Uganda: China Skilling Uganda’s Agricultural Technicians to Boost Production

About 21 km north of the Ugandan capital Kampala, in the quiet environs of Makerere University Agricultural Research institute, a Chinese instructor demonstrates how to use Chinese farming technology to boost production.

His students, agricultural technicians drawn from different parts of the east African country carefully listen and watch every move with a keen eye.

The over 30 technicians are attending a one month Chinese funded training course on cultivation techniques. The participants are focusing on increasing the production of rice and millet which are key cereals in ensuring food security in Uganda.

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda's economy contributing about 25 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, according to official figures.

Over 60 percent of the country's total population of 34 million people derives its livelihood from agriculture.

Speaking at the launch of the 30-day training program earlier this week, Ouyang Daobin, Economic Counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Uganda said increasing agricultural production using modern and affordable technology is key in fast tracking Uganda's economic development.

"China and Uganda are agricultural countries and share a lot of similarities. After 30 years of opening up, China has accumulated knowledge and technologies in the agriculture sector. That is why we are here to share our experience," he said.

Zakayo Muyaka, Commissioner for agriculture extension and skills management at the ministry of agriculture said the government is now focusing on skilling extension officers to boost production.

"We play a very big role because what we do aims to increase production and productivity. Helping farmers increase their yields in a season is very important," he said.

After acquiring skills from the Chinese experts, the technicians are expected to go back to the rural areas to share the knowledge in a bid to boost production.

Wu Zhiping, an agribusiness expert and lead instructor of the training program, told Xinhua in an interview that the training will be based on field work. The participants will be trained in use of hybrid seeds, cultivation techniques and irrigation among others.

He said Chinese hybrid rice seeds and fox-tail millet have been introduced in Uganda and are doing well.

From one hectare of land, the yield of Chinese rice is three times more than the local breed. Similarly, the yield of fox-tail millet is two times more than the local breed, finger millet.

The training program is a pilot of skilling African agricultural technicians in their home countries instead of flying them to China as has been the case.

According to the Chinese embassy here the money spent on transport costs to China would instead be channeled to training more technicians home.

Source: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

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