25 April 2013

Uganda Government to Set Up Climate Change Unit

The government has set up a climate change unit to improve farmer incomes through monitoring weather patterns and climate change variations.

The climate change unit will be set up at the ministry of water and environment in August this year. The unit is part of initiatives to achieve the Uganda Vision 2040 through the promotion of exports.

"I appeal to the government for support by implementing the research results and proposals of the project," said Dr. Fredrick Bagamba a senior Makerere University lecturer and researcher for the project.

He made the comments during a stakeholders meeting at Mosa Courts Apartments in Kampala under the theme "Building the Climate Resilience of the Agriculture Value Chains in Uganda through Stakeholder Dialogues."

The unit will inform farmers of pertinent weather forecasts for their planting schedules. Initially, the unit will provide a platform for dialogue on climate risk management among actors in the coffee value chain-from, from producers to exporters.

Coffee is Uganda's chief cash crop with nearly 500,000 farmers. The Uganda Coffee Development Authority indicates that Uganda exported 3.15 million bags of coffee worth $449 m (sh1.2 trillion) in the coffee year 2010/11 up from $283.9m (sh738b) a year before.

This project is designed to complement the ongoing efforts to develop the coffee industry and to support the mainstreaming of climate risks in the coffee value chain.

Bagamba pointed out that the project also aims to increase awareness about climate change. He added that meteorological stations across the country will be refurbished to provide reliable data.

The Climate Change unit will have representatives from the ministry of agriculture, the ministry of trade, Makerere University and the International Institute for Sustainable Developments (IISD).

Julius Onen said in a speech read by Elizabeth Tamale, the assistant commissioner ministry of trade that climate change poses a wide range of risks to infrastructure, health, agriculture, and trade as well as affecting livelihoods.

He added that understanding and analyzing the threats and impacts of climate change is a multi-sector challenge which calls for concerted efforts of not only the environment sector but also the trade sector.

"Value chain development and management remains a key tool to facilitate the growth of agricultural commodities,

"This is one of the 13 thematic areas for intervention of the National Trade Sector Development Plan 2008/9 - 2012/13 as well as a key objective of the Ministry of Agriculture's Development and Sector Investment Plan (DSIP) 2010/11-2014/15," Onen explained.

He further argued that the formation of platforms that enable multi-sectoral engagement with the trade ministry will hasten economic development in Uganda.

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