The Eastern and Southern Africa Smaller Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Uganda chapter has asked government to join their efforts in sensitizing smallholder farmers to embrace organic farming.
On July 29th 2019, cabinet approved the National Organic Agriculture Policy whose objectives are; to strengthen organic agriculture research, appropriate technology development and utilization, to promote production, processing and marketing for organic products among others.
The objectives of the policy were also to enhance appropriate post-harvest handling practices and value addition to organic agricultural products and lastly to strengthen environmental conservation, indigenous biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.
However, due to inadequate sensitization by the government to the public to embrace organic farming, there is still poor response by farmers towards adopting the practices.
According to some players in the Agricultural sector, most Agricultural Extension officers instead of promoting organic farming, they are promoting conventional farming which has financial implications to farmers especially the smaller holder ones.
The chairperson ESAFF Uganda chapter Hakim Baliraine told this website on Tuesday that promoting organic farming has tremendous importance as compared to conventional farming especially when it comes to fighting poverty, environmental degradation amongst others.
“The demand for organically agricultural products in Uganda is high both locally and internationally but the supply of such products is still very low because many farmers have not embraced organic farming. The government needs to wake up and streamline organic farming in its program,” Mr Baliraine said.
He added that Civil Societies and Organization like ESAFF have embarked on promoting organic farming through their members countrywide by organizing National Organic week.
“In October this year we organised the National Organic Week and our members were educated more about organic farming practices, it’s the economic value and the Information we are getting is that many farmers are willing to adopt the practices,” he noted.
Mr Baliraine further disclosed that the activities in October were to create more awareness about organic farming.This was through holding farmer’s dialogues, carrying out market visitation to interact with food crops dealers to ensure that they give also a priority to organically produced crops in their market stalls.
According to Mr Baliraine,although ESAFF Uganda has held radio talk shows countrywide to ensure that the farming community understand Organic farming, it’s not enough unless the government joins the campaign or spearheads the agenda to promoting organic farming. Baliraine is sure that this can be achieved if there’s Law on organic farming.
“Currently there,s no Law which guides the implementation of the organic farming Policy. Therefore as farmers, we are demanding the government to come up with Organic farming Bill to ensure that the policy is implemented,” said Baliraine.
Beatrice Pangani a farmer from Kasese and also a member of ESAFF Uganda said that if Organic Farming Law is in place and well implemented by the government it can save the environment and entices the youth to engage in agriculture since it’s cheap to adopt.
“Many younger people are not engaging themselves in Agricultural sector because the current farming practice’s (conventional farming ) is capital intensive but with Organic Farming the practices is capital friendly provided government implements what the policy says,” she said.
Responding to their demands, the Minister for Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said government is committed to ensuring that Organic farming is adopted countrywide by farmers because the Ministry is receiving orders for organically produced Agricultural products but the supply is still inadequate.
“As the government, we are assuring farmers that our commitment is there at first it could have been imaginary but we have seen that Organic Farming is now a way to go since we have started getting orders for such products,” he said.
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