By Mark Kawalya
The Danish government has funded an irrigation project in Uganda that will benefit more than 12,000 small and medium-scale farmers. This project, officially launched in Kampala, is named ‘Enhancing Irrigation to Improve Climate Adaptation and Sustain Smallholder Production Systems in Uganda’ and will equip farmers with the knowledge required for effective irrigation, enabling all-year-round food production.
The Danish government, through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) Green Business Partnership Program, has allocated USD 1.5 million for the three-year project. The project’s implementation will involve collaboration between key stakeholders, including the East Africa Grain Council (Uganda), Grundfos (Denmark), Akvo International (Uganda), and Access to Innovation (Denmark), with support from the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. John McNay, the East African Advisor for Access to Innovation, emphasized the project’s significance in light of the adverse effects of climate change on Ugandan farmers. He stressed that climate-smart irrigation technologies would play a vital role in mitigating crop failures caused by changing weather patterns. “In fact, farmers in Uganda are experiencing increased crop failure as a result of climate change shocks; hence, irrigation is going to play an important role going into the future, not only for the high-value crops but also for the lower-value ones,” said McNay.
The project’s focal point includes not only cereals but also high-value crops, aligning with the goal of ensuring greater profitability for farmers by tapping into readily available markets. According to Gerald Masila, the Executive Director of the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), to participate, farmers are required to be members of recognized farmers’ organizations, which will facilitate their access to the technology.
One of the prerequisites for accessing the equipment is the availability of a water source to support irrigation, Masila emphasizes. However, farmers can utilize the irrigation tools without upfront payments thanks to the off-taker arrangement. This approach takes into account equipment acquisition costs, projected yields, and established prices. If the yield falls short of covering the loan, a mechanism is in place to address such situations, underscoring EAGC’s role in the consortium.