The World Food Programme has spent a total of $147m in the last three years in purchasing food rations in Uganda. Last year, the UN agency announced Uganda as a major hub for purchasing food.
Mr El-Khidir Daloum, WFP Country Director said of the 198,000 metric tonnes they bought last year, only a small percentage was bought from small-holder farmer groups. The rest was bought from local traders. He said they have the capacity to buy more from Uganda, adding that farmers should improve on their post-harvest handling.
"WFP is able to buy up to 200,000 metric tons of food if Ugandan farmers and traders can provide quality grain. Standards, quality and policy challenges are stifling smallholders and keeping them in stagnation. WFP is committed to consulting and being accountable to its partners on all levels. That is why we called for these meeting this week," he said.
He called for improved coordination to ensure small scale farmers get all the support they need from the various actors in Agriculture.
The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry of Fisheries, Mr Vincent Ssempijja commended WFP for buying 198,000 metric tons of food in Uganda, valued at US$55 million in 2018. This brings the total amount of food that WFP bought in Uganda in last three years to more than 425,000 metric tons worth US$147 million.
He called WFP "great allies and partners" and "one of the engines in Uganda's agricultural sector". He said because of WFP's support in Karamoja, the region is now able to produce high quality grain.
"WFP discussed its strategic plan with the Government. The plan rhymes with the agricultural sector strategic plan. We move together with WFP."
Mr Ssempijja also said as Uganda fights food loss and aflatoxins, the country is also focusing on improving standards of produce, organizing farmers into conscious productive groups to strengthen their marketing capacity as well as enabling community storage and drying.
The CAO, Gulu district, Mr Milson Kato commended WFP's new emphasis on a deeper engagement and building the capacity of local governments under its plan.
"Local governments being nearer to the people and understanding their problems better means they are in a better position to implement Government programmes than the central governments. Building their capacity means they can deliver better, having the feeling of the local people," he said
Patrick Musoke, Deputy Director, Strategy and Business Development, Kampala City Council Authority said the approach used by WFP toward supporting the entire food value chain is a positive trend.
He also commended WFP for investing in research and generating evidence, saying "this informs policy and programmes including of Government agencies. Lacking evidence, Musoke said, has often led to reactionary, uninformed public investments.
WFP is working with KCCA to address rising rates of urban malnutrition, based on findings of the first ever comprehensive food security and vulnerability assessment in Kampala.
Maureen Bakunzi, Acting Commissioner Strategic Coordination and Implementation in OPM urged all partners in school feeding and education to examine why a national school feeding policy has not been realized, and to work to its finalization.
She mentioned the need for the Government, WFP and others to address high rates of anaemia and poor diets in general.