Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga addressing the participants
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Uganda, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, the guest of honor at the 1st Eastern Africa Agroecology conference in Nairobi-Kenya, addressed the participants about the state of agroecology in his country.
According to Kyakulaga, Uganda has a comparative advantage in promoting agroecology because its agricultural production is, by default, organic due to the minimal use of external inputs like inorganic fertilizers and pesticides since immemorial. “I wouldn’t be wrong to say that our culture is organic agriculture and, by extension, it is agroecology,” he said.
In 2019, the Uganda Government approved the National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP) to harness the country’s organic agriculture potential by ensuring a regulated sub-sector contributing to national development. The mission of the organic policy is to support investments in the entire organic agriculture value chain for inclusiveness, enhanced livelihoods, production, and environmental sustainability.
Echoing the theme: “Transforming food systems for responsible production, consumption, and social well-being.” Kyakulaga said the conference is a great opportunity to share best practices, researched and proven knowledge that can help everyone elaborate evidence-based policy actions and implementable global, regional, and national plans.
He also said that Uganda recognizes the potential of agroecology in achieving the country’s vision 2040 and the sustainable development goals on ending poverty, ending hunger, promoting good health, decent economic growth, sustainable communities, responsible consumption, sustainable consumption production, climate action, and biodiversity.
“Uganda is further committed to promoting agroecology and achieving sustainable food systems. To this end, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries joined the agroecology coalition birthed from the United Nations Food Systems Summit held in New York in September 2021’’.
Kyakulaga also thanked the conference organizers for inviting a cross-section of actors with multidisciplinary skills. “The production constraints we experience, namely, prolonged droughts, erratic rainfall, floods, crop failure, pests and diseases, food loss, hunger, and malnutrition, respect no race, boundary or technical jurisdiction. Collective action, networking, and partnership strengthening to address these issues are necessary,’’ he stressed.
He, however, assured the participants present about the commitment from the government of Uganda ready to uplift the quality of life of all its citizens through commercializing subsistence agriculture, ensuring food and nutrition security, as well as increasing household incomes. “It is also promoting and supporting all categories of farmers from small, medium, to large-scale, as well as conventional and organic /ecological agriculture,’’ he added.
He did not forget to hit about the challenges of climate change across the country and the world. “One of the greatest challenges we face today is feeding a fast-growing global population. This is fueled by climate change, weather variability, environmental and natural resources degradation, and biodiversity loss,’’. Kyakulaga suggested that sector-wide approaches to food systems transformation are therefore necessary.
“The time is now for us to rise and employ pragmatic approaches, strategies, and practices that can increase and sustain the supply of food, feed, fiber, and energy for our people,’’.
Having a special consideration for women who are the heart of agriculture. It is known that women play a vital role in Uganda’s rural agricultural sector and contribute a higher-than-average share of field labor across the country. They also make up more than half of Uganda’s agricultural workforce, and a higher proportion of women than men work in farming, with 76 percent versus 62 percent, according to the world bank. Regardless their crop production remains low compared to men.
Agriculture is still pivotal in spurring socio-economic transformation. For instance, it contributes 24 percent of Uganda’s GDP, and employs 68 percent of the population, largely smallholder farmers and 73 percent of women. Coincidentally, these constitute the agricultural production communities outside the money economy and are vulnerable to climate change, environmental degradation, and food insecurity.
This story is with immense support from ESAFF Uganda through the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators.