The Korea International Corporation Agency (KOICA) has boosted Uganda’s agriculture with a new research project dubbed the vege seed project that’s focusing on improving and boosting research on vegetable seeds.
It also aims at building the certification capacity of national institutions such as NARO and NSCS of the MAAIF and improve technical skills of vegetable farmers. It will also lay a foundation for the mid to long term development of new vegetable varieties in Uganda.
Launched on 24th August 2022 KOICA has supported the project with $8 Million to bolster research with Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAIF) and it’s institutions of NARO and NaCRI.
The 9 year project will focus on five major vegetables whose research hasn’t been implemented fully for certain reasons. The include Nakati, Tomotoes, Cabbage, Onions and Chill. This means vegetable seeds will be readily available for farmers than depending on imported seeds.
According to the implementing agencies, NARO and KOICA say the project has so far been rolled out in three districts of Mukono, Luwero and Wakiso and have selected several farmers’ groups at all engagement levels.
While speaking at the launch, Dr Ambrose Agona the Director General of the National Agriculture Research Institution (NARO) noted that this project came at a right time and will help farmers access high quality but cheap vegetable seeds that will eventually increase productivity and earnings to the country’s economy from vegetables which currently sits at $34 Million.
On his part, the project Manager of this 9-year research deal Dr Ray Chong assured Ugandans that the vege seed project is a game changer in vegetables because it will bolster variety.
He however said the final products after research, testing and certification will reach the grassroot farmers in the next four to Six years given the longer period of developing the crops to adapt with Uganda’s eco system.
From a scientific perspective, Dr Godfery Aseya the Director of the National Crop Research Institute (NaCRI) says it’s the first time Uganda will have her own onion seeds through project because all has always been imported at exorbitant prices.
“Onions grown in Uganda is imported because on research it has to work on the onion flowers to allow pollination to take place, this needs very low temperatures that we don’t have in Uganda but this project will develop infrastructure with controlled temperatures”-Noted Dr. Aseya
He further urged Ugandans to stop doubting researched products because the world has changed and it’s about research for improved output. Ugandans often times draw criticism and doubt on modified crops.
“Almost 99% of the varieties on the market are from research, people consume developed and adapted in our conditions so no doubt on the products being developed”- Said Dr Aseya.
The launch event that took place at NARO Namulonge in Wakiso district was graced by the Korean Ambassador to Uganda H.E Park Sung-soo and the State Minister for Agriculture Fred Bwiino Kyakulaga who hailed the Korean government for such a great project that will drastically improve agriculture in the country.
Minister Kyakulaga expressed optimism that this project once research is finished, will drive the country to economic heights and it has come at a time when government is rolling out the Parish Development Model (PDM) to improve on house hold incomes.