National Organic Week To Promote Agroecological Farming Practices And Healthy Food

The fifth Annual National Organic Week is back. The 2023 event will focus on promoting agroecological farming techniques and healthy food in the country.

This year’s theme is Promoting of Agroecological Farming Techniques and Healthy Foods. It will kick off on Monday, September 25 2023 and end on September 29 2023.  

Hakim Baliraine, the National Chairperson of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF Uganda) said in a media statement that they will use the Week to share agroecology farming practices and experiences.

He said they also use the Week to raise awareness among the public on the consumption of agroecologically produced agricultural products.

Commitment to our planet's health

The Week will also highlight the contribution of organic farming in combating climate change which is becoming a big global challenge. 

“In the heart of every farmer, the National Organic Week leaves a lasting imprint. It's a time when we reflect on the true essence of our craft, nurturing the land, and tending to the roots of sustainability,” Baliraine said. 

“This Week reminds us that the choices we make today, in support of organic farming, will bear fruit for generations to come. It's not just a celebration; it's a commitment to our planet's health and the legacy we leave behind in conserving our environment,” he further explained.  

Baliraine said the Week aims to inform the wider public about the importance of agroecologiclly farming practices and consumption of organically produced foods. 

He said it will encourage the uptake of organic farming practices among small-scale farmers.

Food value chain 

The organizers of the event believe that adopting organic farming can play a big role in the country’s food value chain.

It is further believed that organic farming will save the country’s environment which has been highly degraded by commercial farming.

Commercial farming usually depends on inorganic farming inputs that are considered to be very dangerous to the country’s environment.  

Supporters of agroecological farming practices are now urging local farmers, especially smallholder farmers, to resort to organic farming inputs.

Organic inputs like locally produced fertilizers and pesticides boost organically produced agricultural products which are highly demanded both locally and internationally.

Environmentally friendly

Farming groups, especially the smallholder farmers, say organic farming is environmentally friendly and less costly compared to inorganic farming inputs that are expensive. 

To ensure that farmers embrace the production systems, many interventions have been initiated by farming associations such as ESAFF Uganda and other farmers groups especially those that unites smallscale farmers across the country. 

The forums have been organizing the annual National Organic Week since 2019. It’s on this background that ESAFF Uganda has organized the 5th National Organic Week 2023. 

Trade of organic agriculture growing 

Over the past ten years, global output and trade of organic agriculture have grown exponentially in the global market, particularly in Europe and North America. 

There has also been a shift in consumer preferences toward safe and hazard-free organic food. Rising environmental consciousness and the health risks associated with agrochemicals are a few of the main factors driving the growing interest in organic agriculture. 

Uganda's agricultural system is essentially organic by nature due to the relatively low use of foreign inputs like inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. 

Chemical fertilizers are among the least used globally despite the fact that their use is rigorously regulated for plant protection.

According to the players in the agricultural sector, this situation presents a tremendous potential for organic agriculture to develop and sustainably produce more food to increase food security and farmer revenue Farmers. 

Creating organic farming awareness 

The 5th National Organic Week also aims at increasing awareness of agroecological farming production systems and accelerates the uptake of these in the wider farming community.

It also aims to increase awareness of organic products and their benefits among consumers and to position indigenous seed varieties as the best adaptation strategy to address the impacts of climate change.

The Week provides a platform for dialogue between policymakers and small-scale farmers on how to sustainably use organic and biological farming methods and products directly to meet agricultural and environmental challenges.

The week-long event will be celebrated in Soroti, Gulu, Masaka, Lira, Amuru, Amuria, Adjumani, Kisoro, Kasese, Mbale, Kamuli, Jinja and Mityana.

The Week will include community dialogues, radio talk shows, engagement with Agroecology Clubs in schools and the 5th National Organic Dialogue as the climax event. 


Civil Society Guides Government On Optimal Land Investment Practices

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are calling on the government of Uganda to strengthen its working relationship with development partners as a way of boosting fair and responsible local and foreign investment in the country. 

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) say that the current investment environment is not conducive especially to the local communities because related laws are not in tandem with the international responsible investment protocols. 

Some of the protocols not aligned with the Ugandan laws include the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI), as well as national frameworks. 

These frameworks call for the promotion of secure tenure land rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty and supporting sustainable development. 

The concern about the imbalance between the Ugandans laws and the protocols was raised during a training meeting of Gomba District Local Government on the use of the Investment Compliance Monitoring Tool. 

The training was organized by the Eastern and Sothern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda in partnership with the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the Germany Agency for Development (GIZ). 

Building capacity in Gomba district 

The meeting was aimed at building the capacity of Gomba District Local Government departments in using the Investor Compliance Monitoring Tool to track data collection, data analysis, data presentation and reporting.

The tools will also support Gomba in making formal discussions and guidance to promote responsible investments in the district to realize the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, human rights, and poverty eradication among others. 

Ronald Bagaga, the Policy and Research Officer at ESAFF, said there's a need for the government to come up with investment policies that support the interest of smallholder farmers. He said that on most occasions smallholder farmers have been affected when it comes to allocating land for investments to investors.

"The government should also have in mind that local communities need land, especially for agricultural production. Without respecting their interests, this will affect their livelihoods since they depend on land as a natural resource to earn a living" Bagaga said.  

It's on this background that ESAFF and partners conducted the capacity building training where ten Gomba district local government officials were skilled in the use of the Investor Compliance Monitoring Tool.

The training attracted the district economic physical planner, agricultural officers, lands officers, environmental officers, district commercial development officers and the Chief Administrative Officer. 

It promoted responsible investment governance with a focus on agriculture and food systems that contribute to food security and nutrition.

ESAFF, GIZ commended for innovation 

In the training, the District Commercial Development Office of Gomba Kawalya Morgan commended GIZ and ESAFF for coming up with the tool which guides them when it comes to the allocation of land for investment. 

Daniel Kirumira from GIZ promised Gomba that ESAFF will avail them with a computer system on which the ICMT Tool will be installed. He said the system will entirely be managed by the district to lower the fear of data insecurity.

He asserted that the entire process is to be managed by the district right from data collection, analysis and reporting and the district will have full control over the data 

"The tool will make sure that the district can conduct investor compliance monitoring. The tool will support the district have a record of responsible and non-compliant investors within the district and keep track of investments within the district,” he said. 

He also said the tool will support the district to identify areas where different investors require capacity building and ultimately informs them of policies that need to be raised/revised. 

Gomba is an example

After the training, ESAFF and GIZ decided to support Gomba with a workstation for monitoring investments in the district and facilitating district officials during data collection from identified investments. 

The intention is to ensure that the local government can be a learning centre and point of reference for other Local Governments across the country in monitoring investments in their districts. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), agricultural, investments in Africa have a massive social and economic footprint. 

More than 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is smallholder farmers, and about 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agricultural investment practices.

In the same way, the economies and livelihoods of citizens in East Africa are predominantly dependent on agricultural investments. The sector accounts for 25%-40% of EAC Partner States (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of South Sudan) Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Agriculture is the leading employer of over 80% of the population in the region. More than 70% of the industries in the EAC are agro-based and depend on agriculture as the main source of raw materials. Agricultural commodities constitute about 65% of the volume of intra-regional trade in the EAC.

In Uganda, Uganda Investments Authority (UIA) estimates Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to increase from 3.68% to 5% and the Domestic Direct Investment to increase from 24.5% to 50% by 2025.  

The government of Uganda established UIA as an entity responsible for monitoring and tracking all investments made in the country as guided by the investment code of Uganda.  


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