3 Questions with Patrick Rader on Climate-Smart Agriculture

Patrick Rader leads the Feed the Future Uganda Commodity Production and Marketing Activity (CPM), which harnesses market forces and uses innovative methods to increase the productivity of Ugandan families. CPM reduces poverty and under-nutrition by increasing the quantity and quality of coffee, maize, and beans that rural families are able to produce and sell.

Q. According to the World Bank, climate change could push more than 100 million people back into poverty over the next 15 years, primarily through its impact on agriculture. How can we help farmers plan for climate shocks in the long term? 

A. We’re doing a number of things here in Uganda that could be replicated or are already being implemented in other countries. One activity with potential, which CPM and the USAID Uganda Value Chain Project are collaborating on, is the creation of “climate change champions.” Together, we are equipping local community leaders with the knowledge and skills to mitigate climate change. 

While it only began several months ago, we're already seeing our champions in action. Alvin Otto, from Oyam District, has educated over 100 people and even planted over 500 trees. Since smart phones are a rapidly-growing way to deliver services in Uganda, he established a virtual climate change extension service on Whatsapp that already has over 100 members. 

At the same time, we are helping to protect farmers by promoting crop insurance with companies like UAP and Jubilee. This is in conjunction with a strong network of village agents, which provide extension services to farmers and buy the maize, beans and coffee their families produce. 

At the national level, we are working in partnership with the Feed the Future Uganda Enabling Environment for Agriculture Activity to propose actions that the government could take in the next six months to allow the insurance industry to reach small farmers with affordable crop insurance. We work as part of a small, formal team of public and private-sector representatives, established by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Policy and Economic Development.

Q. The effects of climate change vary in different ecosystems. In Uganda, how is climate change impacting farmers? 

A. In Uganda, which has two season, it has affected crop seasonality. Previously, there was enough time between seasons for a family to dry their maize. But with climate change, farmers are barely getting maize harvested and dried before the next season’s rains come. 

This is reducing the quality of the maize: It’s often difficult, if not impossible, for a typical family to dry their crop well enough to fetch the best price. Also, maize that is not dried properly is a breeding ground for aflatoxin, a carcinogenic toxin that can seriously jeopardize Ugandans’ health and has even killed in other countries. 

We are working with value chain actors to offer services to farmers that are climate-smart, such as mobile dryers of 1-2 ton capacity and mobile shellers. These technologies assist farmers to harvest and dry properly and quickly before the rains of the next season begin.  

Q. When it comes to climate-smart agriculture, what’s the most promising technique or technology that’s already available to help farmers adapt?  

A. There are a number of new and existing technologies available in Uganda. In the case of mobile dryers, CPM is encouraging their use as a proven technology in the maize and bean value chains.  The key is to make them affordable, so that farmers can pay for a drying technique that is largely unaffected by the weather.  

For example, it takes about 14 days to dry 1.6 tons of maize using the conventional method: spreading it on the ground or a tarp and drying it in the sun. This method is always interrupted by rain, which leads to damaged grain, higher levels of aflatoxin, and spoiling. With a mobile dryer that can be brought to a farmer’s field, it takes 3 hours to dry the same amount of maize to below the recommended 13.5 percent moisture content. This saves time, increases quality, and reduces post-harvest losses. 

When we work with traders to introduce this service down their supply chain, it also helps them meet market demand for good-quality maize. This strengthens their relationships with village agents and farmers, who are paid more for a quality product.  

This technology can be used in any country that faces similar challenges with rains. In Uganda a mobile dryer costs about $4,000, so it’s important to make the machine affordable and encourage those close to smallholders to buy them and offer the service.

Emily Whitfield, who interviewed Patrick Rader, is an associate in the Strategic Communications and Outreach Department at Chemonics. "3 Questions” is a blog series offering quick takes from development experts on issues that matter.

Leave a Comment

Farmers Around the World Speak Out on the Sustainable Development Goals

When Halima Naiga was seven, she was told she had to leave school. Why? Because her parents did not want to waste money educating girls.  When incomes are low, as they are in the rural area of Uganda where Halima is from, education for girls is one of the first things to be cut in the household when money is scarce. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were officially adopted last week, have inclusive education (Goal 4) and the empowerment of women (Goal 5) as two key areas for...

Read More »

Know Your SDGs: Your Guide to What the U.N. Is Doing This Weekend

Today, the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit opens in New York. More than 150 world leaders are expected to gather there to adopt the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious document meant to define the world’s development agenda for the next 15 years. With 17 goals and 169 individual targets, the SDGs are more numerous and complex than their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in 2000. But they are hugely important, both individually and...

Read More »

Know Your SDGs: The Role of Sustainable Agriculture in Ending Hunger and Achieving Food Security

By Wynne Mancini and Justin Kosoris September marks a key step in global development’s future. U.N. member states will convene the Sustainable Development Summit  this September to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a set of 17 newly proposed goals to guide the global development community in improving the lives of the poor and eradicating poverty. The SDGs expand on and refine the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight guidelines adopted in 2000 to reduce extreme...

