Mr Chariton Namuwoza, the chief executive officer of the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda. PHOTO | RAINHER OJON
Organic products mainly exported to the European Union fetch about $51m (Shs186b) only, in spite the large international market for Organic products estimated at over $100b (Shs366 trillion) annually. Prosper Magazine talked to Mr Chariton Namuwoza, the chief executive officer of the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU), on some of the major reforms within this sub sector.
Bring us to speed with the state of the organic sub sector?
Globally, the organic sub-sector continues to grow from strength to strength. According to the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the global value of organic food exceeded the $100 billion mark for the first time in 2018. The US market takes the lead with over 41 per cent, followed by Germany (over 11 per cent) and France (over 9 per cent).
Several markets have posted double-digit growth rates. Though Uganda’s share of the Global Market Pie is still small (about $50 million as of 2018), it is projected to grow in the future, in light of the latest developments in the sub-sector. More interestingly, with 210,352 certified organic farmers (2018), Uganda is only next to India, as the world’s second country with the highest number of certified organic farmers.
Moreover, on the policy front, for the first time in the history of the sub-sector, the Government approved the National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP), which was launched in September, 2020.
This demonstrates government’s commitment to support the growth of the sub-sector within a regulated environment. Nogamu makes many inquiries about organic products from buyers, retailers and consumers, locally, regionally and globally.
There is also an upward trend in investments around organic farming and processing, especially of organic coffee, oil crops, herbs and spices (like vanilla), fruits and vegetables, cocoa, to mention but a few. Even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, organic agriculture has so far proven to be very resilient and continues to offer a combination of health, economic, social and environmental benefits to producers and consumers world-wide.
In September 2020, we saw the National Organic Agricultural Policy passed by Cabinet, what does does this mean for the sub-sector?
First, it serves as the first major step towards having a well regulated organic sub-sector, which should guarantee the production of quality organic products, increase in our exports and share of the global organic market.
That notwithstanding, to operationalise it, we need to enact an organic bill/regulation/law and this is the next step, which will trigger proper implementation of the policy. A well regulated sector, coupled with growing global organic market, Uganda will easily attract more investment in the sub-sector, which will trigger increased income and employment opportunities to both the urban and rural population.
What are the views of most farmers engaged in organic farming, in as far as the organic policy is concerned?
Farmers need improved organic farming technologies which ensure high production and productivity. They are concerned about the availability of genuine certified organic inputs, such as pesticides/insecticides and fertilisers. In addition, since they are aware that the organic market demands certified products which should be well-packaged and labeled, they want the certification costs reduced and more advice on post-harvest handling and access to markets.
They need support towards an appropriate marketing infrastructure that guarantees organic integrity.
Now that this policy is in place, what other legal frameworks are needed to enable efficient operations of the organic sub sector?
We need to enact an Organic Bill and regulations to operationalise the policy. The Ministry of Agriculture has already embarked on this process. With the on-going dissemination meetings across all regions of Uganda, the Agriculture Ministry working closely with NOGAMU, ACSA and PELUM Uganda, is now collecting views from key stakeholders, which will inform the development of the Regulatory Impact Assessment and subsequently, the Organic Bill.
What major interventions will drive growth within the organic space?
Nogamu is working closely with the government (through MAAIF) and development partners to promote production, processing and trading of organic products. For instance, in 2020, Nogamu signed a contract with the African Organic Network (AfrONet) and the French Development Agency (AFD) to implement a 3.5 year project to promote institutional innovations in organic agriculture in Africa and Uganda.
The focus is primarily on three areas: innovative policies, innovative markets and innovations to guarantee organic quality through the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS). Over the project period, we shall target more than100,000 actors and we are already moving in this direction.
Where do we see the organic sub sector in the next 10 years?
The next 10 years will be exciting for Uganda’s organic industry. I envision a well regulated sub-sector, with more participation from government, the private sector and development partners.
