The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today it will begin providing $2 million worth of seeds, tools and training for nearly 100,000 displaced and drought-affected families in Uganda to help put them on the road to self-sufficiency in a country ravaged by nearly two decades of war. The initiative is designed to reach 94,000 vulnerable households in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in northern Uganda. With the conflict there now in its 19th year, large numbers of Ugandans remain displaced and in desperate need, with an estimated 1.4 million living in IDP camps. “These families are now almost entirely dependent on food aid,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Emergency Coordinator for Uganda. “This assistance will allow them to improve their self-sufficiency and provide some income.” The seeds and tools are currently under procurement, from local suppliers, where possible, for distribution in July, in time for the second rainy season in July and August. The FAO project will also focus on displaced and drought-affected families with safe access to land, with particular attention given to women- and child-headed households, the elderly and families affected by HIV/AIDS. Many of the displaced have access to small plots of arable land near the camps and sometimes back in their villages, when security allows. Farmers will be trained and demonstration plots will be set up in the camps where people can gather for further hands-on training, FAO said. “Short-cycle crops, such as vegetables, and fast-growing staple or high-value crops, can help produce the micronutrient supplements and increase the cash income that these vulnerable populations need,” said Mr. Peterschmitt. FAO, in collaboration with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), is also thinking about the next generation of farmers. Some of the seeds will be used to set up school gardens to expose children to vegetable production at an early age and complement WFP’s school feeding programmes in the camps. Each household will receive around 10 to 15 kilograms of seeds depending on the land available around the camp or the proximity of their field of origin. The kits will include a hoe along with improved crop and vegetable varieties specifically adapted to the agro-climatic conditions and market trends of each of the targeted areas. Whenever possible, the seeds will be distributed together with WFP food aid distributions to ensure that they are planted rather than eaten.

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