Read More »

Celebrating Nigeria's Food and Agriculture Markets

This post was originally published by the Global Harvest Initiative, and is cross-posted with permission. Nigeria has a powerful potential for productive agriculture with linkages to growing consumer demand. Living in Abuja and working in the field of agriculture, I witness this potential of agriculture to help improve the lives of farmers, not only in Nigeria but throughout the West African region. Improving lives of poor, rural farmers is an important part of a peacebuilding strategy to...

Read More »

A Better Life

This post was original published on UN Women's EmpowerWomen.org site, and is cross-posted with permission. I love being independent. For me, economic empowerment means the ability to rely on oneself, not to be too reliant on one’s husband, and to contribute towards household expenses such as bills, school fees, and fuel. As a woman, I am driven by two things: my husband as my biggest supporter and the motivation to have a better life than my mother. My mother has been a huge influence in my life...

Read More »

In Focus: Using Greenhouses to Grow Incomes in Haiti

This week, Chemonics’ Mario Kerby presented at the Harvest the Future International Symposium about our work helping smallholder farmers in Haiti increase their incomes through the use of greenhouses. Harvest the Future is an annual gathering for experts to share and discuss the latest advancements and initiatives in small-scale, climate-smart agriculture. From 2009 to 2014, the USAID Feed the Future West/ WINNER project installed more than 400 greenhouses on Haïtian hillsides. By using...

Read More »

In Focus: Bosnia Farmers' Market Showcases Samples and Success

Last week, Bosnia’s Fostering Agricultural Markets Activity (FARMA) project held its final event—a farmers' market in Sarajevo that showcased the wares and accomplishments of its participating producer organizations. Attendees could sample and purchase a wide variety of fresh and homemade products, including berries, jams, cheeses, and soaps. The event also featured videos highlighting the farmers’ successes. Bosnia FARMA began in 2009, with the aim of expanding production, processing, sales,...

Read More »

3 Questions with Aliyu Samaila on Improving Agriculture

Aliyu Samaila is the Director of Agricultural Productivity for the Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites II (MARKETS II) project in Nigeria. The project enhances agricultural productivity and incomes by building farmers’ capacity to maximize yields and respond to market demands. Q. What is new or different about what this project is doing that could have implications for other agriculture initiatives? A. What’s different about this project is the involvement of the...

Read More »

Chasing the $42-Per-Farmer Dream: How Youth Are Making Money With ICT in Agriculture

Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 78 percent of its population below the age of 30. Though the country also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, many of Uganda’s young adults have limited interest in pursuing careers in agriculture because they see it as a subsistence livelihood, or simply lack the agribusiness skills, finance and market awareness to make agriculture profitable. Through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future...

Read More »

Digging Into DC Ag Week

Interested in agriculture, technology, or development? Live in the DC area? You’re in luck. Today kicks off International Agriculture Week—or “DC Ag Week”—a week full of international agricultural development conferences and events held in the nation’s capital. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on the agenda: June 1-2: Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD) 51st Annual Conference AIARD is an association of U.S.- and internationally-based members who work in global...

Read More »

This Year at Cracking the Nut: Increasing Investment in Agriculture

Within a climate of uncertain global markets, development funding from many donors has increasingly been on the chopping block. The added dimension of the urgent need to adapt to climate change means that agriculture-focused poverty solutions are increasingly more complex. However, new forms of financing, through both partner country institutions and directly from newer social impact funds are breathing new life into agricultural markets that were once considered investment taboos. Focusing on...

Read More »

5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake: Is Haiti Better Off?

Off one plane came firemen from Miami. Off another, volunteers from France. The stream of aid workers and supplies seemed endless as they flooded the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, where I had come to evacuate some consultants who had worked with the USAID watershed management project I was leading in my native country of Haiti. It was January 14, 2010, only two days after the 7.0 Mw earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It is hard to describe the nightmare of...

Read More »

What We Are Reading: Eradicating Poverty

A commitment to doing better and more effective development goes hand in hand with a commitment to continual learning. In that spirit, we are launching a new blog post series, “What We Are Reading,” to share the books, academic papers, web tools, and other resources our technical experts have found useful in recent months. In honor of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is Friday, October 17, we have chosen three books with very different takes on the causes and cures for...

Read More »

Resolving the Tension between Agricultural Growth and Nutrition

Below is an excerpt from an essay that appeared in the 2014 Frontiers in Development books, themed around ending extreme poverty. The essay, by Chemonics’ Neal Donahue and Ilisa Gertner, posits that there is often an underlying tension between the “seemingly complementary goals” of agricultural growth and increased production and consumption of nutritious food. Development programs must be designed to increase farmers’ incomes and the demand and supply of nutritious food.  When it comes to...

Read More »