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A new 4.2 Million Australian dollar project entitled, "Developing Value Chain Innovation Platforms for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (VCIP4FS) launched.

Participants posing for a group pic with the minister after the launch of the project.

 

• The four-year project (2015-2019) is funded by the Australian government

• The project will be implemented in Uganda and Zambia
• Makerere University will coordinate the project implementation in Uganda
• Dr. Prossy Isubikalu and Dr. Florence Birungi Kyazze from the Department of Extension are at the fore front of driving the project
• In Uganda , the project will be implemented in Kapchorwa and Manafwa districts
• Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries(MAAIF) Hon. Lt. Col. (Rtd) Dr. Bright Rwamirama lauds Ugandan scientists for research and human resource capacity building 

A new project entitled "Developing Value Chain Innovation Platforms for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa abbreviated as VCIP4FS" was on 13th July, 2015 launched. 

The project was launched by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Hon. Lt. Col. (Rtd) Dr. Bright Rwamirama at at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala. The function attracted Development Partners from Australia, the Director General NARO, representatives from the MAAIF, Chief Administrative Officers (Manafwa and Kapchorwa) and representatives from ICRAF. Others present were representatives from the University of Adelaide - Australia, representatives from Landcare international and African Land care, project leaders and partners. 

The Minister of state MAAIF Hon Bright Rwamirama reading his speech during the project launch

VCIP4FS is a four year project (2015-2019) whose overall objective is to identify principles and drivers that can support innovation platforms to improve food security by connecting more small holder farmers with markets. It will focus more on enabling youth and women improve their livelihoods. 

This initiative is funded by the Australian government through the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and coordinated by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in partnership with the governments of Uganda and Zambia. It will be implemented through a multidisciplinary partnership of international and national institutions. 

A section of participants

 

The total project budget is 4.2 million Australian dollars. Of this, 3 million Australian dollars is from the Government of Australia and the other 1.2 million Australian dollars is a contribution from partner governments of Uganda and Zambia, University of Adelaide and ICRAF. 

The project has three sites for implementation. In Zambia, the project will be implemented in Solwezi while in Uganda, the project will be implemented in Kapchorwa and Manafwa districts under the partnership of ICRAF, Makerere University and NARO - NaFORRI together with local NGOs in the two districts. 

Coordination of the project implementation in Uganda is the responsibility of Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Dr. Prossy Isubikalu and Dr. Florence Birungi Kyazze from the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies are at the fore front of driving the project in Uganda. 

Dr. Prossy Isubikalu and Dr. Florence Birungi Kyazze -Makerere University - Uganda project Coordinators

 

Dr. Prosy Isubikalu said the project will be implemented in Kapchorwa and Manafwa districts because of the ongoing work with ICRAF and the presence of the Kapchorwa Land Care Chapter in the district. The two districts, she said, lie in the Mt Elgon region with fertile soils, high population density with high potential to produce but with gaps in markets. In the most recent years, the area was also devastated by landslides leaving the population in abject poverty. 

Makerere University’s role according to Dr. Prossy Isubikalu will include generating and coordinating the project activities, facilitating stakeholder meeting especially at district and national level and guiding the Value Chain Innovation platform development process in project areas. 

The University will also identify students to work with the project and supervise them, identify supervisors by utilizing the field attachment program at Makerere University. Other roles are designing data collection tools, data collection itself, analyzing and reporting. The university will also assist in developing information dissemination pathways and flow networks to different stakeholders within and beyond project areas for increased visibility among others. 

Speaking at the function the Deputy Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga expressed Makerere University’s pride to be part of this process of developing the value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Dr. Nabanoga told participants that economic growth in Eastern and Southern Africa can be enhanced through agricultural development emphasizing the need for the agricultural industry to be more innovative today than ever before.

“Therefore innovation platforms embedded in value chains are critical for improving food security and I believe for this particular project, when we talk about food security, it is in a wider sense not only food production but all the different chains that are involved to ensure that Ugandans, Africans and the people in the world are food secure”. She said 

The Deputy Principal noted with happiness that these innovative platforms are the scale pitch in this century as a strategy to engage key actors in processing agricultural development and that, these are important as they are very inclusive of every actor including academicians, researchers and the farmers. 

