Evidence based policy action: A myth or a possibility?
May 4th, 2016 / By Pamela Pali.
The Policy Action for Sustainable Intensification of Ugandan Cropping systems (PASIC) project has successfully proved that evidence-based policy making is possible by influencing the development of agricultural policies at the district level in Uganda.
The project conducted and shared the results of various studies on rice and potato production and marketing in six districts in Uganda as part of efforts to identify gaps in their value chains and to spur investment in the two important crops in the country.
Rice and potato are good examples of crops that can stimulate crop intensification as their high demand which far outstrips the supply both at the national and regional level, but these crops are also grown in areas where land is scarce and fragmented. In addition, they are sometimes grown in the wetlands which are government owned and are often marked by conflicting laws.
Taking a systems approach to policy action, the PASIC studies included agronomic diagnostic, socio economic household surveys, and analysis of value chains, and policies and institutions. From the study, access to quality seed for potato was a major challenge in south western Uganda. It was found out that, although the farmers were growing improved varieties, they seldom use good quality seeds because they recycle their own seeds up to more than four times. It was also found out that, the potato varieties grown by the farmers were not suited for the chipped potato industry hence the fast food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Java House and Café Javas resorted to importation of frozen potato chips.
In the rice sector, the yields were found to be low due to lack of application of good agronomic practices. This in turn leads to production levels that cannot meet the demand required for milling machines to operate at required capacity.
Women Rice Farmers Listing Barriers of Rice Intensification during a feedback workshops.
The findings were shared at feedback workshops in south-western Uganda for potato and eastern Uganda for lowland rice production. They brought together actors along the value chains of the two crops including farmers, and the district leadership.
In Districts (of Kanungu, Kabale, Kisoro, Tororo ,Bugiri and Butaleja) where PASIC research has been conducted, interventions and action points were developed to integrate the study findings into their five- year district development plans. These may be included in the country’s agricultural investment plans called the Agricultural Sector Strategic Plan for 2015/16-2019/20. The plans have been presented to the respective district councils by MAAIF staff – District Production Officers, for resolutions to be passed, allowing them to integrate these interventions in their action plans. Currently, three of the six districts (Kanungu, Kabale and Butaleja) have approved their integration.
A key intervention proposed in the plans included lobbying the Government of Uganda to include potato as a priority crop where government investment may be higher, rather than a strategic crop. During a dialogue with MAAIF the key proposals that were made by the district leadership and value chain actors were shared. The Director Crop Resources – MAAIF- Mr. Okaasai Opolot informed participants of the MAAIF level feedback meeting that although potato may not be a national priority, it can be considered as one in the districts, counties and sub counties where the crop is grown.