CASSAVA farmers in Serere District found in Eastern Uganda participated in planting field trials of disease-resistant cassava varieties at the National Semi-Arid Resource Institute (NaSSARI) in Serere.
The Cassava Varieties were developed by Ugandan Scientists in collaboration with their global counterparts using Biotechnology Science.
NaSSARI is one of the places where trials for disease-resistant cassava are ongoing. Other places include Namulonge in Wakiso and Mubuko in Kasese.
“As farmers in Eastern Uganda, we are glad to participate in planting these important trials. It shows that our scientists care about the Ugandan farmers through conducting researches that have resulted into developing crops varieties that can tolerate the emerging challenges such as the outbreak of diseases that have greatly affected tuber crops such as cassava.”, noted Dominic Etellu, a prominent cassava farmer in Eastern Uganda.
Another farmer shared his experience of a disease that caused him to lose his entire field.
“I have ever lost the entire garden to a disease that caused rotting and I am glad that this cassava we have planted today is able to resist that disease. We have also been told that these new crops explanation are compared side by side with what we already grow,” Okiror Sam, a Serere Farmer.
Farmers, however, will be able to access this variety after a biosafety assessment following a legal framework. A new law referred to as the Genetic regulatory law awaits voting in Parliament following its return by the President.
According to the Executive Director of Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (SCIFODE), Isaac Ongu, policymakers should play their part and pass the law.
“The problem of cassava brown streak disease still exists as shared by these farmers, scientists have laboured to develop these robust potential varieties, policymakers must act faster to approve a regulatory framework if they really care about the suffering farmers,” said Ongu.
Uganda has struggled to come up with the law despite several field trials that are approaching final products. Countries like neighbouring Kenya have indeed gone ahead of Uganda to release GMO crops for their farmers.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO