrigation is just one element of the project, listing the adoption of new skills in terms of growing more sophisticated types of crops as another project component.
He said his organization which also exports crops from East Africa into the Scandinavian markets will help Ugandan farmers in the development of the business plans for the smallholder irrigation.
“We will also support them with developing the value chains, so that not only can they produce better crops under irrigation, but also find market for those crops in the Scandinavian markets,” Mr. McNay said.
The three-year project will be implemented by Eastern Africa Grain Council (Uganda), Grundfos (Denmark), Akvo International (Uganda), and Access to Innovation (Denmark) with support from the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) under the DANIDA Green Business Partnership Program (DGBP).