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IFPRI-Kampala newsletter – week of Jan 13th 2015

2015 January 13
by bvancampenhout

car_resizedHello, Happy New Year, 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 Farmers want gov’t to set up agriculture financing council.

In addition, there is more news such as Uganda faces agriculture output drop, Uganda to be water stressed by 2025 and among others, Beating back the desert in Burkina Faso, field by field. Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:

Thank you and Enjoy


Farmers want gov’t to set up agriculture financing council

New Vision

Small-holder farmers want government to establish an agriculture financing council to play an oversight role in agriculture and to enable farmers across the country access credit from banks. The council, according to the farmers, would help solve the bottlenecks encountered in accessing credit for agriculture. The farmers were speaking during a national dialogue on agriculture financing in Kampala.

Tanzania: Banana Wilt impoverishes farmers in Kagera region


A total of 3,882,388 banana stems were uprooted and destroyed through burning in Kagera Region, in effort to combat the deadly Banana XanthomonasWilt (BXW). The Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr John Mongela, has appealed to residents in the region to plant fast maturing crops including maize, millet, wheat, cassava and sweet potatoes as a precaution following destruction caused by the Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW). He added that over two million improved banana seedlings had already been produced at the Maruku Agricultural Research Institute (ARI), in Bukoba Rural District and were being sold at 300/- subsidised price.

Researchers proffer a recipe on scaling-out agricultural technologies


Drawing from experiences and lessons from past agricultural projects, researchers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and HarvestPlus have proffered solutions on how to scale out agricultural innovations and create impact at the farm level. The researchers recommended that for agricultural innovations to create impact at scale, researchers must adopt the use of innovation platforms-working with multi-stakeholder groups-to effectively catalyse engagement with partners and ensure participation of important actors. They also identified the application of innovative communication and dissemination approaches such as the use of champions and novel information and communication tools in out-scaling innovations among target beneficiaries.

African agriculture ministers need to own orphan crops


Speaking at the end of a six weeks' training program of 21 scientists from eleven countries and 19 institutions, Director of NEPAD’s African Biosafety Network of Expertise, Dr. Diran Makinde who represented NEPAD CEO Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki stated that although the African Orphan Crop Consortium (AOCC) was behind the success story, the long term goal would be support from the private sector and African governments. “We want political buy in. Ministers of Agriculture need to own the orphan crops. The fight to combat hunger and preserve Africa’s indigenous foods is on."

Global efforts needed to stop deadly banana disease

UN News Centre
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is calling for global efforts to combat a fungal disease affecting the banana industry, which provides income and food to about 400 million people globally. According to FAO and its partners, US$47 million is needed to provide assistance to the countries facing new outbreaks. The deadly Tropical Race 4 (TR4) strain of Fusarium wilt disease is severely affecting plantations in Indonesia, Philippines, and China.

Uganda faces agriculture output drop

East African Business Week

Agriculture is repeatedly described as the backbone of Uganda’s economy. But in terms of productivity, it has the lowest output per worker researchers say. According to Edward Bbaale, a researcher with Centre for Basic Research and School of Economics at Makerere University, this implies that the majority of workers in Uganda are holders of low-paid jobs. This is an issue, which means that there are limited prospects of overcoming the problem of poverty by those employed in agriculture.

Strategic partnership for the Fertile Grounds Initiative

Food and Business Knowledge Platform
This recently-published report provides an overview of African networks and institutions working to improve soil fertility and lists relevant national, sub-regional and Pan-African programmes by governmental, private sector, academic and civil society organisations. It provides the Fertile Grounds Initiative with ideas to build strategic partnerships and to start, and is also of use to other stakeholders with an interest in the area of soil fertility management.

Uganda to be water stressed by 2025

The Observer

Due to prolonged droughts and unexpected floods caused by climatic variations, Uganda may be water stressed by 2025, CARE Uganda has warned. This was revealed during the second national stakeholders’ meeting organised by CARE Uganda and Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), under the auspices of Global Water Initiative East Africa (GWI EA) in Kampala recently. Speaking at the same event, Water and Environment Minister Ephraim Kamuntu said development of the agricultural sector had stagnated due to total dependence on rainfall which, of late, was becoming unreliable.