We shall see a lot of innovations and increased production which will translate into increased value of our organic exports. Organic agriculture will be a sure avenue for both the rural and urban poor to escape the trap of poverty.
Challenges of organic farmers
– Low production to meet the huge market demand
– Inadequate organic agriculture extension services
– Limited investment in manufacturing of organic inputs
– Limited capacity to meet certification costs and market standards
– Lack of enforceable regulations
Original Post: Daily Monitor
Kigezi In Famine Scare After Drought Hits The Region
Farmers in Rubanda district are living in fear that they may be hit by famine due to the prolonged drought that has greatly affected the area. This comes after the area was hit by heavy rains in the month of May 2023, which left most of the gardens washed away, and since then the dry season has started up to date.
This is the first of its kind for Rubanda district and Kigezi at large to undergo such a prolonged drought.
According to farmers, this is the first of its kind for Rubanda to go through a long drought, adding that they are in fear that they may be hit by famine since they were used to receiving rains at the beginning of August, which is not the case this year. They add that even the seedlings that they had planted excepting that the rains would come have all dried up by the long spell.
Farmers also say that they don’t know what could be the cause that has stopped the rains,adding that the government should come up with a program that provides them with seedlings.
Akampurira Prossy Mbabazi, a woman Member of Parliament for Rubanda District, says that the issue of drought is not only in Rubanda District; however, this is the first of its kind. She adds that the drought comes after the area was hit by heavy rains, which caused a lot of challenges, adding that now it is the drought that may affect the farmers.
Akampurira further says that, as a leader,she will continue to educate farmers on better methods of farming depending on climate change.
Kikafunda Evelyne, founder of Green Environment Promotion (GEP), says it’s sad that farmers in Rubanda district and Kigezi at large are experiencing a long drought. She attributes it to problems of environmental degradation that include swamps being reclaimed, deforestation, and plastic pollution, adding that this is an indication that people don’t mind about the environment.
Kikafunda calls upon all people to take part in protecting the environment, adding that environmentalists should devise means on how to protect the environment.
It’s now been four months since it last rained in the districts of greater Kabale, that is, Rubanda, Kabale, and Rukiga districts, as well as other parts of the Kigezi Subregion.
Ban GMOs in Africa, farmers urge govts
A cross section of residents from the oil-rich Albertine Region have petitioned African heads of state to ban genetically modified organism (GMOs) and crops across the continent to save Africa’s indigenous crops and animal species from extinction.
The August 26, petition addressed to President William Ruto of Kenya, the Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, asks African heads of states who are meeting this week for Africa Climate Dialogue to pass strong resolutions to ban GMOs.
Africa Climate Dialogue kicks off today in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the World.”
Co-hosted by the Kenya and the African Union Commission, it brings together heads of state and Government, policymakers, civil society organisations, the private sector, multilateral institutions and the youth to design and catalyse actions and solutions for climate change in Africa.
The petitioners under the Uganda Oil Refinery Residents, have made a raft of recommendations including passing a strong resolution to immediately ban the use and promotion of GMO products in African countries, a resolution for promotion of indigenous species of plant seeds and animals in all African states and another resolution to increase budget allocation for agriculture with focus on research in preservation and conservation of indigenous species of plants and animals in Africa.
“This will contribute to knowledge sharing and awareness creation on the relevance of indigenous species as a response to climate change,” the petition recommends, adding: “Lastly, pass resolution to integrate indigenous agriculture practices in education curriculum in some relevant subjects like agriculture and biology in all African countries. This will enable preservation and increased knowledge among the young people on the need to preserve and promote indigenous species.”
The petitioners, drawn from Kabaale and Busheruka sub-counties in Hoima District Uganda where there are planned oil refineries and other infrastructure, say GMOs present a number of risks and their introduction onto the continent could have a huge negative impact on food security, indigenous crops and organisms, health risks and associated problems.
The petitioners say while different African states have made a number of policies, laws and commitments regarding climate change, including integrating the aspect of climate justice into their different state legislations, as a grass root community whose livelihood entirely depends on agriculture, they still believe that leaders have not done enough to respond to these calamities.
