Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah has today, met the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Uganda Country Representative, Mr Antonio Querido, with agricultural modernisation, food security and commercial agroforestry high on the agenda.
Querido, who was on a courtesy visit, underscored Uganda’s position as the region’s food basket but added that deforestation should be curtailed with the promotion of commercial agroforestry as well as agriculture modernization.
“Your country is losing its forest cover at a very fast rate; we have a huge programme on commercial forestry. How can we create community forests that can provide the timber to release the pressure on natural forests,” he said.
He said FAO runs a grant that supports especially communities with at least 10,000 hectares of land with trees and technical support to raise forests.
The harvest in seven years, he added, can be in the region of US$3 million.
With commercially grown timber made available, he said, deforestation will be steeply curbed and the ecosystem will support agriculture, which he said should be complemented with modernisation in terms of irrigation and advanced equipment to enable all-year round production.
Oulanyah hailed the arrangement, saying if deepened, it will transform the rural economies and save the eco-system.
Drawing comparisons with Israel, Oulanyah said Uganda has the potential to produce food in excessive amounts to support the population and also ensure there is enough for export.
“In Israel for example, precision agriculture is now in terms of irrigation where every plant receives a calculated amount of water at a given time; we are going to have to invest heavily in irrigation,” he said.
He supported the grant for commercial agroforestry, saying it comes in handy for places where land is communally owned, and that such projects can help generate income for the communities.
Querido said whereas Uganda is fairly food secure, problems of hunger still persist in the Karamoja region pledging FAO’s support to put an end to the crisis.
He also appraised the Speaker of the upcoming Global Food Systems Summit 2021, to be held virtually due to the Covid19 pandemic, with the intention to realign global leaders with the agenda to bring an end to hunger.