Dr. Gorettie Nabanoga giving remarks on behalf of the Principal-CAES

 

“And also these platforms provide spaces for different actors to address their needs and the entry points are usually different because the value chains have different nodes. We have the producers, processors, value addition and we have the markets which I hope you will talk about in this initiative to bring everybody on board so that we speak the same language and we have similar entry points”. Dr. Nabanoga stressed. 

Dr. Nabanoga was optimistic that this new initiative would identify, improve and build capacity for the livelihoods and food security of the small holders in different commodity value chains. 

She said the university had a lot of expectations from this initiative. These include the laying down of the best value chain development strategies that engage different stakeholders at different nodes of the different value chain and scaling up the initiatives into a bigger program and building capacity of other partners beyond Uganda. 

Another section of participants

 

Other expectations include converting this initiative into a long term process even when the supporting partners have left, for continuity as an important aspect for the rest of Ugandans and Africans at large. 

“So I believe that at the end of this process, we shall have a road map of where we are, what we want to do and what we want to achieve. I believe that during this process you are going to build synergies which should develop beyond this particular group, bring us more partners, so that we develop a bigger program that will help our nation in improving food security”, the Don said. 

She thanked all the partners who have helped in bringing all individuals together to share experiences and be able to plan for the future. She also thanked Government of Uganda for giving the university the opportunity to share this particular incidences and NARO for bringing the partners together. 

Launching the project, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Hon. Lt. Col. (Rtd) Dr. Bright Rwamirama, on behalf of the Government of Uganda extended appreciation to the Australian Government for this critical support. He also thanked ICRAF for having worked closely with the National Partners in Uganda, including Makerere University, NARO and Kapchorwa and Manafwa District Local Governments. 

“My Ministry will closely monitor the project and provide advice for the smooth implementation of the project. I urge the national partners to proactively participate and implement the project diligently” Dr. Bright Rwamirama pledged and advised. 

The Minister reminded participants that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy engaging over 70% of the population. He said the sector’s contribution to GDP has been low but of recent registered growth. He said integrating value chains and markets in agriculture is one way the country can improve the sector’s contribution to livelihoods and GDP. 

He reported that MAAIF was responsible for managing and coordinating agricultural policies and interventions in Uganda through the Ministry’s autonomous and semi-autonomous agencies. NARO is one of such agencies responsible for research. Minister Rwamirama expressed happiness that NARO through one of its 16 research Institutes (National Forestry Resources Research Institute –NaFORRI) has partnered with other agencies both locally and internationally to develop this important project. 

“The project will help our people in the Mt. Elgon sub-region (Kapchorwa and Manafwa districts) to be better organized in what the experts have called Innovation platforms. This will not only add value to agricultural products and create links between farmers and markets, but will create an opportunity for the different players to work together and embrace the innovation systems perspective in developing innovative ways of promoting income and food security,” He said 

The Hon Minister Dr. Bright Rwamirama reiterated government’s support and commitment to the project’s work saying, Government’s vision is to see progressive annual improvement in house hold incomes that are dependent on agriculture.

The Minister was particularly encouraged by the fact that this project will work towards strengthening agricultural value chains in Uganda and expressed confidence that this will enhance productivity of farmers as well as integrate market issues into research programs.

Hon. Minister Bright Rwamirama (C) chats with participants briefly after the launch 

“I am happy to learn that under this project, our Ugandan scientists will lead the implementation of the project while working closely with international partners such as the University of Adelaide and Landcare International in Australia as well as ICRAF. I am sure that this will enhance the capacity of our national institutions to generate relevant knowledge and technologies for transforming subsistence agriculture to commercially viable agriculture”, The Minister went on to commend that: 

“The cross learning between Uganda and Zambia under this project will also be a rewarding experience for our scientists. I encourage them to make good use of this opportunity. I am sure that through these connections, more Ugandan students and scientists will explore study opportunities in Australian Universities. The collaboration should also lead to a strong partnership between Makerere University and the University of Adelaide and other Universities in Australia”. He added. 

Hon Bright Rwamirama also assured participants that the Uganda project team was competent enough and will diligently implement the project activities for the benefits of the smallholder farmers in the Mt. Elgon sub-region and beyond. 

He thanked the development partners in particular, the Australian Government through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) for providing funding for this important project and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) for spearheading the project development. He also thanked NARO, Makerere University, the two District Local Governments and their project partners for the job well done.

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