Promotion of conventional farming in Uganda may affect small holder farmers’ access to local and international markets due to the health effects associated with the farming system.
Farmers are now agitating for organic farming where crops can be produced using organically produced manures. They say this will save them money and also open their market opportunities to their produces both locally to internationally market where the demand for organically produced foods is high.
The farmers said this during the first National Agro ecology Actors symposium that took place in Kampala recently. The meeting was spearheaded by Participatory Ecology Land Use Management (PELUM) in partnership with other farmers Organization such as the Easter and Southern Africa Small Holder Farmers forum (EASFF) Uganda chapter.
Hakim Baliraine, the chairperson of EAFF Uganda chapter, said farming organically plays a vital role in the conservation of biodiversity which has been depleted by the current convectional farming.
“Convectional farming is too expensive to the local farmers because every season farmers are required to buy Agricultural inputs such as Seed, pesticides and other agri-chemicals which increase the cost of Agricultural production in the country yet majority of our farmers are poor.
“As farmers, we are asking government to put their mechanisms that can support local farmers to adopt agro ecology farming practices this will save farmers from Expensive Agro Inputs and also open markets for the Ugandan Organically produced products to the International market,” he said.
He added that relying agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers and other Industry produced inputs has impacted on the safety of the foods being produced in the country and also impacted on the ecological system in the country.
“Farmers are still ignorant when it comes to chemical application in the agriculture production system that is why a lot of the living organism in the soils have been killed yet they are vital in the soil formation and in the making of organic fertilizers which is more nutritious to crops than Industrial chemicals (fertilizers) whose role is to feed the plant only living the soil depleted,” he added.
The First National Agro Ecology Actors Symposium was a platform for further understanding of agro ecology, dialogue on pertinent national context specific agro ecological issues and initiate a process for development of an inclusive strategy for scaling up of agro ecology in Uganda.
Speaking at the same event, Marilyn Kabalere, a senior officer at PELUM Uganda, said government needs to come up with policies to support the adaption of agro ecology farming practices among the Ugandan Small scale farmers.
She said the Non state Actor have played their role through sensitizing farmers and other stakeholder on the Issues related to Agro ecology through Dialogues.
“Government through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries needs to integrate Agro Ecology in their sector framework planning for the good of our Agriculture sector. Many farmers across the country are willing to adopt Agro ecology but this can be achieved with support from the ministry since they are the government implementing agency for the agriculture sector” She said
To ensure that agro ecology is adopted many Organization have been meeting farmers across the various parts of the Country to educate them about the Importance’s of agro ecology farming practices
During the symposium, small scale farmers also discussed the issue of securing natural resources rights for small scale farmers. These rights concern access, ownership and utilization of land, water and seeds as factors of agricultural production.
Moses Onen from PELUM Uganda predicts that the scramble for land is going to increase as population grows. This is can only get worse because land documentation spelling out who owns which in Uganda is poor. This makes access to land hard for some people. It also gives land grabbers the opportunity to take advantage of ignorant land owners.
Responding to the call from farmers, Connie Acayo a commissioner Agriculture Extension Services at the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, said government has put in place policies that can support the Adaptation of Agro- Ecology in the Country.
“Currently, we have many policies that farmers need to depends on if they want Agro ecology to be promoted by the Government, as Ministry we have recruited Agricultural Extension Workers who are willing to advise farmers on the issues related to Agro Ecology , farmers need to be organized and government will support them at the grass root level,” she said.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO