WFP, FAO Call for Investment in Food Security

The World Food Program-WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have asked the government to invest in early warning mechanisms to avoid drought.

Speaking at celebrations to mark World Food Day at the National Crops Resources Research Institute Namulonge, Wakiso district the representative of the World Food Program to Uganda, Marcus Prior said that while emergency response and emergency food assistance are essential, they cannot be the only solution to ending hunger.

This year’s event was hosted at the, under the theme, “Leaving no one Behind”

Marcus said that emergency response should be accompanied by investments in sustainable livelihoods, early warning, and preparedness, and strengthening of food value chains so that people hit by shocks and crisis every year become self-resilient and reliant.

He said that the government should ensure that people are better empowered to sustain themselves even when emergencies like drought hit their areas and affect agricultural yields.

The call comes at a time when the Karamoja Sub-Region, is experiencing a harsh drought where more than half a million people are going hungry, and more than half of all children are severely malnourished and in need of urgent nutrition assistance.

Food insecurity in Uganda has been blamed on drought. The insecurity is seen especially when food prices go up and a number of people are unable to keep up with the increase in prices and yet have no food on their own.

A 2022 report commissioned by Twaweza through their Sauti za Wanainchi research in which they studied market prices for goods like fuel for motors and foodstuffs like cooking oil, matooke, maize flour, sorghum, and wheat among others showed that households in Uganda are highly vulnerable to price fluctuations for both food commodities and the fuel used in the transportation of goods. This, the report shows have left several people without proper meals, no meals, or one meal a day.

Marcus said that WFP is piloting bee farming and fishing in the Karamoja sub-region because these are the choices of the people of Karamoja to improve their livelihood. He says the program by WFP is planned for expansion.

The FAO Country Representative Antonio Querido said that the most effective way to deal with food insecurity is to address the root cause. This he says requires that the country together with partners build robust, inclusive, and resilient food systems in Uganda.

The Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industries Frank Tumwebaze say that Uganda has enhanced its efforts to achieve not only food security but also animal feed security, nutrition security, and environmental security. He says they have done this through research conducted by the different institutions under the National Agriculture Research Organization -NARO.

The NARO Director, Dr. Silvester Dickson Baguma said that in the last ten years, the organization has produced and rolled out over 100 high-yielding crop varieties which include 32 for maize, 24 varieties of beans, nine for rice, and nine others for cassava. He says such varieties have contributed to food and nutrition security.

He says that rice varieties they released have increased production of rice from one tonne per hectare to 2.4 tonnes per hectare while Maize yields have increased from 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare to 3.7 metric tonnes per hectare.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja appreciated the work done by scientists but urged them to promote their innovations further to benefit the country.

Nabbanja says that is an irony that the country has fertile soils, abundant water, and good weather, but in the Karamoja sub-region, people are suffering from hunger. 

Nabbanja reiterated president Museveni’s call for people to engage in commercial agriculture and that they should take advantage of government programs to get farm inputs and grants to boost their agricultural production.

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