Mbale, Eastern Uganda – The Government of Uganda together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched small grants to help farmers in the mountainous Elgon region to tackle land degradation and reverse the impact of climate change.
The grants provided under UNDP’s “Integrated Landscape Management for Livelihoods Improvement and Ecosystems Resilience (ILM) project, will be administered through Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
At least 15 CBOs from three districts in Eastern Uganda including; Mbale, Bulambuli and Manafwa received grants totaling to 530 million shillings (approximately $142,368). The grants will be used to procure farm implements which will enable farmers to practice climate smart agricultural practices.
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Sempijja and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Rosa Malango, who was represented by Ms. Sarah Mujabi, the Programme Officer for Climate Change at the UNDP Uganda Country Office, launched the grants at Mbale District headquarters on July 3rd, 2018.
Each of the three districts local governments also received a Global Positioning System (GPS) to record coordinates of where the intervention has been done, along with a laptop, camera and printer to document and share their success stories.
In a speech read for her by Ms. Mujabi, the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Malango, pointed out that projects such as these were important to address the ruin caused by flooding and landslides which arises from land degradation and climate change which affects the peoples’ daily efforts to fight poverty and hunger and live healthy lives.
“You see this impact in the sorrow of a mother grieving for her near-to-harvest garden that has been washed away or in the tears of a desperate father who must rebuild after the family house was flattened by boulders in the wake of a landslide,” Ms Malango said.
Minister Sempijja and Ms. Mujabi, accompanied by the Mbale District Chairman, Mr Benard Mujaasi and several district and ministry officials also toured the Elgon landscape to witness first-hand the effects of land degradation and climate change on the livelihood of the communities.
“I have never seen something like this,” the Minister said as he inspected gardens in Bushiuyo village, Mbale district, where farmers have dug contours across the slope and planted grass to stop soil erosion.
The Minister was impressed that the implementation of the ILM project is at community level and that farmers are involved in finding solutions to the problems affecting them.
“I am happy to visit projects where people are involved in using scientific methods that can stop soil erosion and landslides,” Minister Sempijja observed.
He proposed that successes of the ILM project be documented and used to develop a template on sustainable land use, which should be distributed to every farmer in the country as a reference.
He also urged the local communities in the mountainous region susceptible to landslides and flooding, to implement the sustainable land use techniques learned under UNDP’s ILM project so that their farming is sustainable, and their land is protected.
“We must stop soil erosion, landslides and flooding to improve our agriculture for better yields,” the Minister said, adding that by trapping all the water from the mountain top, the communities are able to protect the soil’s nutrients from escaping hence boosting its fertility and productivity, hence boosting the farmers’ incomes.
Ms. Malango noted that the ILM project will help Uganda achieve Sustainable Development Goals one on no poverty, goal two on zero hunger), goal13 on climate action and goal 15 on life on land.
The project which started in 2017 will also help Uganda achieve her commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change to reduce 22 percent Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and to increase carbon sequestration.
Persistent drought worries Turkana, Karimojong pastoralists.
Moroto, Uganda , The persistent drought in the Karamoja region has created a lot of worries among the pastoralists.
The region has for last four months been hit by a dry spell that has dried up several water sources and grass that the pastoralists have been grazing their animals.
John Bosco Apaloris one of the pastoralists in Nakapelimoru Sub County in Kotido district says that the current drought was posing risk to the health of the animals.
He describes the current drought in the region as unfortunate adding that several animals that had grown fat are now growing malnourished due to lack of pasture and water.
According to Apaloris most of the rivers which used to help them water their animals have also all dried up forcing the pastoralists to graze and water their animals in Kobebe dam which could also dry up.
Our cattle were very healthy when pasture and water were there but since the drought started the health of our livestock is threatening due to lack of enough water and pasture,” he said.
John Dengel another pastoralist in Moroto appealed to the government to embark on constructing valley dams that can keep high levels of water even during the dry spell.
“We thank the government for constructing some of the valley dams but most of these valley dams are shallow they dry up very first because they don’t store adequate water that can push the all drought season,” he said.
