Fighting Global Hunger ; Maj Jessica Alupo calls for support to Farmers

By E K Benj @kivumbi Updated at 1129 EAT on Sunday 24th Oct 2021

WAKISO- The Vice of Uganda H.E Maj Jessica Alupo on Saturday while delivering a speech on behalf of her boss President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the National Agriculture Research Laboratories in Kawanda, Wakiso said as a country and the government, reflects on the international and national solidarity to the struggle against hunger,under nutrion and how these variables impact on development.

“Today Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate world food day to promote world wide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.” Alupo said.

She noted that this world food day is being celebrated for the second time amidst covid 19 pandemic whose reputation disrupted the food system and triggered unprecedented global economic recessions resulting in a dramatic lose of livelihood and income and also increased food insecurity inequality and food crisis in some parts of the world.

“And while the world struggles with covid 19, these uncertain lives have made many rekindle the appreciation made for a-thing that some take for granted and many go without food.

Therefore, in moment like this it is more important to recognize and support the farmers and workers through out the food system.In recent decades, the world has made a significant progress in improving agricultural productivity.

Uganda’s Vice President H.E Maj Jessica Alupo represents President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the National Agriculture Research Laboratories in Kawanda, Wakiso joining UN Agencies to mark World Food Day 2021 photos by E K Benj (Kivumbi Earnest Benjamin) Follow us on www.twitter.com/HICGINewsAgency www.instagram.com/HICGINewsAgency www.youtube.com/HICGINewsAgency www.facebook.com/HICGI View 93 Images here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2043768335796573&type=3

Additionally, though we produce food in bulk, our systems luck balance, hunger, obesity, environmental degradation, loss of biological diversity, food lose, waste and food security are some of the issues that undermine the imbalance.

This year’s celebration theme is “Our action are Our future, better production, better nutrition, a better environment and better life”. which gives an opportunity for the country to reflect on the crop global commitment to achieve sustainable development goal 2.

VP earlier toured stalls of exhibitors an activity that took her more than an hour interacting with them.

Full Speech of H.E Antonio Querido, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – FAO country representative to Uganda.

H.E Antonio Querido – FAO Boss to Uganda PHOTO/Courtesy

The Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries , The Country Director of World Food Programme, The Director General of the National Agricultural Research Organization, The Executive Director of Food Rights Alliance, Colleagues from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Colleagues from FAO and other UN agencies, Ladies and gentlemen of the media

On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it is my honour to address you today as we commemorate 2021 World Food Day in Uganda. Today is also the 76th anniversary of the founding of FAO.

The theme for this year’s World Food Day is “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.This calls for transformation of agri-food systems to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to enough, affordable, safe and nutritious food to lead active and healthy lives.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, 

With more than 3 billion people (almost 40% of the world’s population) who cannot afford a healthy diet, and obesity on the rise in all regions, we must all do better. With an ever-growing population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, we need to feed the world and nurture the planet because only healthy ecosystems can guarantee us a long-term supply of safe and nutritious food. We need agri-food systems that work.

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The agri-food system covers the journey of food and non-food products from farm to table – including when it is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, transported, distributed, traded, bought, prepared, eaten and disposed of. It also includes non-food products such as the cotton or wool used to make clothes, forestry and biofuels.

However, agri-food systems are contributing to climate change and related effects such as lower crop yields and livestock productivity, declines in fisheries, aquaculture and agroforestry production, long dry spells, unplanned destructive rains and unforeseen pest problems like the Desert Locusts. 

Just last month, FAO joined the Government of Uganda and the UN in several national-level dialogues and eventually the global Food Systems Summit, hosted by the UN Secretary General. The dialogues and the Summit resulted in several bold actions to change the way we think about, grow and use food, ensuring that agriculture works for everyone, everywhere. Notable actions call for stronger food safety measures, more robust social protection policies, increased access to technology and innovations, investment in research and favourable policy environment. 

Your Excellency, 

This is the second time we are commemorating World Food Day during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted food security and contributed to an economic recession that has added millions to the 690 million people who suffer from hunger. Here in Uganda, we witnessed continued production of agricultural produce but many producers had challenges to transport and access markets to sell. 

WHAT CAN WE DO? 

FAO estimates that as much as $40 to $50 billion in annual investments on targeted interventions are needed to end hunger by 2030. There are many low-cost, high-impact projects that can help millions of people overcome hunger. FAO is happy to be implementing some of these interventions, with partners and national governments worldwide. In Uganda, we are working to increase the resilience of refugees and host communities to plan and grow their own food but also engage in economic activities to uplift their livelihoods. 

