The ministry of agriculture and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with World Food Programme to boost the Uganda’s agricultural sector.
The MoU was signed by Presidency minister, Frank Tumwebaze, on behalf of government and the Country Representative, Michael Dunford, for WFP while the chairman, Gen Salim Saleh, witnessed the signing ceremony.
OWC is President Yoweri Museveni’s July 2013 intervention to revitalise the agricultural sector and ensure agencies execute their mandates.
OWC is run by the army.
It came after the president accused NAADS officials of misappropriating funds.
Speaking at the event, Gen Saleh said he was very excited about the nature of collaboration with WFP emphasizing that it provided a model that can be extended to include other partners.
He said development partners have already made a significant contribution to the agricultural sector because they are a key contributor to strengthening of the agricultural sector and its aligned objectives.
“We are constantly exploring ways of maximizing participation of the private sector – a key stakeholder to the agriculture sector,” Saleh pointed out.
He said farmers and farming communities are central to the objectives of Operation Wealth Creation which include raising incomes and livelihoods.
“Only when all institutions function at their full potential and in a coordinated manner, will we start to see the impact we need. OWC is in the process of revitalizing the institutions so that they can meet their objectives and obligations.”
He also mentioned other key actors as the Uganda Farmers Federation; Uganda Cooperatives Alliance, Uganda Cooperatives Savings and Credit Union, National Bureau of Standards (NBS), Uganda Investment Board, Uganda Export Promotions Board and Uganda National Farmers Federation.
He recognized NAADS, National Agricultural Organisation (NARO), Public sector; Ministries of Agriculture, Trade, Industry & Cooperatives, Finance and Local Government all identified under a broad based Public, Community, Private Partnership [PCPP[ for an effective agriculture sector.
“OWC has mobilized a significant proportion of the population in agriculture sector and raised expectations as to what can be achieved.”
He said the need to identify and address various gaps in agriculture sector through targeted interventions was already registering positive results.
“We cannot understate the importance of effective coordination and clear communications, this is where OWC emphasis will be focused. OWC focus will be to increase efficiency within agriculture sector, improve coordination and collaboration between ministries, agencies and other stakeholders.”
NAADS Executive Director, Dr. Sam Mugasi, on the other hand, said to bring people back to agriculture is to improve the technology and machinery used in agriculture.
He said Government restructured NAADS and refocused its mandate to address critical demands; to accelerate agriculture production, maintain food security and improve households incomes.
“In this financial year, we have distributed seeds covering over 403,796 acres,” he pointed out, adding that government was putting emphasis on coffee.
Mugasi cited some of the challenges as lack of proper coordination of all key stakeholders across the value chain, lack of storage and value addition which lead to high post-harvest losses, weak input and output markets, weak extension system and lack of agricultural financing, among others.
He was, however, optimistic that with the new MoU signed between Agriculture ministry and WFP, some of these problems will be solved.
Mugasi said there was need to strengthen coordination, build capacity for agro processing, build capacity for storage from community level to large scale, strengthen inputs by focusing on quality, empower farmer groups to strengthen outputs market, remove systematic barriers that deny farmers access to markets like export ban, roads, electricity etc, speed up the rebuilding of extension system and develop financing models and mitigate climate change effects and focus on stallholder farming.