Newsletter week of Nov 3rd
Hello, and welcome to the IFPRI Uganda Strategy Support Program’s weekly news digest.
This weekly collection of recent news articles related to agriculture 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, we report on Government boosts cassava production in Bunyoro. In addition, there is more news such as Sorghum for beer provided many farmers with another way to make more moneyand among others, Our food, our identity: promoting indigenous food crops. Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:
- Implementing plant clinics in the maelstrom of policy reform in Uganda
- Analysis of Adoption and Impacts of Improved Maize Varieties in Eastern Zambia
Thank you and Enjoy
The report analyses family farms and the role of innovation in ensuring global food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. It argues that family farms must be supported to innovate in ways that promote sustainable intensification of production and improvements in rural livelihoods. Innovation is a process through which farmers improve their production and farm management practices.
Leading Ghana-based technology provider Farmerline has announced plans to join the Business Call to Action. The company plans to empower 500,000 small-scale farmers by 2019 in West Africa to advance their livelihoods by accessing information that helps them to improve their harvests. The company also plans to provide a specialised mobile communication and data-collection platform to 5,000 development organisations and agri-businesses in the next five years.
Agroforestry World Blog
One quarter of the world’s population depends on water from forested catchments. At the IUFRO congress, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) convened a meeting on forests and water. Calling for international action, FAO’s Thomas Hofer said that forests stabilize soil, minimize erosion, lessen drought severity (by casting shade and slowing wind), and reduce small to medium floods and shallow landslides although not deep geological ones. In Uganda, ICRAF found that trees in fields can improve infiltration and reduce runoff to 1.8-6% compared to 18% in soil-crop systems.
To mark World Food Day, IIED, ODI and IDS have launched the first seven of 12 new papers addressing agricultural and rural development debates in sub-Saharan Africa. World Food Day celebrates the anniversary of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's creation on 16 October 1945, and is a good occasion to reflect on the challenges of achieving food security worldwide. This year’s theme, 'Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth', was chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers.
There is general agreement that family farming plays important roles in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development.
Dismal figures dominate conversations on food security in Africa. Up to 230 million Africans are chronically malnourished, and 40 percent of children under the age of 5 will experience stunted mental and physical development.
Recently, and as World Food Day put the spotlight on these issues, the International Food Policy Research Institute released its latest Global Hunger Index, topped - unsurprisingly - by sub-Saharan African countries. Angola, Chad and Sierra Leone were recorded as having the highest under-5 mortality rate due to hunger, ranging from 15 percent to more than 18 percent.
But there is another side to this coin. Where can you find the world’s largest tracts of uncultivated arable land? Africa. Where can you find the biggest and youngest workforce on the planet? Again, Africa.
Over the last three decades, Burkina Faso's poorest farmers have produced food for half a million people by restoring some 300,000 hectares of degraded land with innovative techniques to conserve water and soil, according to a report on Wednesday.
The UK-based Overseas Development Institute thinktank said Burkina Faso's subsistence farmers were leading the fight against climate change in the West African country, which is prone to severe droughts and increasingly erratic rainfall.
Nutrition did not feature strongly enough in the millennium development goals (MDGs). Persistently high levels of hunger and undernutrition in many countries mean that these issues remain part of the MDGs’ unfinished agenda. Governments and international actors are increasingly recognising that good nutrition is a precursor for the achievement of a wide range of development issues. A recent report by the World Bank stated that one reason for the slow gains in some of the MDGs was the chronic lack of investment in nutrition.
The government in partnership with UK and China has introduced a project aimed at promoting cassava productivity and value addition in Bunyoro sub-region. The two-year project, Agricultural Technology Transfer on Cassava (AGRIT), is to be piloted in Masindi, Kiryandongo, Buliisa, Hoima and Kibaale districts. While UK is funding the project, China has dedicated its technical expertise to ensure that the project succeeds.
Close to his retirement age, the soft spoken Johnnie Ebiyau still lights the torch of breeding epuripur making him a leading scientist behind one of the world’s best sorghum varieties for brewing beer. Cereal crops are bred in National NaSSARI, in Serere District with sorghum taking the biggest percentage given its industrial use and as food and feed by humans and livestock. Ebiyau says that sorghum, especially epuripur, earns farmers Shs8b annually from sales to breweries.
A one-day exhibition to celebrate Uganda’s indigenous foods was held in Kampala on October 25, under the theme, Indigenous Foods and Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth. Organised by Pelum Uganda, the food fair drew more than 40 exhibitors, especially farmers, who displayed a variety of indigenous foods from all over Uganda. Stella Lutalo, the country coordinator, said the event was meant to promote traditional foods, sustainable agriculture and cultural diversity. It was also to show the public the multiple uses of food. “We want people to appreciate and consume our food because it is healthy since we use minimum chemicals in producing them,” she said. “These foods also describe our traditions and cultural identity.
Makaiko Khonje, Julius Manda, Arega D. Alene, Menale Kassie – World Development, 2015
This paper analyzes the adoption and welfare impacts of improved maize varieties in eastern Zambia using data obtained from a sample of over 800 farm households. Using both propensity score matching and endogenous switching regression models, the paper shows that adoption of improved maize leads to significant gains in crop incomes, consumption expenditure, and food security. Results further show that improved maize varieties have significant poverty-reducing impacts in eastern Zambia. The paper concludes with implications for policies to promote adoption and impacts of modern varieties in Zambia.
Pests and diseases are key production constraints for Ugandan small-scale farmers. In 2010, the Ugandan Government, as part of its agricultural development strategy, adopted plant clinics to improve plant health extension for farmers and to contribute to strengthening disease surveillance. Despite government commitment and a growing demand for this new type of farmer service, effective implementation of plant clinics turned out to be a challenge. We examine how agricultural policies and institutional setups, and their political context, influenced the implementation of plant clinics from 2010 to 2011. We argue that the political agenda surrounding the decentralization and agricultural extension reforms, initiated in 1997, substantially weakened the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and undermined institutional stability and the effectiveness of delivery of public extension services. Implementation of plant clinics was further affected by a new district reform and the national elections taking place during the study period. The dual purpose of the plant clinics created uncertainty about their organisational belonging. They fell through the cracks of extension and disease control. This was exacerbated by the unclear roles and authority of the Ministry vs. local governments. For plant clinics to succeed the fundamental issues of governance, resources and implementation structure need to be addressed. The Ugandan experience shows the importance of understanding not only the policy and institutional frameworks in which plant clinics operate, but also the effects of political imperatives and donors on policy implementation. This study provides a basis for institutional and policy analysis related to the implementation of plant clinics elsewhere.