"Let us endeavor to reach the frontiers of science like biotechnology, information and communication technology, short of which, Uganda will be left behind as it happened with the green revolution of the 60s and 70s." This was revealed by Uganda's Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, in his speech read for him by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja while officially opening the National Agricultural Research Organization-Makerere University (NARO-MAK) Joint Agricultural Dissemination. The conference was held from November 21-24, 2016 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala. Hon. Rugunda's remarks come at a time when Uganda is yet to pass the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill into law, to regulate development and application of modern biotechnology. Currently, researchers at NARO-Uganda's public agricultural research body, are using biotechnology to develop better crop varieties. However, these innovations cannot be enjoyed by the Ugandan public in the absence of the requisite legal framework.
The Prime Minister challenged the delegates to come up with a concise ‘Conference Declaration' for action and follow up by Government through his (Premier's) office and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Under the theme "Agricultural Research and Innovation for Socio-Economic Transformation," the Conference was attended by over 400 local, regional and international delegates from agriculture, environment and health research, regulatory agencies, academia, media, farmers' representatives, legislators, and private sector among others. Participants shared experiences and discussed a spectrum of issues pertaining to the wide-ranging agricultural research and development efforts underway within the country and internationally.
Key on the conference agenda was the role and potential of ongoing research efforts in agriculture to propel Uganda's economy to middle income status by 2020 in line with the national development plan. Through a series of presentations and exhibitions, researchers and private sector players shared fundamental findings and cutting edge innovations to address various development constraints such as national and global food insecurity and climate change. One of the key recommendations from the conference was to expedite passing of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill into law to allow famers' access to novel agricultural innovations to enable them to overcome their production constraints and ultimately raise incomes.
Group photo of NARO-MAK Conference Participants