USAID Uganda Mission Director Visits NARO

Richard Nelson, the USAID Uganda Mission Director, visited NARO on June 27, 2023. He was accompanied by Amy Beeler, the Head of the Economic Growth Unit, and other technical staff.

The delegation was received by Dr. Yona Baguma, Director General of NARO, Dr. William Olaho Mukani, chairperson of the NARO Governing Council, members of top management, and PARI Directors at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge. The Delegation was then given a tour of the facilities constructed with support from USAID, which include the Biosciences lab, confined field trails of cassava, sweet potato screen houses, biosafety, and biosecurity lab.

After the field visits, the team was taken through an exhibition display that included NARO institutes implementing the Feed the Future Agricultural Research Activity project, academia, the private sector, and CGIAR partners.

In his remarks, Richard Nelson said he was delighted to be visiting NARO after years of hearing so many things about it and was inspired by the tour. he appreciated the partnership with NARO and all the representation from the various institutions. He said the USAID partnership focuses on three things:

  • People: Technical capacity training that has seen a number of NARO scientists trained.
  • Products: Resulting in 30 crop varieties developed and introduced in the country, something is fascinating. To this, he said, all the products NARO is helping to develop through research, and their impact is amazing.
  • Policy: Richard was glad to see all the policies and laws that they have been a part of, with a few more to do. He desired that the GMO law would be passed so as to enhance agricultural research in Uganda.

Regarding Partnerships, he said he is very interested in how NARO’s work affects and generates opportunities for the private sector across the value chain. “The private sector is the future of Uganda and needs to grow and expand into this.”

He said it was obvious that partners present at the event had the same vision and goal in mind and that good things were happening. highlighted the good working relationship between USAID and Uganda over the last 60 years, which has seen agriculture prioritized. He appreciated MAAIF for the good working relationship and believes that the partnership will continue.

In his remarks, Dr. Yona Baguma, DG of NARO, gave an overview of the areas of research and research-related projects that NARO has implemented over the years with support from USAID. The initiatives have focused on four main areas:

  1. Building the human and infrastructural capacity of the national research system to respond to and address threats to agricultural production;
  2. Generating technologies, innovations, and management practices for our farmers and private sector in both the input industry, such as seed and the value industry, such as processors;
  3. Building institutional and national systems for effective uptake and commercialization of innovations from the research system
  4. Understanding the agricultural landscape to inform research through pest and disease surveillance, profitability studies, outreach, and other socio-economic indicators

The DG then went on to give a summary of the capacity development outputs and outcomes from the support for human and infrastructural capacity. He said the impact of NARO’s collaboration with development partners, especially USAID, is evident in the entire agriculture sector and the food system. Currently, most of the key commodity varieties planted in Uganda are from research, with maize at 70%, cassava at over 70%, and all Robusta coffee grown by farmers today in Uganda is from NARO’s elite lines bred in the past 25 years. Similar trends apply to many other commodities, including beans, groundnuts, fruits, and vegetables.

He acknowledged and appreciated the different partners that work with NARO along the different value chains: academia, the private sector, and One CGIAR Center. He concluded his remarks with three prayers to the USAID head of mission.

The need for support in;

  • Human capacity development,
  • Infrastructure development to tap into new innovations and
  • One-stop technology and exhibition center.


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