The First National Agroecology Actors Symposium (NAAS 2019) sat at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala to discuss how best they can leverage on the science of agro ecology to make agriculture more productive.
In one of the deliberations at the symposium, at a side meeting, small scale farmers discussed aching issues regarding ‘securing natural resources rights for small scale farmers’. The farmers in their talk painted a picture that they are having little access to resources and their fundamental rights are being abused.
Mr. Charles Opio, the Seed Rights Coordinator at Oxfam said these rights concern access, ownership and utilization of land, water and seeds as factors of agricultural production. He noted that to secure natural resources rights for small scale farmers there is need to address gender rights issues, improve access to land and keep in mind that most land in the country is not documented.
Mr. Enock Kamugabi form UN Women said small scale farming is fundamentally composed of women, young and old. They also provide unpaid labour on the family farms, he said. “Women are the biggest players in small scale farming with 80 percent of the entire small scale farming being women. We cannot ignore them,” Kamugabi said.
SCRAMBLE FOR LAND TO RISE
Pelum Uganda’s Mr. Moses Onen predicts that the scramble for land is going to increase as population also grows. This is can only get worse because land documentation spelling out who owns which in Uganda is poor. This makes access to land hard for some people. It also gives land grabbers opportunity to take advantage of ignorant land owners.
The other worry for these small scale farmers expressed by Mr. Alex Turyaritunga the founder of Cranebow Foundation, a farmer’s organization from Kabale is that multinational companies are conniving with influential people to grab land for commercial farming. This according to Mr. Turyaritunga has left farmers with no land.
Mr. Turyaritunga alleges that these multinational don’t only take away chunks of land but also influence policy formulation. “Therefore we need to come together as farmers and form a network where we can have these issues addressed. We need combined efforts,” Mr. Turyaritunga said in an interview with this Magazine.
MODERN FARMING TECHNIQUES DANGEROUS
There is need to return to traditional farming methods in order to protect the agriculture sector because modern farming techniques are a danger to the sector, Hakim Baliraine, the chairperson of Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF Uganda), told journalists during the first National Agroecology Actors Symposium (NAAS 2019) which took place at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala.
Baliraine is convinced that new farming methods which includes use of hazardous insecticides and fertilizers are not only disadvantageous to the soil but also crops harvested contain chemicals that can cause diseases like cancer, ulcers and high blood pressure. He explained that there is need for farmers to keep land and the soil alive and able to support crop growing and offer nutritious harvests.
“We have semi illiterate farmers who can’t or don’t read labels of these insecticides and fertilizer so they apply the wrong dosage. This over dose of chemicals causes diseases. Therefore in the process of agroecology, we need to reduce or remove the use of inorganic products,” Baliraine said.