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Uganda SSP Weekly Newsletter – week of October 28, 2013

2013 October 31
by bvancampenhout

Els Lecoutere, all rights reserved

Photo: Els Lecoutere

This weekly collection of recent news articles related to agriculture in Uganda is compiled from online news sources. We also include links to recent publications on agricultural and policy-related research topics pertinent to Uganda.
In news this week, SNV Uganda launches school garden manual and the creation of a new regional grains information portal in the EAC. There is also plenty of national news on basic staples that are important for food security, such as cassava , sweet potatoes and matooke.

Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:

Thank you, and enjoy.


SNV Uganda launches school garden manual
SNV Uganda has developed a school garden manual to guide local implementing partners in managing a school garden programme. The manual was developed from the shared experiences of SNV Uganda advisors, local capacity building organisations, district local governments, school administrations and communities implementing the school garden programme.
Speaking at the launch of the manual, His Excellency Alphons Hennekens- the Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda applauded SNV for its contribution to agriculture in Uganda and emphasised his government’s commitment to finding lasting solutions to global problems relating to food security. “We invested in the school garden programme because schools are a great platform for the transfer of knowledge and skills on good agricultural practices to the surrounding communities. Given the prominence that agriculture plays in this country, getting parents and communities involved and learning better ways of addressing their agricultural challenges is a step to improving efficiency and enhancing agricultural production in Uganda,” the Dutch Ambassador said.

New regional grains information portal launched in EAC
At the end of July 2013, USAID announced the launch of “a regional information portal to track production and export of grains in the five East African Community (EAC) states in an effort to boost intraregional commodities trade. This online platform provides a “monthly regional food balance sheet based on production and export data supplied by industry players, paving the way for goods to move from surplus to deficit areas”. This is seen as important in the EAC, since there are always some areas harvesting when other parts are experiencing a deficit.
The aim is to enable the EAC states to meet regional grain needs from within the EAC before resorting to imports from outside the region. It is hoped that the new system will also promote grain price convergence across the EAC (see table for current price differences) and help stabilise both prices and supply within a common staple grains policy framework. It is also hoped that the information tool will avert the use of export bans in response to scares over supply.

The time is ripe
While Eastern African farmers grow plenty of bananas, poor market organisation and limited value addition have seriously constrained the development of the sector. But projects of all sizes are now starting to focus on better bargaining with bananas and making more of matooke.

How earning income off-farm affects the adoption of better farming methods
Research shows there is an increase in farming households who also earn their income away from the farm. But what is the impact of this on their farming activities?

Uganda sets up info point on trade standards
Have you wondered why some countries do not allow agricultural exports from Uganda or set stringent standards? A web portal with information on such standards has been set up for Ugandan exporters.

Sweet potatoes, beans perform miracles for Buyende children
New Vision
VEDCO, together with Harvest Plus, is  fighting malnutrition in the country, a problem that affects up to 54% of children under 18 in Uganda.

Farmers need mindset change, says NAADS official
New Vision
There is need for mindset change for farmers if they are to engage in commercial agriculture, which will spur economic development, a National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) official has said.

The humble cassava plant is on the threshold of boosting household incomes and causing a revolution in livelihoods in rural Uganda
New Vision
For long considered a poor man’s crop to be eaten during famine, cassava has the potential to save Uganda $300m following breakthroughs in commercialisation of the plant.


How sweet potato varieties are distributed in Uganda: actors, constraints and opportunities
R Gibson - Food Security, 2013
Sweet potato varieties are distributed in Uganda by three systems: formal, project-based and informal. In a partial formal system, the National Sweetpotato Program (NSP) breeds and tests both orange (O)- and white (W)-fleshed sweet potato (FSP) varieties. The NSP and other national institutions provide vine stocks of mostly OFSP varieties to project-based seed systems involving large private sector multipliers, which are found predominantly in east and central Uganda. These are mainly either cooperatives derived from smallholder groups organized by projects or are individual farmers with large holdings who had hosted NSP variety trials. The private sector multipliers sell planting materials of released varieties to projects, which distribute them free to selected households. Projects buy hundreds and occasionally thousands of sacks of vines but they distribute them to only a limited number of needy households and for only one or a few seasons. The informal system functions predominantly in areas with a long dry season, in which vines cannot survive. Its vine multipliers use the wetter lowlands to maintain mostly landraces, which they sell as small bundles of vines to many smallholders at the onset of the rains. Very few multiply released varieties. Thus, with a ready market, the system is sustainable but quantities sold are price limited. All vine multipliers supplied healthy planting material. It is proposed that the NSP should aim their trials of new varieties at informal vine multipliers and projects should supply vines to these multipliers in order to improve their access to them. This would promote the sustainable distribution of vines, including new varieties, over a greater area and to a larger number of farmers.

Eradicating extreme poverty among the rural poor in Uganda through poultry and cattle improvement programmes-A Review
J Ekou - Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, 2013
Uganda is still struggling with chronic poverty and malnutrition especially among women and children despite the targeted efforts towards eradicating poverty by transforming subsistence agriculture to intensive or commercial agriculture that have been in place for the last 13 years. The aim of this paper was therefore to analyze the Republic of Uganda’s current strategy on eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, identify the major constraints and suggest possible strategic interventions using examples of poultry and cattle. The article has identified unemployment and persistent inflation as major constraints to modernization of agriculture in Uganda and has offered development of small holder poultry production, promotion of poultry crossbreeds, rehabilitation of community dip tanks and promotion of dairy crossbreeds as strategic intervention areas to alleviate extreme hunger and poverty in Uganda. In conclusion, the strategies used by the government of Uganda to fight poverty and hunger did not favour the rural poor but have supported the rich and thus failed to cause a notable impact. It is therefore recommended that adoption of the suggested intervention areas shall overcome the said bottlenecks and accelerate eradication of hunger and poverty.

Understanding the performance of food production in sub-Saharan Africa and its implications for food security
M Demeke, F Di Marcantonio, C Morales-Opazo - Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, 2013
The performance of the food production sector in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is critical for a number of reasons. Domestic production is the principal avenue to ensuring access to affordable food in poor countries with limited capacity to import food. The multiplier effect of sustainable food production on the economy is considerable as it has direct linkage with other activities such as transportation, marketing, tourism and local trade. In countries where the growth of food production outpaces demand, social and political harmony as well as macroeconomic stability can be maintained, paving the way for sustained economic growth. This paper examines changes in food production performance among 30 SSA countries over the period of 1968 to 2008. The results support previous findings that not many countries have managed to achieve a food production growth rate in excess of 3% per annum. Annual food production performance averaged 3% or more in 60% of the sample countries following the policy reforms. Nevertheless, rates of output growth varied from one period to the other and the recent improved performances were achieved not only through unsustainable expansion of land under cultivation, but also failed to satisfy the rapidly growing food demand. With domestic supply lagging behind, most countries have experienced unaffordable food import bills. Addressing political instability and building institutions that foster partnership between governments, farmers, traders and other operators along the food value chain to address market failures and inefficiencies in input, output, credit and risk managementis critical to ensure food availability, accessibility and stability in SSA.

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