Since 2012, 31 Chinese experts and technicians have been sent to Uganda to provide technical assistance in crop production, aquaculture, horticulture, livestock and agribusiness. The team has successfully transferred 25 new technologies, and introduced 17 new varieties such as hybrid rice, foxtail millet and maize, as well as four pieces of agricultural equipment and tools. The new technologies and varieties introduced are showing quick results with improved food crops and have increased the income of farmers.
South-South Cooperation (SSC) has been facilitated by FAO since 1996. Through the mutual sharing and exchange of key development solutions amongst countries in the global South, it serves as an effective means to achieving a world without hunger.
Unlike many other SSC host countries, Uganda is food secure, meaning that most people have a varied diet and enough food to eat. However, the country will soon face considerable challenges. Uganda is home to 31 million people, a population that has tripled since 1969. Also, the country is vulnerable to climate change, as unprecedented extreme climatic events such as rainstorms, heat waves, droughts and floods are being recorded with increasing frequency. This will have significant implications for natural resource management, water resources, the sustainability of infrastructure, food security, food loss and human health, as well as the potential to halt or even reverse the country’s development trajectory.
In response, 31 Chinese collaborators, including seven experts and 24 technicians have been sent to Uganda since 2012. Their mission is to provide technical assistance in the fields of crop production, aquaculture, horticulture, livestock and agribusiness. Since their arrival, the SSC team has successfully transferred 25 new technologies, and introduced 17 new varieties such as hybrid rice, foxtail millet and maize, as well as four pieces of agricultural equipment and tools. The new technologies and varieties introduced by the team are showing quick results with improved food crops, and increased income for farmers. In particular, agribusiness has enjoyed significant progress, with the project having a direct impact on improving the trade cooperation in the agriculture sector between China and Uganda.
Growing the future
Agriculture is integral to Uganda’s future. It is the country’s most important export sector, contributing nearly half of the total exports. However, there are obstacles to increasing production, such as the limited availability of finance and investment, the lack of access to timely and quality market information, poor agricultural practices and limited access to use of quality agro-inputs. This is why the SSC team made agribusiness a top priority.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries of Uganda identified the demands of agribusiness development that can increase farmers’ income and promote the export of agricultural products. FAO addressed those issues in a series of micro-projects, field demonstrations, and on-site training:
- Food crop production. Demonstrations and comparative tests showed that crops of Chinese foxtail millets yielded three times as high as local Ugandan finger millets. In addition, the Chinese millets have a shorter maturity period, making it easier to avoid Uganda’s dry season. Results also showed that introduced varieties of hybrid rice yielded much higher than local varieties.
- Cash crops production. Thanks to the technologies transferred by FAO, the proportion of high quality apples in demonstration orchards (farms which are used primarily to demonstrate various agricultural techniques, with any economic gains being an added bonus) reached 85%. The weight of a single apple increased and the quality improved as well. In 2014, farmers signed a contract for 100 000 apple seedlings and are expected to earn more than UGX 200 million (about USD 79 000).
- Aquaculture. Uganda has extensive lowlands. Fully utilizing lowland or wetland areas to construct fish ponds is an appropriate method to improving aquaculture, as fish are diminishing in Ugandan lakes. To address this, the Chinese experts conducted demonstrations in three farms, and rice-fish culture and fish hatchery technologies were promoted in many districts.
- Agribusiness. With the collaboration of FAO’s team, two Sichuan delegates visited Uganda to look for investments and business opportunities in the agriculture sector. During the first visit, both countries reached a mutual understanding and signed the Sichuan-Uganda agricultural cooperation framework agreement. Following this, three managers of Sichuan companies visited the rice and cotton producing areas.