Small-scale farmers under the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers Forum ( ESAFF) have asked the Ugandan government not to assent to the African Union (AU) seed harmonisation guidelines saying they are a danger to the sector.
The small-scale farmers from across Uganda, who converged in Kampala to dialogue on the key challenges they face, noted that the government should reject the new push to harmonize seed regulatory frameworks across the continent.
“First of all, it takes away the sovereignty of countries in the seed business. “We have the UOPV of 1991 that doesn’t allow farmers to share or sell seeds that are not certified.
“Secondly, it bans seeds that are not certified like Doodo and others hence the danger of hurting farmers in Uganda that are still practicing the UOPV of 1978,” said Hakim Baliraine the National Board Chairperson of ESAFF Uganda.
Baliraine said, the government’s assentment to the African Union guidelines will give a leeway to the entry of Genetically Modified Organisms and businesses, adding that the law only protects Plant breeders like seed Companies without recorgnising the indigenous seed breeders the small-scale farmers.
“Indeed, this law/guidelines is a syndicate. It only looks at one side of the coin without looking at everyone,” said Baliraine.
Small-scale farmers have instead called upon the government to develop guidelines for the registration of farmers’ variety and popularise them amongst the Small scale farmers.
“We are cognizant that guaranteeing farmers’ variety registration rights will increase the production of seed of farmers’varieties, increase farmers based seed enterprises, marketing of farmer seed varieties, income generation from seed sales, quality seed of farmer varieties guaranteed, more food and nutrition secured, reduced dependence on seed from formal system government programs as well as saving,” said Nancy Mugimba the National Coordinator ESAFF Uganda.
Small-scale farmers however called for the reactivation of the National Coordination committee that was formed in 2018 and finance their operations to support small-scale farmers in the process of registering farmers seed varieties.
They also asked the government to recognize the farmer varieties purely on the basis of distinctiveness not uniformity and stability because possible continuous segregation of some lines and in the same spirit repel the Intellectual property rights on seeds to improve access and control of seed for small-scale farmers.