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Saturday, June 28, 2014

No fewer than seven Chinese experts and 24 technicians will partner with the Ugandan government to transfer simple and inexpensive technologies used back in China to help boost food production in Africa and ensure food security for the continent NaijaAgronet authoritatively reports.

Although Uganda is food secure, her neighbours, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya all look at Uganda as their food basket. These countries import various produce from Uganda ranging from cereals, vegetables to livestock products.

Chinese experts and technicians are teaming up with senior agricultural experts in Uganda to ensure that Uganda’s food security remains strong and also have enough to supply to the region.

Seven Chinese experts and 24 technicians in the fields of agribusiness, irrigation, horticulture, fishing, cereals among others, are offering help in agricultural research institutions, the ministry of agriculture, local governments and private farms.

“We are supposed to help resolve the food security problem in Africa,” Wu Zhiping, the head of the Chinese team, said.

In his words, Commissioner for Crop Resource at Uganda’s ministry of agriculture, Opolot Okasai  said, “We have a lot of technologies that are appropriate to our people, not from the North, but within the South developing countries. These technologies are relevant to the development of our countries. China which has developed in the last 30 years has got the most appropriate technologies, interventions to cause the transformation especially in Africa,”

Okasai said Chinese experts are working with local experts to set up demonstration centers where local farmers can come and learn.

According to Okasai, Chinese hybrid rice can yield up to 10 metric tonnes per hectare compared to the conventional rice which yields 4.5 metric tonnes per hectare. He said the hybrid Chinese fox tail millet can yield eight metric tonnes per hectare compared to the conventional millet which gives a yield of up to 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare.

Wu said the Chinese rice grown in Uganda has been tested by the ministry of agriculture experts and results show that it is of high quality and the yield is also good.

Studies have shown that hybrid Chinese vegetables can also do well in Uganda with the possibility of producing 12 tonnes per hectare, Wu said.

Apart from using high yielding seeds and fertilizers, the Chinese experts have also introduced a low-cost irrigation system. A demonstration site has been set up in Kawanda near the capital Kampala.

“We need to take this demonstration and let many people see and envisage how they can implement it in their own setups,” Okasai said.

The Chinese experts have also introduced green house farming which can be used in urban areas where agricultural land is limited. They argue that this type of farming can be a source of employment to the many youths in urban areas.

City authorities in the capital Kampala have started to adapt to green house farming as a way of employing the youths.

The expertise brought in by the Chinese is going to have ripple effects as the Ugandan government is now focusing on encouraging commercial agriculture.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on June 5 said commercialization of agriculture was top on his priority list to spur social and economic transformation.

Uganda depends on agriculture as a source of economic livelihood. Over 70 percent of Ugandans depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Sixty-eight percent of the farmers are engaged in subsistence farming which does not generate enough income for households.

Museveni said over the next 12 months the government will prioritize commercial agriculture focusing on crops that will have domestic, regional and international demand to help pull millions of Ugandans out of poverty.

Studies have been carried out on the growth of Chinese hybrid rice in Uganda, with positive results recorded

Chukwudi Obi with additional reports from Xinhua news agency 

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