Family farmers policy champions forum established in Uganda

Technical Officers from the Government of Uganda Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) agreed to establish a Policy Forum for family farming in Uganda. The Forum called “Family Farming Policy Champions – Uganda” was inaugurated after a five-day residential training on “Policy Cycles for Family Farming for State and Non-State Actors held from 15th to 19th November 2021 at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, Entebbe, Uganda. The training was organised by The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. Over 34 technical personnel from the MDAs, farmer organisations & farmers, and private companies participated in the training. MDAs were represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF); Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD); Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation (MoSTI); Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS); National Planning Authority (NPA); Operation Wealth Creation (OWC); National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO); District Production Officers from Mukono and Wakiso Districts. Uganda Farmers Federation (UNFFE) and Eastern and Southern Africa small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) participated as farmer organisations. Private Sector Foundation, Reco Industries, Uganda, Limited and Agape Innovations participated as private sector organisations.

Picture 1: Participants pose for a group photo with the FAO Country representatives Uganda, Mr. Antonio Querido

The training was organised to refresh the capacities of state and non-state actors in Uganda to develop, design, implement and review public policies & investments that are relevant to family farming in Uganda. The participants were also equipped with tools and competencies to address public policy issues relevant to family farming-cantered food systems to enable them lead and manage bottom-up, participatory, multi-sectoral collaboration for the development, implementation and monitoring of family farming targeted public policies in Uganda.  

Agri-food systems are complex with diverse actors and interests

While agriculture and food systems has been a major livelihood and economic activity in Uganda, the participants appreciated the complex agri-food system in which family farmers are operating. Several public and private actors from diverse sectors are involved in production, distribution, value addition, logistics, research and innovations, health, security and law enforcement. Interactions among these actors affect the family farmers differently and any relevant policies must address the systemic rather than piece mill problems. There was consensus among participants that while the food systems challenge in Uganda are immense, Uganda has great potential to feed herself and derive other non-monitory benefits that accrue from participating in the food system. Participants agreed that “food” has a higher value than just being eaten. It means life, cultural identity, health, money, security and opportunity, happiness and medicine for family farmers and make family farming more effective in supporting all these functions, all policy makers & implementers and other stakeholders in these sectors should be engaged in developing and implementing family farming policies and programmes for positive impact. The current challenges are that family farmers are not currently recognised as entities that could benefit from public services such as supply of services to government and private sector.

Picture 2: Participants in a group discussion

The resolution for the Forum

  • The policy makers resolved to train and sensitise implementers of policies that affect family farmers; organise farmers into cooperatives and associations; and coordinate the implementation of diverse policies that are related to family farming
  • The participants also agreed to improve the consultation process to incorporate real life problems at community level to enhance relevance to the diversity of local needs determined by physical environment, climate, culture, economic status, level of education etc.
  • Strengthen the process of data collection and analysis to provide evidence upon which policies are made through a comprehensive data collection, storage, retrieval and analysis system. The Parish Information Management System will be improved with support from the team of policy champions,
  • Further, the participants identified poorly functional government and non-governmental institutions at all levels as some of the major challenges hampering the success of family farming. Each institution advances self-interest rather than focusing on addressing the multi-sectoral policy problems and this will be addressed through the Forum by frequent multi-sectoral policy dialogues in coordination with the Office of the Prime Minister
  • The coordination, monitoring and evaluation of policies is weak. Centres of power and political influence in most cases does not rest with the mandated institutions resulting into duplication of efforts or institutions without the mandate taking leadership. The Forum will therefore engage academic institutions to understudy these processes and streamline implementation of family farming related policies in Uganda.

What will be the first activities of the Forum?

  • To operationalise the recommendations, the participants agreed to establish a Policy Forum and initiate discussion on identification of specific policies for which a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) process could be undertaken
  • The Forum will be coordinate by the Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in partnership with the FAO and RUFORUM Secretariat
  • The Forum will organise regular refresher trainings and capacity development for policy development and implementation for public sector in partnership with other actors
  • Recognising the cross-cutting nature of policy issues in family farming, the Forum with bring on board other Ministries/Departments and partners including academia to support data and knowledge generation to guide policy making and implementation. MDAs identified to be brought on board include; Office of the Prime Minister for M&E of policies, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development; Cabinet Secretariat; Ministry of Water and Environment; Ministry of Local Government; Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives; Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development; Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs; Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Ministry of Health; Uganda National Bureau of Standards; Uganda Investment Authority; Dairy Development Authority (DDA); National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS); National Forestry Authority (NFA); Bank of Uganda especially the Agricultural Credit Facility; and  National Information Technology Authority (NITA).

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