A Lot of Uganda’s Food on Sale is Contaminated, the Expert Discloses.

June 14, 2022
Sir Bob George, Senior Agricultural Officer for Food, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda speaking during the continental convening on African Agroecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Markets in Munyonyo, Kampala Uganda.
By Misheck Nyirongo in Kampala, Uganda

The Senior Agricultural Officer for Food Security in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries said the recent investigations reveal that most of the food on the local market in Uganda is contaminated with chemicals.

Speaking during continental convening on African Agroecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Markets in Munyonyo, Kampala Uganda, Sir Bob George said, “There is a lot of contaminated food on the market. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a specific consumer to be careful with what they are taking in, because the body is important. The body is what we need to produce the food, so we need to take good care of it.”

He said because the global population has increased, yet the land for agricultural production remains static, farmers and researchers have resorted to synthetic ways of producing more food from the same piece of land using chemicals.

Sir George Bob said that the practice has led to the depletion of soil nutrients and multiplication of diseases- causing organisms, which are dangerous to the health of customers.

“We have a lot chemical in our blood because the food we consume is contaminated. We have to work together to promote sustainable safe farming methods. Otherwise, we shall be wiped out,” he cautioned.

Sir George Bob said agroecology, offers a path to modernization of African agriculture that will reconcile increased agricultural production and sustainable management of ecosystems.

Sir. Bob George, Senior Agricultural Officer for Food, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda said “We have many policies that promote the agroecology movement. Our agricultural sector strategic plan addresses issues of sustainable agriculture of which agroecology is a component. As a ministry of agriculture, we are now in the process of developing a national agroecology strategy that will provide a clear pathway on the direction upon which agroecology can strive in”

Dr. Chris Macoloo, the Board Chairperson the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) said the quality of food largely depend on how it is produced. He said the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides compromises the quality of food.

Dr. Macoloo called for the return to old African ecological practices, which he said are safe and sustainable, both in the short and long term.

While presiding over the opening of the first trailblazing three-day convening held at Speke Resort, in Munyonyo Rt. Hon Dr. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs said there is need for more advocacy to interest farmers and consumers into agroecology farming.

 Rt. Hon Dr. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga said there is also need to add value to organic products and also empower young people to engage in agriculture as a business. “There are so many opportunities in agriculture here because we have a lot of land which is idle. If young people were empowered to exploit this land as a business, we would increase food security, safety and reduce joblessness among the young people,” she noted.

Rt. Hon Dr. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs making key note speech during the official opening of the continental convening on African Agroecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Markets in Munyonyo, Kampala Uganda.

And Alexander Kingenthal, Policy Officer at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) said successful enterprises have to change the way they use the land. “The cries we have today is a clear indication that business cannot remain as usual, because we are facing an imminent food challenge,” he said.

The gathering was the first of its kind, with the goal of providing a platform for agroecological and like-minded stakeholders to discuss and define the future of agroecological entrepreneurship and territorial markets in Africa in order to enhance investment and policy changes.

Daniel Moss, Agroecology Fund Co-Director, said “Donors from across the world are supporting the African Agroecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Markets Convening. Why? For too long, donors have invested in industrial agriculture with poor results for livelihoods, health, ecosystems and human rights. A radical shift is underway. Donors are joining agroecology movements and entrepreneurs in subscribing to agroecological principles and investing in truly equitable and sustainable food systems.”

Dr. Million Belay, General Coordinator of AFSA, delivered a keynote remark about the contextual background, objectives, and anticipated outcomes of the AAEC2022, saying, “Agroecology ensures that food producers and communities, particularly rural communities and women farmers, have the ability and resources to continue feeding and nourishing their families in difficult times. It is time for African governments, as well as the donor and investor communities, to focus more on developing territorial markets and supporting agroecological enterprises in order to ensure that people build resilient futures despite the many crises they are facing.”

At a time when the world faces major risks to food security, the global community is starting to reach an agreement on the need to make our food systems more sustainable. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the flaws and inability of global industrial food systems to meet local consumers’ needs.

Simultaneously, the pandemic has revealed the enormous opportunity to amplify the importance and resilience of shorter supply chains and agroecological enterprises and markets to withstand global crises, as well as demonstrate how smallholder farmers producing agroecological food can meet the population’s food and nutrition needs.

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa’s research has identified a vibrant emergence of agroecological entrepreneurs across Africa engaging in the marketing and distribution of agroecological products and inputs. This convening testifies to their numbers, dynamism, and importance. These products include: fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals and pulses as well as value-added food products in addition to biofertilizers and biopesticides.  

Representing agroecological entrepreneurs Ms. Sylvia Banda of Sylva Food Solution in Zambia said, “I work with smallholder farmers to promote neglected and underused crops. I own two factories in which we process their produce, package it to suitable standards, and sell it in huge stores. So far, we have trained over 25,000 smallholder farmers, 90 percent of them are women. There is an increasing chance for smallholder farmers to engage in agroecology, but we need help sensitising the public and obtaining financial assistance to go further.”

Seizing the opportunity of the convening, AFSA also officially launched two books, AFRICAN TERRITORIAL MARKETS: Opportunities & Challenges for Transition to Agroecology DIGITAL MARKETING AND AGROECOLOGY: What Role Digital Marketing Play in The Transition to Agroecology & Sustainable Food System?

After a full day of group work and plenary deliberations participants agreed to:

·         Increasing the recognition of African agroecological entrepreneurs and territorial markets by informing and supporting agroecology movements, donors/investors, service providers, and governments. 

·         Building momentum for formulating policy recommendations and initiating new programs. 

·         Creating and sustaining a community of support for an enabling business environment for African agroecological entrepreneurs and increase demand, i.e., through fostering territorial markets. 

 The closing statement of Hon. Bwino Fred Kyakulaga, Minister of State for Agriculture, on the last day of African Agroecological Entrepreneurships and Territorial Markets Convening 2022 reminded the audience that Agroecology has always been the past and that we should strive to make it the practice of the future.

“I accepted the request to come and formally end the convening on the condition that I would be referred to as a Champion of Agroecology and promised government backing to work on the restoration of agroecology in Uganda,” he stated in his concluding remarks.

The three-day gathering included a variety of activities such as field visits to agroecological enterprises and territorial markets, agroecological entrepreneurship exhibition from various countries on best practices and ongoing activities, as well as panel discussions and group discussions that delve deep into territorial markets, AEE support systems, enabling policies, and consumer and citizen participation.

The convening gathering brought together actors from over 30 countries, with over 130 persons in attendance in person and 80 virtual participants, with the goal of providing a platform for agroecological and like-minded stakeholders to discuss and define the future of agroecological entrepreneurship and territorial markets in Africa in order to enhance investment and policy changes. 

It is now clear that, investing in agroecology for expanding agroecological enterprises and supporting territorial markets is the most reliable option for achieving a fundamental food system transformation that supports healthy and thriving local food economies and ecologically resilient small holder farming systems. 

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