Smale scale farmers have expressed fears on government’s move to legitimize Genetically Modified organisation (GMO’S) arguing that it is a way of enslaving them and taking away their independence.
The farmers under their organization, Eastern and Southern African Small Scale farmers Forum (ESAFF) said the current agricultural practices like high dependence on inorganic manure, use of GMO seeds are not sustainable in a good way and will in the long run worsen the land and environmental degradation challenges as well as the right to access to seeds.
The chairman of the Forum, Hakim Baliraine said that the practice of depending on scientists to get seeds every season and the use of inorganic manure to fertilize the land, will only worsen the vulnerability of small scale farmers.
“In the past, the farmers were able to reserve seeds for the next season and have enough to eat and cater for their families needs. Now each season, we have to buy seeds.
This is enslaving us and is not beneficial to us in any way. The organic products have proved to have better market locally and international because they are safe and healthy for consumption. What’s the use of producing more if its not sustainable?” He said.
Baliraine also asked all agricultural stakeholders like farmers, government, processors to promote the use of organic means of preserving the soil and environment because they are more sustainable.
“The chemicals that farmers are using are being used badly because they had not been enough training, hence we have seen a lot of poisonous food products on the market, our land fertility problems and climate change are worsening.
We need to go back to our cultural ways of preserving our land, and the environment if we are going to raise a healthy population,” he added.
This was during the second day of the first National Agroecology Actors symposium (NAAS) that took place at silver springs Hotel Bugolobi on Friday May 30.
The symposium, organised by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM), brought together different stakeholders in the agricultural sector to discuss strategies on how they can use Agroecosystems to ensure agricultural sustainability and improve growth.
AgroEcology is defined as the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems and food systems.
It focuses on sustainability of farming systems and puts in consideration the relationship between agriculture, culture and society.
Currently global agriculture is challenged by factors like climate change, biodiversity load and the growing demand for food by the 7.4b world population that is growing at 1.13% per year on static natural resources.
This has forced most economies to turn to conventional agriculture to increase yields, however this has been done at the expense of the environment and climate change.
Commenting on the strategies that can help farmers have access to resources like land, seed and water, Enock Mugabi, a representative from UN Women said there was need for government to put in place policies or strategies and specific laws that allow women to have access or ownership to land because they are the biggest users of land and consist the largest number of small farmers that need help.
According to a report from UNEP done in 2015, there is a 13% gender gap in agricultural production between the women and men. This means that men’s agricultural productivity is 13 times higher than that of women.
This is mainly attributed to the unpaid care work that women do at home, limited access to land ownership for women, lack of education and limited access to markets.
Uganda’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture as its mainstay. The sector remains critical to Uganda’s economy, it employs approximately 79% of the labour force, of which 77% are women and with the youth constituting to 63%.