8 March 2013, Kampala/Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva met with Ugandan Vice-President Edward Sekandi to discuss ways to ensure food security for all Ugandans and reduce poverty by supporting rural smallholders in the country's agriculture sector.
Sekandi met with Graziano da Silva on behalf of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, during the FAO chief's one-day visit to Uganda.
Graziano da Silva commended the government of Uganda for its leadership in the country's efforts to improve agricultural development and climate change mitigation. He also pointed out that Uganda needs a major boost in agriculture to accelerate development. The agriculture sector employs more than 80 percent of Uganda's population.
"We agreed that for the agriculture sector to grow, Ugandans need to support both the small-scale rural subsistence farmers as well as building the bridge for small scale farmers who want to go into commercial farming," said the Director-General, who pledged FAO's support in transforming the country's agriculture sector.
Although Uganda generally has food, its food security and nutrition situation continues to face challenges, such as unequal food distribution and pockets of food insecurity in areas like Karamoja, in the northeast. Efforts, therefore, need to be made to ensure that nutritious food is well distributed and consumed in all parts of Uganda.
Priority areas and activities
Since 1981, FAO has been working with the Government of Uganda to design and implement policies and programmes aimed at eradicating the root causes of hunger, malnutrition and poverty, develop farmer organizations, study storage capabilities, and improve integrated water management systems and water harvesting.
FAO is currently implementing the Country Programming Framework (2010-2014), which outlines priority areas and activities for FAO's assistance to Uganda, in support of the government's national development policy objectives in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, natural resources, and rural development.
Women and food security
As the world community observed International Women's Day, Graziano da Silva lamented that, in spite of the major role played by women in producing food and feeding their families, little attention has been paid to the key role rural women play in ensuring decent livelihoods for their households.
"We will continue to support FAO member governments, including Uganda, in helping cooperatives and producer organizations to thrive, by developing adequate policies, legal frameworks, economic incentives, capacity building, and forums for dialogue on policy making," the FAO Director-General declared in a press conference.
In fulfilling its mandate to eradicate hunger and reduce poverty in sustainable ways, FAO generates evidence, knowledge and good practices which support the emergence of more self-reliant, inclusive, gender-equitable, and market-oriented producer organizations and cooperatives.
While in Uganda, Graziano da Silva met government officials and representatives of the private sector, academia, farmer organizations, and civil society, with whom he discussed the status of Uganda's agricultural sector, their respective contributions and the need for further assistance, especially through FAO.
In discussions with ministers, he underscored the importance of multi-sectoral and inter-ministerial coordination in tackling obstacles to agricultural development.
In order to improve the performance of small-scale and commercial farmers in the agriculture sector, Graziano da Silva emphasized the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, and said the country needs to urgently start a process of implementing the guidelines. This process would involve civil society and the private sector.
They agreed they should start this process with FAO's support.