United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

FAO-China South-South Cooperation Project in Uganda – Foxtail and Proso millet production to improve food and nutrition security


    Although Uganda is endowed with high agricultural potential, the largely subsistence-based agricultural sector in the country is characterized by low productivity and remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Rainstorms, heat waves, droughts, and floods have adverse effects on the agricultural livelihoods, as well as food and nutrition security of over 70 percent of its population. There is also increased pressure on the agribusiness sector to generate employment opportunities in rural areas. Through the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Project (Phases I and II) technical assistance is provided by China to improve production and productivity of agriculture in Uganda.


    Phase I (2012 to 2014) and Phase II (2015 to 2018) of the project aimed at solving agricultural constraints including low levels of production, productivity and profitability in crop, horticulture, livestock and aquaculture production, as well as introducing new technologies, including new varieties renewable energy, agro machinery and improved water harvesting and irrigation methods. The deployment of SSC cooperants to provide on-site trainings helped improve the technologies used to produce foxtail millet, cherry tomatoes, maize, rice and table grapes, and to raise fish, goats, pigs and sheep introduced from China. Millet (finger millet variety) is a staple cereal crop in Uganda. The project introduced foxtail and proso millet varieties, which feature shorter maturity periods, greater yields and improved nutritional value.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    The project activities mainly targeted SDG 1, 2 and 17 . The project’s impacts in these areas are notable - beneficiary interviews revealed significant improvements in income, living conditions, food security and nutrition. The interviews also highlighted the effects of the project in other key areas, including SDG 4, 5, 7, 8,10, 12 and 13. For example, many participants used their increased incomes to cover school fees for their children. The project directly targeted female farmers, with several women noting increased income, as well as improved household food and nutrition security.

    Implementation methodologies

    SSC cooperants (agricultural experts and technicians) were fielded to Uganda under the two phases of the project through the coordination of FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of Uganda. Over the course of the project, the cooperants and local Ugandan counterpart staff provided on-site training and guidance to farmers to cultivate the new varieties. The foxtail and proso millet varieties were introduced to smallholder farmers in several districts in Uganda, with the support of the SSC cooperant team, the FAO Representation in Uganda and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of Uganda. Technical trainings were conducted to improve national millet production. Within the demonstration fields and several participating smallholder farms, foxtail and proso millet seeds were introduced in place of local finger millet varieties. The comparative advantages of the new varieties of millet, as described below, have contributed to improvement of national and household food and nutrition security and the achievement of SDGs in Uganda. Through the project, many participants found new employment opportunities, increased their income, improved the conditions of their employment, or were able to employ others in their community. In particular, female farmers who participated in the project highlighted that they were able to increase production, grow the market for their products and their businesses, and purchase resources to expand their farms and businesses. Other female farmers emphasized that the training supported them to become more active decision makers in their family.


    During the course of the project and in subsequent interviews, the participating farmers reported that cultivating foxtail and proso millet has several advantages over finger millet, including: - Shorter maturity period (74-75 days for foxtail and proso millet, compared to 90 days for the finger millet); - Higher yields (1.5x to 3x larger yields for foxtail/proso millet, compared to finger millet. 150-300 kg per acre for proso and foxtail millet respectively, compared to 100 kg for finger millet) - Less seeds/inputs needed for planting (as 5 kg per acre for both foxtail and proso millet as compared to 20- 25 kg fr finger millet); - Greater drought resistance; - Improved taste, color and texture compared to finger millet, providing the opportunity to process the millet into a greater number of food products - High market demand for the foxtail millet - Better nutritional content, supporting household level food security and nutrition - Higher income from increased yields and crop quality

    Factors and Constraints

    The SSC demonstration and technical assistance related to foxtail/proso millet cultivation attracted a great deal of local interest from local farmers’ organizations and smallholder farmers, given the varieties’ comparative advantages over finger millet. The combination of support from FAO, deep engagement from the Governments of Uganda and China, as well as the active participation of local partners and smallholder farmers contributed to the success of this project.

    Sustainability and replicability

    Due to demand from participating farmers, engaged communities, and the Government of Uganda, a forthcoming Phase III of the Project seeks to further advance appropriate and effective agricultural technologies and varieties to support food and nutrition security in the Republic of Uganda. Phase III of the project will be supported by a contribution rom the FAO-China SSC Trust Fund as well as the establishment of a Unilateral Trust Fund from the Government of Uganda. Phase III of the project will look to scale up the positive results achieved in the first two phases of the project, as well as address new challenges facing the agricultural sector in Uganda, particularly those arising from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    COVID-19 Impact

    The forthcoming Phase III of the Project, which is currently under development, will specifically address COVID-19 response and recovery.

    Contact Name
    Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO)
    Geographical coverage

    National project - Republic of Uganda

    01 September 2012 (start date)
    31 December 2018 (date of completion)
    More information
    Contact Information

    Anping, Director, South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division