Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

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Tree Plantation in Mukono, Uganda

A country with immense natural resources endowed with concourses of opportunities but littered with countless abuses by politicians and public servants that have failed us to reach our potential. We lack the public will to secure own our food when hunger strikes hard. So we are a hungry nation with failed agricultural promises and policies. 
 
Our exceptional climatic conditions, fertile soils and two planting seasons make us such a potential agricultural rich country. We live in a country where 75 percent of our citizens male, female and youth are engaged in agriculture-related businesses. 72 percent of our sisters, wives and mothers are employed in agriculture and this even gets higher for the rural Ugandan woman. 
 
I have been privileged to witness the failed policies of this regime for a period of 31 years. As a young man who was born in Jinja. I grew up seeing Busoga Cooperative Society work for the farmers from that part of the country and as the sun fades away to let the night take its place was the promise from good to worse in the late 1990s for the farmers across the country when the work of cooperative societies started to be interfered with by the regime agents.
 
We have seen the fights between the Bugisu Cooperative Union where the agents of the regime took over and billions were stolen and it almost crumbled if it was not the defiant spirit of Hon Nathan Nandala Mafabi we stood up for the farmers of coffee in that sub-region.
 
My point here is how can you fail to see where your potential lies as a government? Uganda is a country at the heart of Great Lakes Region with a blessed fertile soil and a good amount of rains but still, we have failed to seize the opportunity of being the region’s food basket even if we had the rains. The waters of River Nile seem to be working miracles for Egypt and they are willing to go to war if anyone ever tampered with the flow of that water. But being at the source what have we done to utilise the waters of this river?
 
Our smallholder farmers are hard working men and women who have fought for their survival amidst failed promises and policies from the regime. The problem of our country has never been that we lack food or produce. No! Our farmers have been dealing with a huge Post-Harvest-Loss problem for a long time. Even when there is a huge harvest, there is no government policy to stabilise the prices of our produce so the only way would then be to sell cheaply in order to avoid the produce from rotting away.
 
A government that cares not for its people deserves not any mandate to manage public affairs.
This government has failed to see that food insecurity is such a big and costly problem. As the country is ravaged by a drought that has left many hungry and without food still there is no debate about food security and ways on how to help keep the country’s food secure for such hards times. As we seek to save lives by providing food to those in need we need to unite under a bi-partisan umbrella to care for those without food rather than shooting at those who have come with food to share it with those without. We cannot seek to secure our political images at the heart of those who are dying of hunger we must unite as a nation to save our own. Uganda Police should not be naive to the point of shelving away common sense, even robots have emotions and can judge good from bad, I implore our men and women in uniform to be smart. There are silly orders that can be ignored for the common good.
 
As I conclude I would like to call on Parliament to engage into constructive policy debates that can only put our country first and it is time to debate about an agricultural policy that solves problems like lack of food for our people. 

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Centre for Management Technology, with supporters OLAM and Gabonese Ministry of Agriculture will host 2nd Palm Oil Africa on 17-19 Oct, 2013 in Libreville, Gabon, a fast emerging key palm oil investment hub. It will unravel challenges as Gabon aspires to become the largest agriculture producer by 2020.

Africa is tipped to emerge as a global palm oil hub due to influx of investors seeking diverse participatory models in the Africa palm oil chain. Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria are all tapping into new palm driven opportunities. Will this lead to Africa shifting from a net importer to an exporter? With sustainable protocols at its infancy in Africa how soon will it conform to RSPO norms? To what extent will Africa with inherent limitations in climate, infrastructural and production models catch up with dominant Indonesian and Malaysian players?

Held under the Patronage of His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, 2nd Palm Oil Africa held on 17-19 Oct, 2013 in Libreville, Gabon and supported by OLAM, will address sustainability and viability of palm oil business models in the region; define evolving structure of the palm oil industry, foreign participation and the palm oil value chain from seeds to high end products. Gabon is fast emerging as a key palm oil centre attracting big investments and is poised to emerge as one of the largest producers by 2020 with favorable agriculture investment policies.

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Such an inspiring piece.

The FARA Social Reporters Blog

“It isn’t where you came from,
its where you’re going that counts.”
—Ella Fitzgerald

Few young people raise to a position, early in their career, where they can inspire others and make a change. For those who do, even fewer dare to take the risk then, to stand up, and push for changes.

Idowu Okheren Ejere is one of those few. As a young Nigerian diplomat and researcher, she is presently the Communication and Public Awareness Officer at FARA. Given the opportunity to coordinate the media outreach at the upcoming Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), she took her task as an opportunity to use young people’s enthusiasm for social media, and pull them into the conference’s social reporting team.

