Beneficiaries call for renewal of IsDB funded NARO project

Beneficiaries call for renewal of IsDB funded NARO project

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi

ARUA. The beneficiaries of a project funded by Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in the West Nile sub-region have called for its renewal.

The call was made during the closure of the 3-year project dubbed “Enhancing production and utilization of energy and micronutrient rich crop varieties among refugees and host communities in West Nile region of Uganda.’’

Ejua-stresses-a-point-during-the-end-of-project-workshop-on-Wednesday.-Photo-by-Andrew-Cohen-Amvesi

The project which was implemented by National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) Abi Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (ZARDI) targeted refugees and host communities in the West Nile sub-region.

According to Clement Peace Ejua, a research officer at Abi ZARDI who doubles as the program leader for technology promotion and outreach, the project was conceived in 2019 and materialized in 2020.

“A call was made and NARO Abi ZARDI realized that the call was within their mandate and we responded with a proposal and our proposal was to a tune of USD173,000 (about Shs650m). To that effect, what finally got approved was USD100,000 (about Shs370m) for the project that was to run for a period of 3 years. With our local contribution from Abi, we were able to contribute USD43,000 (about Shs160m). So, if you put the two together, we are talking about USD143,000 (about Shs540m) project value for the period of 3 years,” Ejua said during the end of IsDB project workshop at NARO Abi ZARDI on Wednesday.

“This project targeted both the nationals and the refugees, but in targeting this project, we are looking at the sustainable development goal on addressing zero hunger, health and wellbeing agenda especially in the refugee hosting region. So, we were able to zero down to some of the key common crops that we have been growing in the region that have attributes of energy and micronutrient contents,” Ejua explained.

He said the project largely targeted three commodities which are; beans, maize and cassava.

“One of the key commodities promoted under the project was beans. So, when we talk about beans, the micronutrient rich beans we promoted included NARO Bean 1, NARO Bean 2 and NABE 16. The second commodity that the project targeted was maize. The maize we targeted was Longe 5 and Longe 5D. Then the third commodity we targeted was cassava. The cassava we promoted under this project was NARO CAS 1 and NASE 19,” Ejua remarked.

He said the mode of the project was both on station and on farm level of production. Ejua said the groups they started with include groups in Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Koboko, Maracha, Pakwach, Nebbi, Zombo and Arua districts.

He observed that the key challenge the project came to address was the limited access to quality seeds of energy and micronutrient rich crop varieties to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition among refugees and host communities in the West Nile region.

“We registered a very significant demand for these specific nutrient rich crop varieties with Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) which were operating in refugee hosting districts. So, at impact level, the self-impact assessment we made rated this project at satisfactory,” Ejua said.

Francisco Onoba, the chairperson of Angal producers’ Cooperative Society Limited in Nebbi district appreciated NARO Abi ZARDI for the support they received through the project.

“For us we were under seed multiplication, specifically, we started with cassava and then from cassava, we also received maize, beans and rice which all did well. But now that the project has ended, my farmers are asking how they are going to go forward. Perhaps if there is a window for you to talk to IsDB and request them to continue extending the project by sending more funds, it will be good for us. This is the request from our farmers so as to support them further,” Onoba appealed.

Christine Ayikoru, the chairperson of Cassava and Allied Crops Cooperative Society thanked IsDB for funding the project which she said has improved food security in the community as well as putting money in the pockets of farmers.

“As chairperson of Cassava and Allied Crops Cooperative Society, we have realized that farmers now have hope of better life to come and it will be through such projects that farmers are being engaged, trained and given enough knowledge to make sure that in the near future people will have a very good life and improvement in agriculture. So, I urge IsDB to consider renewing this project for another period of time,” Candiru said.

Meanwhile Samu Jabs Killopas, the operations manager of Inter Link – Inc, a cassava processing factory undergoing construction at Enjeva along Arua-Pakwach road in Ajia sub-county, Arua district said they have partnered with NARO Abi ZARDI to support farmers in the West Nile region through such projects undertaken by the research institute.

In his closing remarks, Charles Ichogor, the Arua Resident City Commissioner (RCC) remained optimistic that another similar project will come.

“It is my prayer that one day, I’m very confident, another similar project is going to come. I would like to ask the experts at Abi ZARDI to use the gaps identified in this project, to use the lessons learnt in this project to formulate another project for further sustainability of this project. And you have the capacity to do that, and that will be my pride,” Ichogor said.

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