Ministers speech at the 2nd Biennial NARO Scientific Conference
SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, ANIMAL INDUSTRY AND FISHERIES, HONOURABLE TRESS N. BUCYANAYANDI AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF NARO SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE, SPEKE RESORT MUNYONYO, KAMPALA, UGANDA 3-7 NOVEMBER 2014
Members of Parliament
The Chairman and Members of NARO Governing Council
The Director General NARO
Delegates from other countries
Ladies and gentlemen;
I am highly gratified and privileged to address a Scientific Conference of this magnitude. I am happy to learn that some participants come from outside Uganda. You are very welcome.
The theme “Connecting Agricultural Research to society” is timely and challenging. It unveils a problem that has been around for a long time but not yet solved. In most cases, technologies are developed without consulting the end users only to remain on the shelf unused. It is my sincere hope that this conference has come up with possible solutions.
I am happy that the conference has been attended by policy makers, the scientists and academia, development partners, traders, farmers and extension workers. The problem has always been that various categories of people work in isolation “Silos” yet they are addressing the same problem. This wastes resources through duplication of effort and does not provide synergy. It is one reason why adoption of certain technologies has taken long. I hope that this partnership and collaboration will continue well into the future.
With Uganda’s population at about 35 million people and growing at 3.2% annually, providing sufficient food and a surplus for income generation is not an easy task. The importance of agriculture and agricultural research can be traced back to 1898 when crops such as coffee, cotton, and tea were introduced for export by our colonial masters. Little research was done on food crops and other useful commodities. Today, it is encouraging to note that a lot of improvement has been made in the food sector. Focus has been extended to generating more income, food security and better livelihood.
The infrastructure of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries and that of the NARS has improved tremendously. Today we boast of NARO with 16 Public Agricultural Research Institutes, the various universities and private sector involvement in research. I am happy that a good number of appropriate technologies have been developed to address problems in crops, livestock and fisheries. Besides policy advice has been given in other areas. Food security has improved and to some extent farmers’ incomes have become better.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The objective for this conference was very clear and revolves on knowledge management. Producing technologies, innovations and knowledge that will not be put to good use is a waste of resources in terms of money, human resource and time. The Government has put Science and Technology among the four priorities in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2014/15. In this plan, the required technologies will be developed, infrastructure to carry out research in the public sector and universities developed, and a critical mass of scientists to spearhead and sustain industrial development and economic transformation will be created. Lastly, collaboration and communication will be encouraged and promoted. This will require forging linkages and partnership at different levels.
My ministry has taken steps to increase production and productivity using various strategies. The country as you know was divided into 10 agro-ecological zones so that each zone can be developed appropriately, have the technologies needed and be provided with the industrial and marketing infrastructure. Researches and advisory/extension staff were made to work very closely under the Agricultural Technology and Agribusiness Advisory Services (ATAAS) project. This has narrowed the gap between technology generation and dissemination and immensely contributed to adoption and knowledge use. Other strategies include use of the Farmer Field School model and encouraging the youth to get involved in Agriculture. The Government will continue to pursue a private sector led and market oriented economy, pursue agricultural development through a commodity approach; according to the 2004 zoning strategy mentioned above, provide agricultural development services to all farmer categories as individuals or in groups while ensuring gender equity and above all continue to provide agricultural services through decentralized system of government and also put in place mechanisms to strengthen the delivery of these services.
In case of NARO, there is need for continuous restructuring so as to deliver efficiently, tackling land issues seriously, quality assurance and increased use of NARO technologies, scaling up and out by forging partnership with other agencies. The involvement of the Uganda Prisons and the Army in seed production is a step in the right direction.
I implore you to ensure that there is an information management system in place so that when old scientists leave the institutions the information is not lost. There is also dire need to translate and package the information so that even the smallest farmer can use it. Disseminating and sharing the technologies and knowledge should be accorded the importance it deserves. As scientists you must publish so that other people learn from you.
Lastly, the world is a global village. Consider entering into protocols for international cooperation. This will avoid duplication of effort and create synergy and hence bringing knowledge to those who need it most. Co-ordination and partnership will be paramount in increasing technology dissemination and adoption. I am glad that NARO already has a strong and capable Governing Council that will make the above expectations a reality. When we finally connect agricultural research to society, then the sky will be the limit.
I would like to sincerely thank the Government of Uganda and Development Partners for supporting agricultural research in this country. I am grateful to NARO Council and the entire NARS for the progress made so far. Scientists, thank you for being innovative and committed to transforming this country into a middle class in years to come.
I thank the organisers of this scientific conference that have attracted passionate participants. I thank all of you ladies and gentlemen for finding time to attend and contribute to the pool of knowledge. Visitors from outside Uganda, please take time and explore what Uganda offers in terms of tourism, agriculture, culture and other areas.
At this juncture, I am privileged to declare this 2014 NARO Scientific Conference officially closed.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY