The Minister of Agriculture, tadalafil Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja has lauded the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for its significant investment towards easing access to finance for rural farmers in Uganda.
He said that IFAD has been a reliable partner to Uganda over the years and that its model has seen many livelihoods transformed.
He was speaking on Monday at the official opening of the IFAD regional implementation workshop for IFAD funded projects in East and Southern Africa.
The four day workshop which is ongoing at Speke Resort in Munyonyo will mainly review the implementation of projects and look at ways to foster the transformation of rural economies and communities.
“IFAD is a very important partner to Uganda and Africa at large with the interest of fighting poverty and improving lives of rural communities, pills ” the Minister told the gathering of over 300 delegates from the region who participated.
“We appreciate IFAD’s flexibility and taking into consideration the realities on the ground to achieve the development objectives.”
He noted that despite the retroactive and critical forces that have attempted to sabotage some projects, IFAD has remained committed to its projects and delivered value intensive results.
At least 16 projects have been implemented in Uganda with funding from IFAD to a tune of USD 1.4 billion benefitting nearly five million households.
“Had IFAD listened to negative sentiments on the Kalangala palm oil project, it never would have taken off and Kalangala would still be among the poorest areas,” Sempijja said, adding that the island district has moved from 71st position in rankings of least levels of poverty to 10th place within 10 years.
Haruna Kasolo, the State Minister for Microfinance who also attended the workshop in the same light thanked IFAD for rolling out the PROFIRA program which has built capacity of SACCOs and community savings and credit groups. Designed in 2013, the program aims at increasing income, food security and reduced vulnerability in rural areas.
He however pointed out challenges that are frustrating rural agriculturalists among them; high cost of credit unfavorable market conditions, land degradation and lack of information.
“Affordable financial services remain a big challenge to our farmers. We are looking at irrigation, fertilizers but all this can only work if farmers can afford credit in the range of 5%,” the Minister said.
IFAD’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Sana F.K. Jatta also reiterated that projects implemented in Uganda have registered success especially in financial inclusion and poverty alleviation. He too gave mention to the case of Kalangala which he said has had a transformative impact on rural livelihoods.
However, Jatta noted that efforts to transform rural communities need to be reinforced by youth employment. “IFAD has partnered with the E.U to establish an equity financing scheme to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” he said.
Whereas it is true that African countries thrive largely on agriculture, Monday’s discussions pointed to the emerging risk of climate change which necessitates that farmers adopt innovative methods of farming.