kutesaMoving through the village of Bidin in Nwoya district I observe the well-tended green rice fields at different stages of growth. Some of the rice gardens are being weeded, while others appear to have almost mature rice ready for harvesting. I point out to Mr. Opio, a rice grower in Bidin, how much of the good harvest he will have this season. He answers back saying that this year they were lucky. But the story was different last year and two years back because the area was hit by a drought destroying much of the rice crop. The impacts of drought and other climatic hazards have become a common reality in today’s Uganda and the agricultural world.

Agricultural practitioners’ efforts have moved beyond just understanding the nature of the impacts to designing mitigation and adaptation actions such as the use of new agricultural technologies, knowledge and practices. Similar efforts have also been picked up by governments whereby their planning and policies are consistently embracing the need to adapt to climate risk not only in agriculture and natural resource management but also in other sectors such as trade and infrastructures. The fact of the matter is that climate impacts and risks cause enormous costs. For Uganda the economic loss associated with climate hazards, especially flood and droughts is very high. So is the situation in the rest of Africa. In 2013 the World Bank estimated that developing countries needed between 70-100 billion USD to meet the current and future adaptation needs by 2050. Mobilizing such resources will be a huge task for developing countries.

New ideologies are beginning to emerge that the private sector can play a huge role in investing in climate change adaptation. In Uganda, the private sector is the largest investor in agriculture, be it farming, post-harvest handling, processing and marketing. This offers private sector actors an incentive to invest in climate change. The challenge is that climate change is perceived as a public problem and that private sector agents will only invest in areas that minimize their own risk as well that of the public. Furthermore most of those involved in agriculture are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which have limited resources to identify affordable and workable options to enable management of climate risks. In addition they lack information of maximizing returns from climate friendly interventions.

The Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) and the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) are undertaking research on “Private Sector Investment in a Changing Climate: Resilient Rice Value Chain Development in Uganda. e. The aim of this project is to find climate risk management options in which domestic private sector actors can invest to promote stronger rice value chain operations. The project focuses on rice because of the increasing investments in production and trading on the domestic and regional markets. In addition it is also increasingly being consumed by households in the country. Impacts of climate change can, threaten the investments of smallholder farmers and other SMEs along the chain. Options identified are also meant to support the National Rice Development Strategy which aims to improve household food security and incomes. The strategy suggests this can be achieved through expanded rice production, processing and value-addition for sufficient quality rice that meets domestic consumption needs and surplus for export.

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