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Tumwebaze Asks Researchers For Help On Climate Change

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Prossy Nandudu

The Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries Frank Tumwebaze has appealed to the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) for support in finding solutions to increasing effects of climate change on agriculture.  

In a speech read for him by the Director Crop Production in the ministry, Stephen Byantwale, Tumwebaze said the agriculture sector is currently faced with challenges like erratic rainfalls, pests and diseases, floods, poor post-harvest handling among others.

He made the appeal on Wednesday last week, during the Launch of the one CGIAR center at the National Agriculture Research Laboratories (NARL) in Kawanda.

Although the ministry is working hard to ensure that there is market access and agribusiness development, enhancing natural resource management and conservation, strengthening research among others which are aligned to the government’s development plans, challenges of climate change continue to manifest, Tumwebaze said.

“We still have a challenge of climate change which I think these centers should help us address as these are continuing to impact us negatively. due to the changing climate, more pest, and vectors are being witnessed and that since last year, the ministry has been battling the African Army worm, reported in Nakaseke district,” he said.

About climate change, Dr Beatrice Ekesa from CGIAR explained that through the One CGIAR center, researchers from all the six centers will come together and work with NARO to develop solutions to commonly identified challenges including climate change.

“We realize the need to work together, in Uganda we have six CGIAR centers, and have identified areas of collaboration so coming together, we can coordinate better especially on how to reach out to our partners both for funding and implementation,” Ekesa said.

Areas that CGIAR centers and NARO are working on so far include the development of improved bananas in both vitamins and yield, improved rice varieties, quality bean seed also for nutrition, improved animal health and productivity among others, Ekesa added.

However, for the partnership to yield results, Dr Wilberforce Tushemerire, director of NARL called for the creation of a balanced governance and leadership structure to have all stakeholders on board.

According to Tushemerire, partnerships between organizations fail because most governance structures are made up of 100% one side and less of the partners’ side. 

Tushemirire added that such a practice limits the partners from monitoring certain projects which lead to uncoordinated information given to the public about the same project.

“Make partnerships more equal, look at the NAS, and arrangements you are working together be in place to make sure you are partners, if these are fixed we shall have a wonderful working relationship,” said Tushemerire.

Comments from Stakeholders

Dr John Jagwe, the country manager for AGRA in Uganda called on CGIAR centers to consider the promotion of fertiliser, irrigation technologies  to complement their efforts in the production of quality seed . 

In Terms of mechanization, Jagwe said efforts should be geared towards having more tractors for higher prices so that smallholder farmers still using the hoe, can acquire more land and prepare in time,and also plant in time, so as to have timely harvests. 

Commenting on the launch, Dr Godfrey Asea-Director National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) said  the center has been focusing on increasing agriculture productivity calling on them to   focus on issues that will maintain productivity. 

Issues such as access to quality and affordable fertilizers, mechanization among others and also helping  farmers to diversify will increase productivity.

 He however warned these should be carried out in a coordinated manner from research to the farmer.

At the launch Anthony Akol, the chairperson of Parliaments Forum on Food Security appealed to researchers to make use of Parliamentary to increase awareness of their products among small holder farmers across the country.

He explained that based on the display of the different technologies such as improved seed, there is need for advocacy to make such technologies known to small holder farmers still using a hand hoe to increase production, improve their livelihoods.

“What we need from you, the technical people, is for you to identify gaps in your work that we can address through advocacy and promotion of your,” Akol added.

Victoria Sekitoleko representing farmers at Private Sector Foundation Uganda taxed the centers to explain to the public that not all food items such as bananas developed by researchers are genetically modified.

She also pledged to support the center to educate farmers the differences between Genetically modified crops and those that are not found in research centers, and that for animal health she will also educate farmers on latest research and developments in animal health.

During the launch, different innovations like fortified bananas, beans, new rice varieties, were displayed in addition to value added products from orange fleshed sweet potatoes among others.

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