“The major concern is about the use and promotion of genetically modified organisms [for both plants and animals] in Africa.
Uganda, whose backbone is agriculture, once known for its indigenous plants and animals now faces many difficulties in dealing with these invasive species. Maintenance and management strategies of these species require a lot of capital in terms of purchasing inputs such as fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, among others,” the petition reads in part.
The petitioners say with the worsening climate change, the introduction of one season fast maturing plants has made it difficult for farmers to plan. They argue that GMOs, which they claim are invasive species onto the continent, cannot withstand climate change and weather vagaries and therefore increase food insecurity on the continent.
“As earlier stated, these species require many inputs in terms of chemicals like fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, processed feeds, and vaccines, among others that are all expensive for the ordinary African farmers,” they add in the petition.
The petitioners also contend that in Africa, more than 85 percent of grass root communities heavily rely on rain-fed agriculture and that the ‘invasive species’ are not resistant and not compatible with the local environmental conditions.
“As such, they require effective irrigation as an alternative, which is extremely expensive for grass root communities. Whereas these GMOs were initially introduced as a solution to enhance agricultural productivity and food security, there has been a concerning trend of a financial strain on communities due to the high costs associated with these invasive species,” the petition states.
“Buying seasonal seeds for planting and agricultural inputs to manage these species among others is not sustainable and oftentimes leads to significant drain of limited financial resources within the communities. The local farmers are often compelled to divert funds from other essential needs such as education, healthcare and basic infrastructure development,” the petition adds.
They also say there is an increased outbreak of pests and disease, which is attributed to the increase in temperatures caused by the changing climate. Unfortunately, they say, GMOs are prone to attack by these pests and diseases.
They also say the GMOs present huge health risks to the local communities, who are illiterate and do not understand the precautions to follow while using these pesticides and herbicides.
This, according to the petition, exposes the users to high risks of contracting diseases through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact that can lead to acute and chronic health related issues.
“These include respiratory diseases, skin irritations, neurological disorders, and even certain types of cancers in the end. Most grass root women are also worried about the consumption of these genetically modified organisms since they are mainly treated with chemicals; others are injected with hormones to increase their shelf-life spans,” the petition states.
Source: Daily Monitor
NEBBI: Livestock disease kills 14,000 goats
Nebbi, Uganda. The Nebbi district veterinary department is struggling to contain an outbreak of the Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), a disease which is highly fatal in cattle and other hoofed animals.
At least 14,650 goats have died and 53,397 goats have been infected following the outbreak of the disease which was first reported in 2022.
According to the local authorities, the disease has since spread to a cross all the sub counties like Erussi, Nebbi ,Alala Jupangira Atego ,Ndhew and Kucwiny as well as Nebbi Municipality.
Moreen Awekonimungu, a livestock farmer in Nebbi Municipality says that she has so far lost three goats since the outbreak was reported a year ago. She further notes that an infected animal dies within two weeks after presenting with signs and symptoms of the disease.
The Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) is an infectious disease caused by mycoplasmas and it mostly affects ruminants.
The diseases are transmitted through direct contact and inhalation of droplets from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, coughing, difficult respiration, edema, and lung tissue abnormalities.
Emmauel Ongeitho, the Nebbi Municipality assistant veterinary officer blames the persistence of the diseases on the poor attitude of farmers against vaccination of their livestock. According to Ongeitho several farmers shunned the mass vaccination exercise which resulted in a spike in livestock deaths.
According to Dr. William Abedkane, the principal veterinary Officer for Nebbi district, the outbreak which started last year has been killing goats silently since farmers are hesitant to report the cases to the veterinary officers in their respective sub counties.
Abedkane further appealed to farmers to pay attention to animal health just like they do with their own health.
According to information from the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the outbreak of Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP disease was first confirmed in Uganda in 1995 in Karamoja region.
Original Source: URA Via The Independent.
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