ESAFF Uganda understands that farming thrives when it works with local ecosystems, for example, improving soil and plant quality through available biomass and biodiversity, rather than battling nature with chemical inputs. Agroecology which is the application of ecological principles to agricultural systems and practices seek to improve food yields for balanced nutrition, enhance healthy ecosystems and build on ancestral knowledge and customs. Agroecology integrates ecological and social concepts in the design and management of agricultural production and food systems while optimizing interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment hence addressing the social aspects of a sustainable and fair food system. Many studies have shown that Agroecology has the potential of sustainably increasing food sovereignty while conserving biodiversity and respecting indigenous farmers’ knowledge and innovations.
Our Actions in Promoting Agroecology
Building a stronger Agroecology farmers movement
ESAFF Uganda acknowledges that Agroecology is under threat from industrial agriculture which is one of the key contributors to global warming and consequent climate disasters worldwide. Small-scale farmers one year after the International Year of Family Farmers (IYFF) formed the Family Farmers Agroecology Movement (FFAM) with a vision of building a vibrant, prosperous, healthy and resilient small scale farming communities thriving in sustaining Agroecological farming systems. The Movement has organized information sharing events, community sensitization meetings, built linkages with like-minded organizations, campaigned for favorable laws and policies.
Agroecology Schools and demonstration centers
ESAFF Uganda promotes Agroecology training in Agroecology Schools and demonstration centers based on the farmer-to-farmer methodology. The idea is that Agroecological small-scale farmers in the community are the best teachers to train other farmers and share his knowledge and experience. This methodology contrasts with the top-down extension services through which institutions and multinationals develop and promote unsustainable technologies. The training in Agroecology Schools and demonstration centers is conducted in the local language to ensure a good knowledge exchange platform where experiences are also documented.
Agroecology Clubs in schools
With a drive to upscale Agroecology, small-scale farmers innovated Agroecology Clubs in some schools that their children attend. Currently ESAFF Uganda is running Agroecology Clubs in 4 districts of Amuria, Adjumani, Amuru, Gulu and Kasese. These Agroecology Clubs give youth an opportunity to learn a lot about Agroecology given the current curriculum that highly promotes modern agriculture.
Climate-resilient Agroecological farming techniques
Industrial agriculture is promoted as a suitable food production system in Uganda. Currently, it's characterized by large-scale monoculture, heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides mostly because of the threat of climate change and the need to feed the ever-growing population. ESAFF Uganda promotes the adaptation to the increased variability in weather patterns through the adoption of ecological farming practices which are climate-resilient as well as productive. ESAFF Uganda has built small-scale farmers capacities in Sere re, Amuru, Amuria, Gulu, Adjumani, Pader, Apac and Arua district in understanding causes and effects of climate change and also adapt to small scales climate adaptation technologies such as drip irrigation, water harvesting, and good farming agronomic techniques.
Influencing favorable policies for Agroecology
For so many years ESAFF Uganda has dedicated time and resources to tracking the formulation processes of Uganda's policies and laws. ESAFF Uganda has been part of challenging policies, and laws like the Genetic Engineering Act 2018, EAC Seed and Plant Varieties Bill, Extension Policy, Seed Policy, National Organic Agriculture Policy, National Agroecology Strategy etc. that has elements that override the seed and food sovereignty of small-scale farmers and also affects the promoting and upscale of Agroecology. ESAFF Uganda also added voices in pushing for the adoption of the UN Declaration on Peasants Rights and People working in Rural Areas which favors Agroecological farming. ESAFF Uganda has organized many policy dialogues, media engagements, learning tours among others to create space for small-scale farmers to influence policies and laws at the local, national and regional level.
Celebrating organic farming and products:
ESAFF Uganda believes that organic agriculture plays a curial role in protecting food sovereignty and improving livelihoods of small-scale farmers especially women in rural areas. Each year ESAFF Uganda and partners celebrate the National Organic Week (NOW) in different districts. NOW involves events like press conferences, radio talk shows, Women Community Dialogues on Organic Agriculture, National Dialogue on Organic Agriculture and Organic Food Fair, School Quizzes and Public Awareness on Organic Farming practices. The week celebrates and popularizes organic foods, products and services as well as creating a platform where farmers can dialogue on the challenges impacting organic farming for a multi-stakeholder responsiveness for scaling up organic agriculture.
Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators
The principal objective of the online Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators is to build a network of journalists and communicators around Uganda and Africa working with small-scale farmers to contribute to the national and continental transition to Agroecology through disseminating the right information.
This course is part of ESAFF Uganda’s actions on upscaling Agroecology in Uganda to achieve equitable and sustainable food systems as per the FAO’s Scaling up Agroecology Initiative.