FAO in Uganda

Induction of Uganda’s Food Systems Coordination Committee marks first step in implementing food systems transformation action plan

Tomatoes for sale at Lira Central Market. Food systems transformation agenda in Uganda will foster flagship investments and multi-stakeholder coordination for food safety.

Members of Uganda’s National Food Systems Coordination Committee (NFSCC) have commenced implementation of Uganda’s pathway to building a nation where healthy and nutritious food is available and affordable for everyone, everywhere. The Committee, formed as a result of Uganda’s participation and commitment at the United Nations Food Systems (UNFSS) Summit in September 2021, to adopt a robust path to food systems transformation, commenced their hefty yet very important job during an induction workshop held from 1-3 December 2022 in Mbale City.

The induction workshop, organized by the Office of the Prime Minister, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under the framework of the European Union-funded project, “The Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST), was a critical first step to orient members on the food systems approach, its principles, drivers and potential benefits for Uganda, once the country firms up and implements its pledges to transform the way food is produced and consumed. During the workshop, NFSCC members drafted a roadmap of activities that include conducting widespread dialogues with relevant actors and developing indicators to track the food systems agenda in Uganda and developing an evidence-based agrifood systems transformation agenda with a plan and flagship investments programme. The workshop helped to strengthen multi-stakeholder coordination and implementation framework for food systems transformation in Uganda.

Transformed agrifood systems will fast-track Uganda’s progress towards the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Already, Uganda is considered a front-runner in the agri-food systems processes, having actively organised over 18 local and national level dialogues that culminated in a national dialogue presided over by His Excellency the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni in August 2021. 

The NFSCC membership includes technical experts from Government ministries, agencies and departments, namely: the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Public Service, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Other members are from National Planning Authority, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, representatives from United Nations agencies, farmers and farmer leaders, youth leaders, civil society, academia, scientists, researchers and private sector actors. The NFSCC was officially launched by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda during World Food Day celebrations on 16 October 2022 at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NACCRI) in Namulonge, Wakiso District.

Officiating at the induction workshop, Edward Walugembe- Commissioner for Strategic Coordination and Implementation at the Office of the Prime Minister and Chair of the NFSCC, emphasized Uganda’s commitment to food systems transformation and highlighted the competitive advantages and potential benefits.

Jean-Marie Byakweli, a Policy and Food Systems Advisor, representing FAO Uganda Representative, underscored the prominence of food systems transformation in building a robust, inclusive, resilient and sustainable food system that addresses poverty, food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. He outlined some of the challenges facing the food systems landscape; including low or underutilised food production potential, post-harvest handling constraints, environmental degradation, pollution, persistent malnutrition, social inequalities, unemployment and drought. 

“FAO is committed to working with the Government of Uganda to realize effective and beneficial food systems transformation and prioritizing actions to fix existing gaps in policy, technical human capital development, food systems governance, advocacy and financial resources mobilisation”, Byakweli said.


He noted that FAO, with support from the government of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Norway, will implement projects to strengthen district-level food system transformation activities to generate evidence for effective policy implementation. Furthermore, the United Nations in Uganda has established a Food Systems Technical Committee, under the tutelage of the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, dedicated to supporting agrifood systems transformation in Uganda. 

Why food systems transformation is essential

 The food system is the collection of all actors, actions, activities and processes involved in taking food from agricultural production through to consumption; “from the farm to plate”, and the resultant outcomes on development. It encompasses planning for production, food production, storage, processing and value addition, marketing, distribution, consumption and its effects on the socio-economic situation, climate, environment, territorial balance and ecosystem development among others. Food systems profoundly influence every aspect of human existence and facilitate achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Grace Bwengye from the National Planning Authority pointed out the importance of aligning food systems transformation actions to Uganda’s National Development Plan(NDP III) and prioritising food systems planning and budgeting district local governments.

Linking Uganda to the international food systems coordination mechanism

Jose Valls Bedeau, a Food Systems Policy Officer from FAO in Rome, noted that food systems transformation is complex and requires recognition of multiple trade-offs. Consequently, countries must ensure effective governance, policy, legal and institutional reforms, as well as behavioural change among other drivers, because we do not lack solutions, but we need to know how to fit them together and how to address them.”  Bedeau revealed that FAO is conducting economic modelling work in countries including Uganda, to generate evidence to support the prioritization of investments geared towards sustainable transformation of the food systems. 

The workshop was also addressed by Svante Helms, from the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub in Rome.  Following the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, the Hub was established to bring together food systems knowledge and expertise from diverse constituencies to support national progress on the SDGs in response to country priorities. The Hub’s role is to support countries to further develop and/or implement their national food systems transformation pathways and other processes, through the coordination of technical and policy support as requested by countries.