UNDP Country Director 's remarks at launch of “Enhancing Adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture practices in Uganda” in Bulange, Namutumba District.

18 Jun 2014

The Minister of State for Agriculture,

The Representative of the FAO of United Nations

The Representative of the Secretary General COMESA

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries

Central Government Agencies

The Resident District Commissioners present

The LCV Chairpersons present

The Chief Administrative Officers present

My colleagues from UNDP

All invited guests in your respective capacities

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It is my pleasure to join you today as government launches the UNDP-COMESA supported project on “Enhancing adoption of climate smart agriculture practices in the farming systems of Uganda”.

The growing challenges resulting from climate change, the decreasing land productivity due to fertility depletion, aging soils, and population growth are significantly reducing arable land. The need for climate smart agriculture practices cannot therefore be overemphasized.

Currently, about 36 percent of Uganda’s land area is affected by severe land degradation, and 10 percent is severe. Uganda’s land degradation hotspots are mainly located in the cattle corridor, the southwestern and eastern highlands, eastern and northern Uganda, and the Lake Victoria basin. Soil erosion and nutrient depletion are the most serious forms of land degradation, contributing 80 percent of all natural resource degradation in the country.

Hon. Minister, we are pleased to note that government has prioritised agriculture practices that increase land productivity, minimize greenhouse emissions, adapt food production and marketing to climatic changes and population demands in order to avoid food scarcity crises today and in the future. We believe this will enable food systems to become more efficient and resilient to changes and shocks especially at the household level.

The theme of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification celebrated only just yesterday, was: "Land belongs to the future, lets Climate Proof it". This project is intended to answer to that call, and we are pleased to be proud partners with government on this.

We have already achieved great results in this area under the project on “mainstreaming sustainable land management into activities of 6 districts in cattle corridor of Uganda” which was funded by the Norwegian Government. Through this project, we were able to support some 420 farmers within Kamuli, Kaliro, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Lyantonde and Sembabule districts, to pilot conservation agriculture practices that increased their productivity yields to between 200 and 300%.

As well household incomes increasing significantly, we could see a lot of other changes too – such as more healthier children due to improved nutrition as a result of purchase of higher milk producing breed of animal to supplement the local cows; purchase of motorcycles for household use; and enrollment of children in better schools. We see this as a clear evidence of the benefits of climate smart agriculture, if implemented properly.

As a country with one of the highest population growth rate, adoption of smart agricultural practices will not only insure our food security against climate change, it will also increase the efficiency of utilization of resources like crop residues, contribute to regeneration of natural resources like wood for timber and fuel (through agro-forestry), and encourage use of fertilizers to restore soil fertility which is badly needed for food production by the future generations.

Climate smart agriculture will also help us to take advantage of the globalization of trade and the growing market for food, and industrial resources in the face of climatic change challenges. Through scaling up of the climate smart agriculture practices in this project, it is our hope that Uganda will move closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are coming to an end next year. We expect that this project will contribute to further enrichment of the National Agricultural Policy framework through generating information to inform government policy on climate smart agriculture.

Allow me Honourable Minister, to thank the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Norwegian Government, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union (EU) who have collaborated with UNDP and provided resources for implementing this and other initiatives.

As I conclude, I would like to thank you, Hon. Minister for prioritizing this event and being available to personally preside over the launch. On behalf of UNDP I would like to re-affirm our commitment to continue supporting the Government of Uganda to empower the lives of all people and to build a more resilience nation as we embark on fulfilling the goal of Vision 2040.

Thank you for listening.