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Uganda has enough problems at hand and in these is the low production of food from our farmers, the problem is not the hoe that has not contributed the best it can in making food production sufficient for all of us, but the surrounding markets for example South Sudan, Congo, Kenya and other countries are feeding in the same food basket that we feed in as a nation. Now after Somalia becomes safer for our traders to do business, we will be faced with another country to take care of in terms of selling our produce.

Our government funding is the number one problem to the Agricultural sector and hence the low production of food to all the above mentioned markets. With NAADS, the story was supposed to be a better one, but it seems that it was created for a few to benefit. With the 3.1% from 3.6% is indeed a drastic fall, agriculture will continue to suffer and the farmer will not see the reason for the budget allocation.

Uganda has enough challenges to deal with, we can still fight on to maintain our country as an organic nation, because GMOs come with a cost to a nation. Below are the seven ways proving why GMOs are not good for man, plant and animals.

1) GMOs disrupt digestion.

Purveyors of GMOs claim that the human body is unable to tell the difference between GMOs and natural food. But a 2004 study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology tells a different story, having found that transgenic plant DNA actually persists in the human gastrointestinal tract upon consumption. According to this important study, which is the closest thing to a human clinical trial that has ever been conducted with GMOs, genetic material from GMOs actually transfers into the DNA of living bacteria in the gut, where it reproduces indefinitely. (http://www.anh-usa.org)

2) GMOs cause cancer.

The most recent study to identify a link between GMO consumption and the formation of cancer, the so-called Seralini Study provides solid evidence showing that GMOs are processed by mammals far differently than natural foods. According to this study’s findings, rats fed a lifetime of GMOs sprayed with the toxic Roundup (glyphosate) herbicide developed serious tumors that took over their entire bodies. An earlier study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences arrived at similar results, with the addition of organ failure as a symptom of GMO consumption. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

3) GMOs increase herbicide use.

Contrary to industry claims, GMOs have not reduced the need for chemical inputs, but rather greatly expanded it. According to a comprehensive, 16-year review of chemical use in conjunction with the advent of GMOs in 1996, researchers from Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources found that herbicide use has increased by an astounding 527 millions pounds since GMOs were first introduced. To make matters worse, Roundup, the chemical of choice for many GMOs, has been found to persist in soils, waterways, and other environmental nooks and crannies, and sometimes it even ends up contaminating water supplies. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com)

4) GMOs damage native species.

A major point of contention with GMOs is that they can very easily pass their traits onto non-GMO, organic, and native crops and other plants, effectively destroying their very integrity permanently. Hundreds of farmers have actually been sued by Monsanto and other GMO giants over the years after their crops were inadvertently contaminated by GMOs. GMOs are also responsible for killing off bees, bats, butterflies, and other pollinators, whose bodies are unable to handle the onslaught of altered DNA and chemicals that are characteristic of GMO technologies. (http://www.naturalnews.com/035511_insecticide_bees_collapse.html)

5) GMOs pollute the environment.

Mainstream scientists and industry spokespersons often gloat about the supposed environmental benefits of GMOs. But the truth of the matter is that GMOs and the chemicals used to grow them are a major source of environmental pollution. A 2011 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that the Bacillus thuriengensis (Bt) bacteria engineered into Monsanto’s GM corn can now be found in hundreds of streams and waterways throughout the U.S. Midwest. Another study published in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry revealed that Roundup herbicide is also present in many waterways and groundwater sources throughout America as well. (http://naturalsociety.com)

6) GMOs deplete soil minerals, destroy beneficial bacteria.

The presence of Roundup, Bt bacteria, and other GMO byproducts in our water and soil would only be half as bad if these toxins merely persisted as innocuous pollutants. But studies have shown that these chemicals actually degrade and deplete soils of vital minerals and beneficial bacteria, both of which protect crops from pests, viruses, and other threatening elements. Glyphosate, the active component in Roundup, also does not biodegrade, which means it is continually accumulating in the environment without restraint, perpetually altering soil composition and contaminating natural resources. (http://www.psrast.org/soilecolart.htm)

7) GMOs spawn crop-destroying ‘superweeds,’ ‘superbugs.’

The basic premise behind how GMOs work portends that artificially engineering crops with resistance to certain chemicals and exposures that would otherwise harm or kill them can improve yields and protect the environment. And this built-in resistance has allowed farmers to indiscriminately spray chemicals like Roundup on their crops without worrying about killing them. But this system is now failing, as the weeds and pests targeted by GMO technologies have mutated and developed resistance to crop chemicals and Bt toxin. As a result, pestilence and disease is on the rise due to GMOs, which spells eventual disaster for the food supply. (http://grist.org)

With all the seven grounds on how GMOs are dangerous to our health, environment and our land how can we continue with enacting a law that allows GMOs to enter our country? The law that Uganda needs is one which will protect our territory not to allow GMOs to enter or be used on our soil.

Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers.

Uganda can follow Bhutan to choose to be an organic agricultural nation.