Beating back the desert in Burkina Faso, field by field

In Burkina Faso, what was once stony semi-wasteland is now covered in verdant crop fields, rescued from relentless desertification. Using simple agricultural techniques largely spread by word-of-mouth, this tiny West African state has rejuvenated vast stretches of scrubby soil over the past 30 years, proving they are not doomed and giving hope to other vulnerable areas in sub-Saharan Africa.



Characteristics and Adaptive Potential of Sweetpotato Cultivars Grown in Uganda
Saul Daniel Ddumba, Jeffrey Andresen, Sieglinde S. Snapp - International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry, 2014

This paper reviews the characteristics of sweet potato cultivars grown in Uganda using published literature and highlights the role of farmers’ involvement and other stakeholders in sweetpotato production. Sweetpotatoes have a high potential in improving food security in East Africa due to their general high tolerance to heat and water stress, rich vitamin A content, and relatively short growing period. Being known as a reserve crop, sweetpotato is either mono-cropped or inter or relay cropped with other crops. In order to select a variety to grow during a given season, farmers use characteristics such as yield, time to reach maturity, root color, root size, root shape, root quality, sweetness, pest and disease resistance, and marketability. Among the non-orange fleshed sweetpotato cultivars, NASPOT 1, Tanzania, Tororo-3, New Kawogo and Bwanjule rank highly in terms of the characteristics. The Orange fleshed sweetpotato cultivars with most preference include NASPOT 10, Kakamega, NASPOT 5 and NASPOT 8. It should be noted, however, that the importance and popularity of a given variety varies across different parts of Uganda.

The influence of water, land, energy and soil-nutrient resource interactions on the food system in Uganda
Feriha Mugisha Mukuve,  Richard A. Fenner  - Food Policy, 2014

Food Security continues to be elusive in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), several decades after the first World Food Summit in 1974. The causes of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa include among others; poverty, economic constraints, agricultural and agronomical challenges, rapid population growth, and the effects of adverse climate change. These causes however, are linked to complex interactions, constraints and dependencies amongst the key physical resources in food systems, namely – Water, Land, Energy and Soil Nutrients (WLEN). There is limited insight on the combined impacts of the resource nexus, and how this may constrain the performance of food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. This understanding is essential if the food challenges in the region are to be tackled sustainably.

This study provides a detailed analysis of the Uganda’s 2012 WLEN nexus resources vis-à-vis the country’s current and potential food demand using calorific-demand analysis and source-to-service resource transformation modelling. The analysis determines estimates of the current resource stresses within Uganda’s insufficient food system and the interconnected resource implications for the achievement of food security by 2050. The results are visualised using Sankey diagrams. The inferences highlight evident limits across all four resources. Overall, the analysis helps to inform food security policy and the resource context for the present and future management of Uganda’s food system.

Attracting Youth to Agriculture: The Career Interests of Young Farmers Club Members in Uganda
Stephen C. Mukembo, M. Craig Edwards, Jon W. Ramsey, Shida R. Henneberry – Journal of Agricultural Education, 2014

This embedded, quantitative case study included 102 participants who were members of Young Farmers Clubs (YFCs) from two secondary schools in eastern Uganda. The study’s multifold purpose was to describe YFC members’ personal characteristics and their reasons for joining the clubs. In addition, the study sought to determine the career interests/aspirations of the YFC members and factors influencing their decisions about career choices. Cross-sectional survey methodology was used to collect data. The findings showed a high number of members were interested in pursuing careers related to science. Students mainly joined the clubs to improve their academic performance, for personal interests, and to gain life skills. Intrinsic factors were the main influencers of career choice. Club activities had less influence on the members’ career aspirations. The results point to a need for teachers, guidance counselors, and parents to consider students’ interests and abilities when guiding them about career choices. Advisors should provide meaningful learning experiences for club members to explore their career interests and aptitudes. Future studies should assess the impact of childhood experiences on stimulating the career interests of adolescents, especially in developing countries.

Political Settlements and Productive Sector Policies: Understanding Sector Differences in Uganda
Anne Mette Kjær – World Development, 2014

This article uses a political settlement framework to better understand why ruling elites support some productive sectors and not others. I focus on how ruling elites build and maintain their ruling coalition. I argue that promoting particular productive activities is favored when the relationship between ruling elites and the relevant industry actors is important for building and/or maintaining the ruling coalition. This was the case in the Ugandan dairy sector but not in the fisheries sector and with regard to advisory services reform where the original initiatives ran against the interests of powerful factions. These findings help to improve our knowledge about the political sources of sector differences.

