Small-scale Farmers’ Vivid Contribution to the Development of the National Agroecology Strategy (NAS)
Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, PELUM Uganda, ACSA and NOGAMU in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) are developing a national strategy for scaling up agroecology in Uganda. This is being done through consultative meetings at both national and regional levels. The meetings attracted participants from different regions in Uganda including District Local Governments officials, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and ministry, private sector actors and small-scale farmers.
The first meeting was conducted on the 3rd of March 2022 in Kampala and it attracted over 100 participants. This was attended by the Permanent Secretary (PS) for MAAIF who was represented by Commissioner John Okiron that highlighted the need to conserve the environment and biodiversity that can only be done through promoting agroecology. To him, this calls for the development of the National Agroecology Strategy. “The NAS will help to promote natural resources”. The Permanent Secretary MAAIF added.
This was followed by the regional meetings in Gulu, Kabarole, Mukono and Mbale. On 18th May 2022, ESAFF Uganda and partners including PELUM Uganda, IIRR, NOGAMU and ACSA organized the Northern regional consultative meeting in Gulu attended by 68 stakeholders. On 27th May 2022, the regional consultative meeting for the Western region was conducted in Kabarole district attended by 82 participants. The consultative meeting for central region was conducted on 7th June 2022 and it was attended by 123 people. The Eastern regional consultative meeting took place in Mbale attended by 115 participants.
In the various regional consultative meetings on the National Agroecology Strategy (NAS) development, small-scale farmers who are the food producers and involved in the production processes were well represented and their views were taken into the National Agroecology Strategy (NAS) in order to ensure that Agroecology is up scaled in Uganda.
According to the National Chairperson ESAFF Uganda, there is need to understand ecosystems and roles of constituent components through participatory research and aligning food systems to diverse ecosystems. “To me, I believe that being inclusive and participatory in all food systems and its value chains will help to upscale agroecology in Uganda” Mr. Hakim said. The National Chairpersonadded that there is need to bring on board different stakeholders like the cultural and religious institutions in the development of the strategy.
Small-scale farmers during the consultative meetings suggested the need for government to provide an enabling environment for all stakeholders including small-scale farmers and the stakeholders should walk the talk, and not just stop at talking about agroecology if it is to be up scaled in Uganda.
During the consultative meetings, small-scale farmers generated the following key issues in the development of the National Agroecology Strategy;
1. Setting up manufacturing centres for bio-fertilizers to reduce the cost of production and upscaling of agroecology.
2. Awareness and sensitization of the masses on the benefits of agroecology.
3. Enforcement of protection of natural environment in the agroecology strategy being developed.
4. Increasing public financing for agroecology in the national budget.
5. Setting up agroecology centres at national and local levels to scale up agroecology.
6. Investment in value addition and creation of market linkages of agroecological products
7. Break down or simplify definitions and terms in the National Agroecology Strategy.
8. Documentation/profiling of indigenous knowledge and input in the National Agroecology Strategy.
9. Deliberate inclusion of youth and women in Agroecology strategy under development.
In conclusion we believe the National Agroecology Strategy will depict the agroecological practices and knowledge that will shape actions of small-scale farmers and other stakeholders involved in the agriculture value chain. This in the end will lead to increased production and productivity in the farming communities. The strategy will therefore need the involvement of all stakeholders in the implementation for its success.