Building on the successes realized in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge, the National Agricultural Research Organization’s refugee project was on Tuesday 3rd October launched in Kyaka II settlement in Kyegegwa district. The inception meeting that doubled as the launch took place at the Bujubuli Basecamp and was attended by UNHCR, WFP and partners in the livelihood sector in the settlement. These include Finchurch Aid, Save the Children, KRC, Hodari Foundation, JESE, Alight, ADRA Uganda, Peace Winds, AVSI, Heifer International, CARE, Live in Green, AHA as well representatives from the host community of Kyegegwa district Local Government.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Camp Commandant Alex Twongyeirwe said that he was confident that the entry of NARO would quickly deal with food shortages and create food security in the settlement. He called on the livelihood partners to make use of NARO to access clean seed for commodities that were needed among refugees.
Dr. Kenneth Akankwasa the Principal Investigator of the project said that even with limited funds the project had enabled refugees in Rwamwanja. “It’s so rewarding to see women in the camp celebrating with food grown from their own fields. This project not only gives food to the refugees but also restores their faith in their efforts,” he said. He said that the NARO intervention would center on beans, bananas, maize, sweet potato, cassava and soybean.
Akankwasa said that the work of seed multiplication of sweet potatoes and cassava would be farmer led to create a chain of the seed system of availing seed to other farmers in the settlement and in the host community, one beneficiary after another.
The project filed coordinator Dominic Twesige encouraged the partner organizations to quickly nominate beneficiaries to receive the first consignment of 100 bags of cassava and 80 bags of sweet potato vines of NARO-generated varieties. These include Narospot 1 and 8 for potatoes and Narocas 1 for cassava. Twesige said that these were fast maturing and resilient varieties. He said that he was glad that World Food Program had offered NARO an opportunity of establishing a demonstration hub of needed agricultural technologies for learning purposes in Kyaka II settlement.
Julius Pachoto the livelihoods associate for UNHCR in Kyaka II settlement said that the intervention of NARO to raise food in the camps was timely since World Food Program (WFP) was now limiting the giving of food relief to new arrivals and the vulnerable like children and elderly. He said that there was an urgent need to raise a lot of food for the increasing numbers of refugees in the settlements.