Uganda Agricultural News and Research Digest, June 28th
Agricultural and Food Policy news
The New Times – Rwanda
Thirteen new climbing bean varieties were released in Rwanda last week, including five of them which are bio-fortified that are rich in iron and zinc. These varieties will be disseminated in the Great Lakes region, including in Uganda. “The main objective of launching these new varieties of beans is in line with the government program of fighting malnutrition among the population because the new types of beans are rich in iron and zinc and this will help in reducing anaemia among Rwandans,” the Permanent Secretary in the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture said. The new iron-rich bean varieties were bred by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) using conventional breeding methods.
Crop scientists at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (Nacrri) in Namulonge have so far released 12 improved cassava varieties to farmers but they are emphasizing the use of fertilizer for the best harvest results. The head of cassava research, Dr Anthony Bua while addressing science journalists at the International Cassava Conference in Kampala recently said crop scientists in Namulonge are developing improved cassava varieties using both conventional and biotechnology tools. He stressed that farmers should venture into commercialization of cassava since it has a lot of industrial uses. These include use in breweries, paper processors, glue processors and small scale industries producing potent gin.
On a related item on soil fertility and cassava, see Soil fertility key to realising Green Revolution, says expert.
A meeting of the Korea-Uganda Agriculture Rural Development Partnership was held last week. The mostly Ugandan crowd listened to a panel of agriculture experts discuss how that sector’s development fostered Korea’s transformation into a major economic power. This was achieved through technological innovation, economic and political reforms. The panel agreed there is much Uganda can learn from how Korea modernized its agricultural society. Young-Kong Koh, senior advisor in agriculture to the Korea International Cooperation Agency, spoke for the panel about his country’s development and the potential for stronger bilateral relations between Korea and Uganda. “I agree that Uganda has the potential to achieve even more than South Korea,” Koh said. “I believe this can be realized in the future.”
Last week, representatives from Uganda’s government and its private organic trade association were at Rio+20 to tout their nation’s place as producer and exporter of organic products, including fresh and dried fruits, coffee, cotton, and many others. Tom Okurut, executive director of Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), issued a pre-Rio+20 statement that said his country will prioritize organic agriculture during this week’s Brazil meeting, for the benefit of Uganda’s economy, society, and environment. “Organic farming is in line with objectives of sustainable development and therefore Uganda will showcase its organic agriculture potential, which will open up markets for organic products not yet selling on the international market,” said Okurut.
Paying farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to sequester carbon may provide a stronger incentive to improve soil quality than simply offering official fertilizer subsidies, a modeling study has found. To look at ways of incentivizing farmers to increase their use of soil improvement technologies, researchers investigated soil improvement practices at nine sites in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda where maize, rice or sorghum were grown. Techniques included using crop residue alone, and various combinations of crop residue, nitrogen fertilizer and manure. The researchers found that all five techniques resulted in higher crop yields and that each method improved carbon sequestration, and suggest that this might provide an opportunity for extra external support. Working on the basis of total potential profit over a 30-year period, they found that payments for carbon sequestration would be equally or more profitable than subsidized fertilizer schemes.
Agricultural and food policy research
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Economic development as a means to poverty reduction in Uganda: Binding constraints and agriculture as a key sector for growth
C Murphy, J Sparrow and M Tomalty – book chapter - Hunger, Agricultural Production, and Government Policies, 2012
Since President Yoweri Museveni’s election in 1986 Uganda has experienced substantial economic growth as well as increased political and social stability. However, while overall average growth rates have been impressive, there remains a plethora of constraints hindering the full capacity of the Ugandan economy. Constraints such as poor infrastructure, a faulty political process, widespread institutional corruption, and an inefficient agricultural sector have all been identified as imperative to the future of Uganda and its economy. By addressing these binding constraints Uganda has and will continue to improve the fundamentals of its economy and in doing so reduce poverty and increase the incomes of its citizens. It will be particularly important to effectively monitor the implementation of these poverty reduction strategies in order to gain new insights and ensure that the future course of action is based on tangible results. While achieving middle-income status will be difficult for Uganda, current initiatives have provided a solid foundation for short and medium term growth.
P Dorosh & J Thurlow – 2012, UNU/WIDER Working Paper
Rapid urbanization is an important characteristic of African development and yet the structural transformation debate focuses on agriculture’s relative merits without also considering the benefits from urban agglomeration. As a result, African governments are often provided conflicting recommendations on the importance of rural agriculture or urban industry. We develop dynamic economy-wide models for Ethiopia and Uganda that capture both traditional aspects of the debate (growth linkages and foreign trade) and benefits from urbanization (internal migration and agglomeration effects). Simulations suggest that urban agglomeration is an important source of long-term growth and structural transformation, but that investing in cities does not greatly reduce national poverty over the short-term. In this regard, agricultural growth is more effective, albeit with slower national growth. Given these trade-offs, we conclude that the urbanization’s benefits argue against an ‘agro-fundamentalist’ approach to African development, but the short-term imperative of reducing poverty necessitates further agricultural investment.
OK Kirui, JJ Okello and RA Nyikal – 2012, Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the (IAAE) Triennial Conference, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, 18-24 August, 2012.
The recent introduction of mobile phone-based money transfer (MMT) services in developing countries has generated a lot of interest among development partners. It facilitates transfer of money in a quick and cost effective way. It also offers an easy and secure platform for small savings to majority of rural populations with no access to formal financial services. However, the impact of MMT services on smallholder agriculture has not been documented. The study examines the impact of MMT services on household agricultural input use, agricultural commercialization and farm incomes among farm households in Kenya. We conclude that MMT services in rural areas help to resolve an idiosyncratic market failure that farmers face; access to financial services. We therefore recommend that other developing countries should follow the Kenyan model and provide an enabling environment that would facilitate entry and survival of MMT initiatives.