We need more investment in research and development to make farming more technologically advanced. We need innovation in digital agriculture and to improve literacy rates among women because this can go a long way in reducing hunger. Knowledge, innovation and capacity building are the path to change.  

Your Excellency,

Agriculture, agri-food value chains and digital innovations have great potential to transform Uganda’s economy and rural livelihoods. I am happy to inform you that FAO is working with MAAIF to look into the application of block chain technology and related digital technologies for sustainable agri-food value chain development in Uganda. Block chain technology is one of the emerging digital innovations with high potential for economic, social and environmental impact and is considered to be one of the most promising technological revolutions today. Our intervention focusses on increasing knowledge and improving capacity of block chain technology for agri-food value chains development, and its application and potential to solve challenges and strengthen agri-food value chains.FAO will support inclusive technology adoption including policies, institutional support, capacity building and infrastructure development, and for incentivizing the private sector to lead its adoption and development.

I wish to recognise and congratulate the farmers in Uganda – the men and women in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. These are our food heroes and primary sources for nutritious foods. As guardians of the planet’s natural resources, their decisions lie at the root of transforming agri-food systems. Innovative technologies and training, finance, incentives and social protection can help farmers to provide sustainable healthy diets locally and globally. FAO is proud to support the farmers across the country to address issues of climate change, improve the productivity of their land, livestock and crop fields and to adopt modern technology. 

Your Excellency 

Some of the farmers that FAO is supporting are youth. This month, FAO, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the AVSI Foundation, will recognise 270 youthful agripreneurs. We shall hold regional awards ceremonies at the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) institutes in Mbarara, Lira, Serere and Namulonge. This is the second cohort of the Youth Champions initiative, which FAO and MAAIF started in 2017. We are proud of them and we commit to empowering more young people to harness the potential of Uganda’s agriculture. 

However, ladies and gentlemen, Uganda has a young and growing population from which it can reap a significant demographic dividend that will foster economic growth and development. I call upon partners of the Government of Uganda to join FAO and the United Nations in Uganda, to increase the contribution of young people through modern and better agriculture. 

Solving the food systems transformation puzzle will call for plenty of creativity, energy and steadfastness. FAO remains committed to working with the Government, its partners and farmers to transform the way we produce,consume and think about food; for better environment, better production, better nutrition and better life.

Happy World Food Day to you all. 

Remarks by World Food Program – WFP to Uganda Country Director, Abdirahman MEYGAG

WFP Uganda Country Director, HE Abdirahman MEYGAG

Eminent members of the press, Distinguished guests

I am Dr. Robert Ackatia-Armah, WFP Uganda Head- Nutrition, School Feed, Agricultural Markets, Gender and Protection, delivering these remarks on behalf of WFP Uganda’s Country Director, Abdirahman MEYGAG

What is food? Food feeds our dreams; it’s the fuel that gets us going – a fundamental building block of our humanity. We see here today a variety and diversity of commodities (some from the amazing work that NARO does on food varieties with its partners to the various policy and livelihood related interventions supported by FAO, IFAD, CSOs and our very own, WFP’s, towers of hope that demonstrate the power of post-harvest management critical to the Ugandan food system.

Every single exhibition today is a testament that we are formidable partners in this journey to zero hunger. It shows that the government of Uganda, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Fisheries and Industry, is committed to harnessing the potential of Uganda’s food system to respond to consumer needs and ensuring that we make hunger history. I congratulate you all on your hard work that went into creating the stunning stories of the power and essentiality of food that you communicate through your exhibitions.

On days like this, surrounded by so much innovation and commitment, I cannot help buts ask myself the difficult questions. Why is it that 2.4 million children in Uganda today are chronically malnourished? Why does a child somewhere in the world die of hunger every ten seconds? Why are 361,000 people in Karamoja, 30 percent of the population, going hungry? Why is 50 percent of the refugee populationliving in poverty? Why do we continue to sing the same song of women not owning land even if they till most of it? Why do children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, go to bed hungry? Why do children go to school hungry when we expect them to excel at their education, why can most of the population afford a nutritious diet, why is access to food? Imagine the experience many have due to lack of food.