Identifying Spatial Efficiency–Equity Trade-offs in Territorial Development Policies: Evidence from Uganda
Somik V. Lall, Elizabeth Schroeder, Emily Schmidt –Journal of Development Studies, 2014

We contribute to the debate on the spatial allocation of infrastructure investments by examining where these investments generate the highest economic return (‘spatial efficiency’), and identifying trade-offs when infrastructure coverage is made more equitable across regions (‘spatial equity’). We estimate models of firm location choice in Uganda, drawing on insights from the new economic geography literature. The main findings show that manufacturing firms gain from being in areas that offer a diverse mix of economic activities. Public infrastructure investments in other locations are likely to attract fewer private investors, and will pose a spatial efficiency–equity trade-off.

Farmers, peanuts, and aflatoxins in Uganda: A gendered approach
Maria Elisa Christie, Peace Kyamureku, Archileo Kaaya, Alexandra Devenport - Development in Practice, 2014

This article describes a collaborative research for development project that used participatory methods to engage smallholder farmers in Uganda in post-harvest aflatoxin management. It is based primarily on qualitative research with peanut growers tracing ‘the path of the peanut’ through their hand-drawn maps and journal writing. By focusing on everyday life and including recipes and drawings, this research encouraged women's participation and emphasised women's roles. A unique partnership among universities, women's organisations, and farmers created an environment of mutual learning and produced a book documenting food preparation and other post-harvest practices as part of a study and capacity-building effort on peanuts and aflatoxins.

Reverse-Share-Tenancy and Agricultural Efficiency: Farm-Level Evidence from Ethiopia
Hosaena H. Ghebru, Stein T. Holden- Journal of African Economies, 2014

Using a unique tenant–landlord matched dataset from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, we are able to show how the tenants' strategic response to the varying economic and tenure-security status of the landlords helps explain sharecroppers' productivity differentials. The study reveals that sharecroppers' yields are significantly lower on plots leased from landlords who are non-kin and landlords with weaker economic and tenure-security status (such as female) than on plots leased from landlords with the contrasting characteristics. While, on aggregate, the results show no significant efficiency loss on kin-operated sharecropped plots, more decomposed analyses indicate strong evidence of Marshallian inefficiency on kin-operated plots leased from landlords with weaker bargaining power and higher tenure insecurity. This study thus shows how failure to control for the heterogeneity of landowners' characteristics can explain the lack of clarity in the existing empirical literature on the extent of moral hazard problems in sharecropping contracts.

Welfare effects of vegetable commercialization: Evidence from smallholder producers in Kenya
Beatrice W. Muriithi, Julia Anna Matz – Food Policy, 2014

We investigate whether smallholder horticultural commercialization is able to, as often stipulated, reduce poverty in developing countries with the help of panel household survey data from Kenya. We find evidence for a positive association between vegetable commercialization and household welfare, even when controlling for unobserved heterogeneity across households. Interestingly, the effect differs depending on which market vegetables are being produced for: commercialization through the export market is consistently positively associated with income but not wealth, while there is some limited evidence for commercialization through the domestic market channel being positively related to welfare measured by asset holdings and income, depending on the specification.

Does storage technology affect adoption of improved maize varieties in Africa? Insights from Malawi’s input subsidy program
Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, Michael Jones – Food Policy, 2014

To date there is limited knowledge of how having access to post-harvest storage technology affects a smallholder African farmer’s decision to adopt higher-yielding improved maize varieties. This is a key issue because higher yielding varieties are known to be more susceptible to storage pests than lower-yielding traditional varieties. We address this question using panel data from Malawi, and incorporating panel estimation techniques to deal with unobserved heterogeneity. Our results indicate that acquiring chemical storage protectants after the previous harvest is associated with a statistically significant and modest positive impact on the probability of adopting improved maize, total area planted to improved maize varieties, and share of area planted to improved maize varieties in the next planting season. We also find that the storage chemical subsidy is associated with significant crowding out of commercial storage chemical purchases, as farmers who acquire subsidized chemicals are more than 50 percentage points less likely to purchase commercial chemicals on average. These findings have implications for maize adoption and input subsidy policies, and they indicate that researchers, extension staff, and policy makers should consider post-harvest issue when promoting adoption of improved varieties.

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