Agriculture is an important sector in Uganda’s economy given that it employs over 60 percent of the population. The 2014 Population and Housing Census indicates that household reliance on subsistence farming rose to 69% from 68% between 2002 and 2014. The sector contributes about 21 percent to the country’s GDP and expanded by 1.3% in FY 2016/17, lower than previous years due to prolonged drought that affected many parts of the country. Commercialisation in agriculture remains low, with only about 119,000 or 2.3 per cent of the 5.2 million farming households being engaged in commercial farming by FY 2015/16.
NDPII therefore emphasizes commercialization of agriculture, to increase production and productivity along the value chains. Improving the sector’s production capacity will not only benefit the people depending on agriculture for a living but also the economy at large. Agriculture has therefore been identified as one of the growth opportunities of focus over the NDPII period. The ultimate objective of government intervention in the sector is to increase productivity so that Uganda’s growing population can obtain more output per agricultural input thus freeing more workers to be based off-farm in higher value occupations.
However the sector still faces a number of challenges. The sector’s performance in recent years in terms of production and productivity, food and nutrition security has not been satisfactory mainly due to: slow technological innovations and adoption; poor management of pests and diseases; limited access to land and agricultural finance; a weak agricultural extension system, as well as over dependency on rain-fed agriculture. All these render agriculture highly vulnerable to exogenous shocks including low prices and climatic changes, which ultimately reduce the welfare of households. NDPII highlights the need to enhance technological innovation and adoption especially among women since they constitute over 77% of the total agricultural labour force.
During the NDPII period, Government will focus on implementing a value chain approach for selected ten agro-outputs including: Cotton, Coffee, Tea, Maize, Rice, Cassava, Beans, Fish, Beef, Milk, Citrus and Bananas. This will help to create productive employment opportunities along the entire commodity value chain of input provision, production, storage, and processing and marketing. In FY 2016/17, the sector’s budget was increased by 65 %( from Shs. 343.46 billion to Shs. 823.42 billion). This was in a bid to achieve increased production and productivity, improved household food security, increased farmers’ income and increased value of exports.
Furthermore, in order to reduce reliance on rain-fed agriculture, Government completed rehabilitation of three large irrigation projects and will continue investing in the development of large and small scale irrigation schemes across the country over the medium term. This is aimed at increasing water for production to boost commercial agriculture and industrial activities. Government aims to increase cumulative storage from the current 7.8 to 55 Million cubic metres by 2020.
Three core NDPII projects are dedicated to agriculture. They include: Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP); Markets & Agriculture Trade Improvement Project (MATIP II); Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation II.
The Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) aims to raise productivity, production, and commercialization of selected agricultural commodities in specified clusters of districts across the country. The project will be piloted in five districts in five different clusters covering 30,000 farming households in the first year beginning with five crops including maize, rice, beans, cassava and coffee an later rolled out in subsequent years to all the 42 districts in 12 clusters covering 450,000 farming households. The project became active in January 2017.
The Markets & Agriculture Trade Improvement Project (MATIP II) aims to provide a link between the rural and urban markets in the country in order to expand the commodity value chain. The project is being implemented in a second phase, the first phase having been completed in FY 2015/16 under which 7 urban markets were constructed including Lira, Jinja,Mbale, Wandegeya, Hoima, Gulu and Mpanga markets. The second phase is currently ongoing under which 11 new modern markets will be constructed in Busia, Tororo, Soroti, Arua, Kasese, Mbarara, Kitgum, Masaka, Moroto, Lugazi and Entebbe districts.
The Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation II aims to improve household incomes, food security and climate resilience through development of agricultural infrastructure.the project is currently in startup pahse. It is to be implemented over a five year period in five districts where proposed irrigation schemes are located namely Nebbi, Oyam, Butaleja, Kween and Kasese.