By Ronald Ssekandi
KAMPALA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Uganda on Tuesday signed a 2.4 million U.S. dollar agriculture project under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-China South-South cooperation framework.
Vincent Ssempijja, minister of agriculture, said the money provided by China through FAO South-South cooperation would be used in efforts to boost agriculture production and productivity over the next three years.
The financing agreement was signed during the ongoing FAO-China South-South and Triangular Cooperation conference where experts are discussing measures to scale up agricultural production.
Ssempijja said Chinese agribusiness experts and technicians will interact with Ugandan farmers, sharing best practices and success stories to increase agriculture output and household income.
This would be the third phase since 2012 when China, under the FAO South-South cooperation, started sending experts and technicians to Uganda to share their experiences and best practices.
According to Uganda's ministry of agriculture, the third phase has been partly designed to commercialize agricultural production with a target of increasing exports to the Chinese market.
During the phase, the project, according to Ssempijja, will introduce more Chinese technologies and management practices.
"One such technology to be introduced under the livestock sub-sector is the big ear goat breed of 150-200 kg body weight that will improve Uganda's livestock industry for local and export markets," he said.
The minister said the first and second phase of the project have facilitated technology transfer and enabled improvements in the production and productivity of crop, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors.
During the phases, Chinese hybrid rice variety and Chinese foxtail millet variety were introduced to farmers.
The rice yields about 10 tonnes per hectare compared to improved and local varieties which yield 3.5 and 2.5 tonnes per hectare respectively, according to figures by the ministry of agriculture.
The foxtail millet variety yields about 5 tonnes per hectare as compared to improved and local finger millet varieties grown in Uganda which yield 2.5 and 1 tonnes per hectare respectively.
In the project, a 220 million U.S. dollar China-Uganda Agricultural Cooperation Industrial Park was established in the central part of the country. Launched in 2016, the park provides employment to over 1,500 Ugandans.
Uganda on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding on agricultural cooperation with China's Sichuan Province. The move, according to Uganda is aimed at increasing cooperation in the sector where over 80 percent of the country's population derives its livelihood.
Agriculture has for several years formed the backbone of Uganda's economy.
According to the ministry the two sides, Uganda and Sichuan Province will discuss trade in agriculture products, access to markets, and the development of the agriculture industrial park in the central Ugandan district of Luwero.
Ssempijja said Uganda continues to receive support from China through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
He said African countries can learn key lessons from China, which once was at the same level of development with African countries but is now the world's second largest economy.
He said China took deliberate steps using the agriculture sector to transform its economy.
"We strongly believe that by working together with our Chinese friends, through joint business ventures, investment arrangements and win-win cooperation, majority of Africans will quickly eradicate poverty," Ssempijja said.