The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Uganda has implored the Government to ban the use of hand hoes in the country, for increased food production.
According to FAO, with enough food production, Uganda has the capacity of becoming a food basket for not only East Africa, but also the African continent.
“We have to issue a decree to ban the use of hand hoes in our agriculture. How we mechanize, how we become more efficient, how our land becomes more productive, those are things we need to do to ensure we have sufficient food,” said Antonio Querido, the FAO country representative to Uganda.
Querido, made the remarks on Wednesday at Parliament, during a joint press conference on World Food Day, by the Parliamentary alliance on food and nutrition security.
He explained that with favourable weather conditions, fertile soils and mechanized agriculture as opposed to the use of rudimentary methods of farming, Uganda is capable of producing enough food to feed Ugandans and the African continent.
He said: “If there is any country in the world where zero hunger is possible, this country is Uganda. You are blessed with natural resources; you are blessed with beautiful weather and sufficient amount of water so food insecurity in Uganda should be a thing of the past”.
Statistics show that 89% of the population in Uganda is food insecure.
The population has normal access to food from their production and in the market. Majority of the Ugandans especially those involved in subsistence farming, still use hand hoes for food production.
It is also said that 12% of the total population in the country is chronically food insecure. These are scattered in Karamoja, Teso and Acholi regions. This has been attributed to poor rainfall performance characterized by long dry spells.
Milton Muwuma, the Chairperson Parliamentary alliance on food and nutrition security, said the escalating change in Uganda’s climate witnessed by prolonged droughts, irregular rainfall patterns, and floods is undoubtedly threatening agriculture, the country’s core food security, employment and livelihood.
“We must focus on addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity in this country if we are to fulfil Government’s commitment to our Vision 2040 and the global goals specifically SDG2 on zero hunger,” Muwuma said.
He noted that food insecurity erodes families’ health, livelihoods and resilience, adding that children are often hit disproportionately by hunger and nutrition crises, both in the short and long term.
According to a UNICEF Uganda Karamoja response report, 2020, 142,378 children aged 6-59 months have been screened for malnutrition in 6 out of 9 districts in Karamoja region.
Approximately, 91,600 children in Northern Eastern Uganda, according to the parliamentary alliance, are at risk of death unless action is taken to address the hunger situation in the region.
The MPs proposed that the Government declares the Karamoja, a disaster region for international intervention and divert the rest of the resources to other regions.
To ensure constant food supply in the country, the stakeholders asked the Government to revamp national food reserves to store food during bumper harvest, for future use, especially in times of food scarcity.
Tonny Ojok, the in-charge of resilience and livelihood at world Vision Uganda, said Uganda should put in place policies to address food insecurity in the country.
“We have a pattern of every year, where we have a section of the country going hungry, why is it that we grow a lot of food but at the same time have people going hungry? We ask Parliament to bring a policy on food national food reserves to ensure that food is kept for the bad seasons to ensure that there is access to food all year round for families,” Ojok said.
World Vision also asked the Government to increase the number of agricultural extensional workers to match the number of farmers.
At the Press conference, the stakeholders further appealed to the Government to consider empowering women in the agricultural sector for food security.
“If we are going to address issues of food and nutrition security, we need to bring women on board, majority of women in this country, don’t have power over land, the resource that we use most in the country to grow the food that we eat,” Agnes Taaka ( Bugiri district) said.
She added that: “For instance, in Karamoja, a rustler will choose to sale cows to buy guns, while a woman would prefer buying food for the children but because they lack the power, they will look on as the man is buying guns and they have nothing to do”.
Uganda will next week join the rest of the world, to mark World Food Day, under the theme; leaving no one behind”.