The National Coffee Resources Research Institute in Mukono was the venue for this year’s National World Food Day Celebrations 2023. The theme for the event was “Water is Life, Water is Food, Leave No One Behind, which is in line with NARO’s efforts towards enhancing water use efficiency, improving resilience to water-related stress, and improving water quality for agriculture in addition to sustainable land and environmental management.
Hon. Frank Tumwebaze was the Chief Guest for the event, which was attended by UN County representatives of the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Food Programme, and other agricultural sector agencies. civil society, political and religious leaders, and private sector organizations.
This year’s celebration saw the launch of six crop varieties newly released by the national variety release committee. These varieties were developed by NARO scientists and included two sweet potato varieties, two maize varieties, one rice variety, and one pasture variety. Details of these varieties are here;
While officiating at the launch of the crop varieties, Hon Tumwebaze took a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the fantastic initiative by NARO, especially for holding the first-ever Coffee Night held in Kituza, a day before the WFD event. “Such innovative approaches are instrumental in showcasing our agricultural diversity and potential.” He spoke.
In relation to the theme, he said it resonates deeply with the core of our agricultural practices – Water, which is not just essential for life; but the backbone of the agricultural sector. It is in line with the visionary six focused areas of the Agricultural Sector that were outlined, including irrigation and mechanization.
Dr. Yona Baguma (Director General NARO), in his remarks, said NARO has in the last five years reoriented her research agenda by anchoring it on the market and products for the industry in addition to food and nutrition security. This is achieved by adequately responding to the growing complexity and factors threatening the security of food supplies, such as climate change, rapid population growth and urbanization, and unexpected shocks (natural disasters, financial crises, and political crises).
He further said that NARO’s research agenda is well aligned with the global, regional, and national development plan, particularly with the NDP III’s primary goal of increasing average household incomes and improving the quality of life of Ugandans. NARO contributes to the NDP III through four programs (agro-industrialization, regional development, natural resources, and STI). It contributes enormously to the attainment of the agro-industrialization goal of increasing commercialization and competitiveness in agricultural production and agro-processing. The seven key result areas of the program are:
- Increasing the total export value of processed agricultural commodities such as coffee, tea, fish, dairy, meat, and maize (and its products);
- Reducing the total value of imported cereals and cereal preparations, vegetable fats and oils, and sugar preparations;
- Increasing the agricultural sector growth rate;
- Increasing labor productivity in the agro-industrial value chain
- Increasing the number of jobs created per year in the agro-industry along the value chain;
- Reduction in the percentage of households dependent on subsistence agriculture as a main source of livelihood; and
- Increasing the proportion of households that are food secure.
He concluded his remarks by asking the government to provide sustainable funding for agricultural research and development, particularly for: Generating technologies to support the agro-industrialization program, establishment and maintenance of a technology and innovation exhibition center to catalyze the uptake of NARO technologies by communities, and supporting the establishment of a national genetic biodiversity conservation center to save the national bioresources for present and future generations.
A multi-purpose coffee laboratory was also officially unveiled by the Hon. Minister on this day. This lab was fully funded by the government of Uganda.
A number of NARO institutes and partners participated in showcasing the various technologies and innovations that are in line with the theme of this year’s World Food Day celebrations.