A delegation from the Government of South Sudan visited NARO on a learning visit on the 17th of November 2023. The team led by their Minister of Livestock and Fisheries was received by NARO’s top leaders at the National Crops Resources Research Institute, Namulonge.
Upon arrival, they held a brief meeting with the NARO leadership, led by Dr. Swidq Mugerwa (Deputy Director General – Research Coordination) on behalf of the Director General who was away on other official duty. Dr Mugerwa gave an overview of what NARO does, its structure, and its areas of operation. He then went ahead to show the different areas of collaboration that NARO has bad the people of South Sudan over the years specifically in the areas of agricultural research and development.
Regarding capacity building, he said, NARO has trained and built the capacity of scientists, availed NARO rice and maize varieties to the region, strengthened the maize breeding teams of South Sudan, especially in disease management of maize lethal necrosis, and supported refugees from South Sudan. With this background, he said there is already a good working relationship and there was only a need for a formal framework to guide and further what is being done.
The Undersecretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF), who represented the Permanent Secretary welcomed the delegation to Uganda and specifically to NARO. He also conveyed apologies to the sector ministers who were due to travel out of the country on that very day on various official engagements and assignments. “As a country, Uganda is currently mobilizing markets for our products and this is part of the reason why the ministers had to travel,” he said.
He said that with the already existing frameworks, between the two countries, the ministries can work toward the development of both sides. He concluded by wishing them a good stay as they learned and taught each other so that at the end of the tour, both sides would be better.
The South Sudan Food and Agriculture Organisation Country Representative (FAO) said he was grateful to NARO for the opportunity to visit and he shared that though he is now working in the international scene, he too started out in agricultural research in Kenya. He informed the meeting that FAO has been in charge of food security in South Sudan, especially in the crop sector, and as a region, East Africa consumes about 20% of the total food aid yet we are just 0.2% of the world’s population.
South Sudan still importing seed from Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Netherlands, Italy, and France. 1.3 million children in South Sudan are chronically malnourished and as FAO, they are very committed to working with research to ensure that issues of nutrition and food security are addressed. He concluded by saying, “We look forward to working together with South Sudan so that sustainable development goal 2 is solved.”
Hon. Minister of Livestock and Fisheries – said he was happy with the warm reception and delighted to be visiting NARO. He went on to say Research is very important and vital in the development and transformation of agriculture. Without it, we might not know what to do. He gave an example of China where through rice research, they are now able to feed themselves.
He reiterated the fact that in Africa, we are not concentrating on our own knowledge, in spite of the abundant land and fertile soils. The land in South Sudan is still so fertile that they do not use fertilizers. He urged the scientists to think more about how to help our countries, especially through innovations in disease management in livestock and crops.
Hon. Said NaCRRI is very important and needs strong support from the government because it has the potential to transform agriculture and the economy.
Concluded by saying that South Sudan and Uganda are twins and he was appreciative of the leaders of both countries for their leadership and free movement between the two countries. “When leadership is good then the community is happy.”
Encouraged both about the need to support and collaborate with each other to build each other. NB: This delegation toured the rice, cassava, and bean research programs, tissue culture facilities, and nutritional analytical facilities, amongst other facilities therein in NaCRRI then the Cowshed, Feed mill, Aflasafe, and Embryo Transfer laboratory at the National Livestock Research Resources Institute (NaLIRRI).