Displaced Ugandans Get Chance at Rice Farming

KAMPALA, Uganda, Oct. 3 (UPI) — A rice-farming program will allow 1.5 million Ugandans to return home from displaced persons camps and learn agrarian skills, U.N. officials said.

The new system, which focuses on fostering food security and poverty-reduction, allows young families a chance to improve their conditions after living in makeshift housing in the camps for more than 20 years, the United Nations said in a release Friday.

The measure comes on the heels of the 2006 peace process between the Ugandan national government and the Lord’s Resistance Army group of rebels.

The U.N.-backed Food and Agriculture Organization’s cultivation strategy for Uganda is supported by $1.5 million in Japanese funding over two years, the United Nations said.

“The different (rice) varieties offer a number of advantages: they grow well on the uplands and are resistant to drought, their yield is 30 per cent higher than that of local varieties, and they produce a long grain rice with good flavour and high nutritional content which matures in three months or less when the rains are regular,” Percy Misika, the U.N.-backed group’s representative in Kampala, Uganda, said.

“It takes passion, motivation and perfectionism to offer effective training for the farmers, especially the young ones who have never known anything except the precarious life of the camps,” New Rice for Africa national project manager Emmanuel Iyamuremye Iyibingira said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates more than 2,160 farmers will be trained in New Rice for Africa’s farming technology, and that 72 schools will be opened in the area.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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