By Joseph Ekol
Activists fear that Ugandans could suffer serious famine if farmers don’t embrace the traditional culture of food storage.
They say farmers are now taken up by scientifically modified seeds that are planted once, harvested and sold off and its grains cannot be preserved and replanted.
Patrick Ogwang, the chairperson Lango Agro Input Dealers Association, said most farmers in the greater northern and eastern region of the country today prefer hybrid seeds that are scientifically modified in laboratories whose growth involves the use of pesticides and herbicides.
“Open pollinated varieties like millet, sim sim, climbing beans are all disappearing, all these are being pushed away in the name of commercial agriculture,” Ogwang explained.
According to Ogwang, these hybrid varieties face the threat of climate change, floods, and heavy rains, unreliable weather conditions among other challenges.
He appealed to farmers to embrace the traditional culture of keeping foods in the granary because it removes oxygen from grains and enables them to last longer to withstand famine.
“Agricultural practitioners and the seed breeders should start multiplying the indigenous food varieties so that we don’t run short of food in the country,” he urged.
Christine Ogwang of Eden Rock Farm Based at Amuca in Lira City, observed that famine would become history in the greater northern region could resume the organic way of planting and avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides and embrace organic fertilisers.
“The local food varieties, fruits that are neglected and underutilised are very good for the health, therefore they should be preserved and maintained,” Ogwang explained.
Patrick Olinga, the project officer in charge agribusiness in the Anglican Diocese of Teso, said to ensure sustainability of food system in the region, they have started promoting the growing of indigenous foods.
In addition to that, Olinga said they are also promoting the local seed bank (granaries) to ensure the community around can embrace these food preservative methods that are disappearing and they begin to practice them.
The food activists said this during the launch of the Green Action Week, an event organised by Oxfam, PELUM Uganda, and other partners to enhance the management and sharing of neglected and underutilised plant species among school communities.
The launch which was also to enable farmers to showcase the local food varieties and to create awareness to the Lango community to utilise and preserve the indigenous seeds for the sustainability of food consumption in the country, was held at Lira Town College playground.
The event attracted local farmers from across the North and Eastern region, traditional leaders as well as students from selected schools in the region.
PHOTO CAPTION: Christine Ogwang, a farmers displaying indigenous foods spices at the launch of Green Action Week at Lira Town College. Photo by Joseph Ekol