After decades of internal strife, Uganda has experienced years of relative political stability and economic growth. Agriculture has played an important role in the East African nation's revival, and with drought and famine gripping many areas of the nearby Horn of Africa, the United States is working with the Ugandan government and others there to improve farm productivity and help make the Horn food sufficient.
Uganda is one of five priority nations taking part in the Feed the Future program, a new initiative to boost food security and economic development in the developing world. In Uganda, the U.S. Agency for International Development is focusing on three crops -– maize, beans and coffee – and working with local agriculture officials to develop new ways to process, store, transport and market the commodities. Greater availability of Ugandan food products would allow the World Food Program and others providing emergency aid to famine victims in the Horn to buy supplies fresh and locally rather than import them from long distances. Long term, it is hoped that the effort will help build a greater East African agricultural trade that could prevent famines in the future.
David Eckerson is USAID's Uganda Mission Director, stationed in the capital, Kampala:
"Uganda plays a critical role because it is the breadbasket of East Africa. It's got two growing seasons. Anything you put in the ground grows. And the issue is just trying to make the whole system more efficient and effective, and moving from sort of subsistence farming to more commercial farming or higher enterprise farming."
American development aid to Uganda totaled $526 million last year. Much of the money went to support programs combating HIV/AIDS and malaria, and for family planning and other health services. But the U.S. also is committed to helping transform and grow the nation's important agricultural sector, for the benefit of both the Ugandan people and the entire region.