Francis Kiyonga the LCV Chairperson of Amudat district said the current drought might again cause conflicts among the pastoralists with the neighbouring districts.
“As leaders, we are not sure how to save the livestock because the pastoralists of Amudat, Nakapiripirit and part of Napak always cross with their livestock to the wetland areas of Lokilotor and Bunamutye in the border between Kween and Bunamutye districts but all these wet areas have been converted Chinese investor into rice Scheme,” he said.
Joseph Lomonyang the LCV Chairperson Napak said the current drought is worse compared to the dry spells that Karamoja has experienced in the past.
Ambrose Lotukei the LCV Chairperson of Kotido said the government needs to embark on constructing a multipurpose dam that can help to keep water for animals in Karamoja.
Smallholder Farmers Can Now Access Agricultural Credit Facility Without Collateral
The Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) has devised a path-breaking innovation of block allocation to enable farmers access loans based on alternative collateral such as chattel mortgages, cash flow based financing, and character-based loans, among others, Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego, Deputy Governor, Bank of Uganda, has revealed.
“This innovation is unlocking access to credit in areas with communal land tenure; and most especially, for micro and smallholder farmers who are otherwise excluded for lack of collateral to secure credit.
“By September 2020, the ACF had advanced UGX 2.8 billion to 187 small and micro borrowers with non-traditional collateral under block allocation,” he said.
The ACF is administered by the Bank of Uganda on behalf of the Government of Uganda.
The Deputy Governor said that through this innovation, the ACF working with the participating institutions, has extended loans of up to UGX 20 million to small-scale farmers.
He further said that block allocations support financial inclusion and advance equity in economic activity by serving women and youths with limited property rights.
Dr. Atingi-Ego made the remarks just before he a launched the 2020 Agricultural Finance Yearbook at Imperial Royal Hotel, Kampala on Tuesday.
The Agricultural Finance Yearbook has produced by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) since 2014/15.
The yearbook contains several agri-financing models for various commodities such as rice, dairy, coffee, among others. The models have some standard features:aggregation of producers for economies of scale, functional linkages between value chain actors (input distributors, extension agents, agri-markets information providers, producers, storage units, marketing agents, processors, financial service providers, wherein some players are ‘lead agents’ in the segments where value chains are weak.
The Ugandan economy is still heavily reliant on agriculture, with 69 percent of households dependent on subsistence farming and nearly 75 percent of all households.
Atingi-Ego revealed that the share of value-added by the agriculture sector in the economy stands at about 25 percent, presently.
“Boldly facing these facts, it is clear that whenever the BoU announces the Central Bank Rate (CBR), the intended policy signal may not penetrate through to the majority of the population. It is, also, quite evident that the route for the CBR signals to reach the people will be unblocked through agricultural finance,” Atingi-Ego said.
He added: “Fortunately, by seeking to close the information gap between agriculture and finance, these yearbooks bring much-needed illumination to the recesses of information asymmetry, thereby improving risk analysis and credit scoring of agricultural credit.”
Uganda’s coffee exports on the rise
The Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) says that the country’s coffee exports are increasing, showing a gradual rise in the last two years.
“Coffee exports for Sep 2019 to Oct 2020 totalled to 5,409,054 bags worth $513.99m compared to 4,465,534 bags worth $435.81m the previous year,” UCDA noted in a tweet on Wednesday.
“This is a 20% and 18% increase in quantity and value. Performance attributed to increase in production, fruitation of new coffee trees and good weather,” the authority added.
In the last one year (since June 2019), the highest earnings from coffee exports of $48.2m were registered in January 2020 followed by the August 2019 earnings of $46.3m.
More so, Uganda’s coffee was ranked third best in the world by cup tasters who graded 1,229 coffees from around the world.
According to the Research Gate, studies show that Uganda is one of the largest producing and exporting countries of coffee products in the world.
Coffee production has heavily contributed to both domestic and foreign earnings in the country.
Moreover, coffee also serves as a primary source of labour, especially for the rural smallholder farmers.
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