Let us remind ourselves quickly of the definition of food security  which is critical to our food systems

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit, 1996)

Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is that inequitypermeates our food system, and we must act fast if we are to make zero hunger a reality.  Many speakers have observed the oxymoron that our global regional and national food system has become. A world of plenty, food production and food waste existing alongside a life of sheer need. Obesity existsalongside undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. We can only have better production, better nutrition, a better future, and a better life – the four betters – by ensuring that the most vulnerable around us fully participate and benefitfrom the food system so that when they are hit by crisis, they receive the support they need. As WFP, with support from Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Korea, Norway, Sweden, UK and the US, we are proud of our long-term partnership with the government of Uganda in this critical part of the food system. Emergency support is important for healing the most vulnerable and setting them off to self-reliance.

This is why we continue to advocate that if we are to leave no one behind, ensure that food as a basic human right is attained, address malnutrition in all its forms and reach zero hunger, we will need the continuous support of donors and all stakeholders to address the resource constraints that limit our capacity to serve the most vulnerable within our society not forgetting our displaced brothers and sisters in the refugee setting; (the second-largest in Africa)

Like me, ladies and gentlemen, you must havemarvelled at the baskets by the artist, Acaye Kerunen– a collection of baskets used in the food system all over Uganda. These baskets, created and used by women to plant, harvest, dry, serve our food. These baskets are also used for fishing, storing food and nourishing families. The defiant display of these baskets challenges us to think hard about the women in the food system and how we often look at them but do not really see them. 

Women’s productive work in the agri-food system is the bedrock of this country, in addition to the socio-cultural demands required to raise the next generation. So, as we gaze at these baskets, we hopeto challenge ourselves to give women the support they need in the food system, specifically, access to knowledge, finance, land ownership, and many more.

WFP, with support from Sweden, EU and China, continues to provide emergency nutrition support to the most vulnerable women, the pregnant and breastfeeding, as well as children under five as we continue to make improvements in equity around our food systems. For example, in Karamoja, UBOS tells us that poverty rates post-COVID-19 moved from 60 percent to 66 percent, going from 20 times poorer to 30 times poorer than the capital, Kampala, whose poverty rate is two percent. In addition to thespecialised nutritious foods provided to the most vulnerable, we also provide a protective ration to their families. The protective ration is food in recognition that you cannot treat malnourished members of the family and leave out the hungry ones. In addition, we give further nutrition support to school children through a take-home ration that replaced hot school meals and ensured that learning continues while at home and children, for whom school food is often the only place they reliably get food, do not stay hungry. These are short term actions. For longer-term, sustainable and integrated actions, our programmes will continue to align with the policy directions of the NDP3 and its implementation modalities, working closely with districts and at the parish level.

Food is a source of joy and hope. The nurturer of future communities and nations. But are we getting food to everyone? Are our supply chains efficient and affordable? WFP has worked with partners to strengthen the knowledge and skills of 25,500 smallholder farmers in post-harvest management, bulking, and collective marketing, focusing on national and household food security crops working closely with MAAIF and other partners. As a result, the farmers we have supported are now able to produce quality food, using environmentally friendly methods that fetch better prices that enable them to support their families and transform their lives. 

Today, WFP buys up to 80 percent of the food from local farmers. In Karamoja, WFP collaborates with FAO to strengthen the early warning system and give farmers simple and reliable weather information to prepare for and respond to shocks. At WFP, we know that the people who produce our food need the right skills and knowledge to ensure a healthy country, especially in the face of climate change. Yet, again here, poverty rates among farmers, especially smallholder farmers, are higher than the poverty rates of people involved in other enterprises. A situation we cannot continue to accept.

The ironies of an exclusive system are not inevitable. However, the government of Uganda has shown that it is committed to addressing all elements of the food system to meet emergency and long-term livelihood needs, as demonstrated in its commitment statement at the recent Global Food Systems Summit. 

The support and collaboration COVID-19 response, our capacity transfer and development efforts in the food system fortify our belief as WFP that we have a valuable and formidable partner in the government of Uganda. We pledge our commitment to support the government in improving the food system, building knowledge, making, and implementing policies that address the food needs of the most vulnerable – as we work towards better production, better nutrition, a better life and future for everyone and not just a fewand rewrite the stories of the most vulnerable. Indeed, our actions are our future, and with better production, better nutrition, a better environment, we, together with you, will improve our food system for a better life

Thank you.

HICGI News Agency will be bringing you more speeches on this ceremony.

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