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Rice has increasingly become a staple food in Uganda. However, the largest share of the rice consumed is imported; but efforts are underway to increase the amount of rice produced locally to meet demand. Indeed, estimates from the 2012/13 Uganda National Household Survey show that at least 30 percent of households consume rice in Uganda with the rate increasing to one out of every two households in urban areas. Uganda’s demand for rice consumption far exceeds the supply of locally cultivated rice. Annual imports of cereals (dominated by rice) increased from US$ 106 million in 2003 to US$ 247 million by 2013. However, the continued importation of rice leads to foreign exchange outflow, which negatively affect Uganda’s trade balance. Past studies suggest that the poor performance of the agricultural sector in Uganda is largely due to persistence of poor farming practices and low technology adoption in the form of improved seeds and fertilizer application. For the case of rice, farmers have been found to practice poor farming methods such as seed broadcasting, inefficient water usage with no use of bands and canals, poor spacing and poor post-harvest handling.

Given the above, in 2008 the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) intervened to address the impact of rice shortage on the economy and households by providing training, to lowland rice farmers in Eastern Uganda, on better farming practices and the use of resilient and high yielding rice varieties such as NERICA.

Specifically, JICA provided the training to farmers in Eastern region for improving the productivity in lowland rice production under Sustainable Irrigated Agricultural development (SIAD) project from 2008 to 2009. Researchers conducted a household survey in 4 districts where SIAD project provided training in October 2009 after the training was given in Bugiri and Mayuge and before the training was provided in Pallisa and Bukedea. In each project site, 75 rice growing households were randomly selected. The baseline survey measured the impact of the training on adoption of cultivation practices and rice yields just after the training.

In October 2015, Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) and JICA will undertake a follow up survey in Bugiri, Mayuge, Pallisa and Bukedea districts to examine the impact of JICA’s technical assistance on the adoption of improved agronomic practices as well as on rice yield 5 years after the training. The data collected will support the impact evaluation of three main issues: (i) the long term impact of training interventions on agriculture performance; (ii) the effect of agriculture extension on better farming practices; and (iii) impact of land tenure, ethnic diversity and internal migrations on farmer groups, and hence adoption of better farming practices. The evidence generated, could inform the basis for scaling up interventions to improve rice production and productivity in sub-Sahara Africa.

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