Farmers have asked government to come up with policies that will encourage usage of indigenous seeds for crop production and multiplication.
This, they argue, would help them avoid counterfeit seeds flooding the local market. Under their umbrella body Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF- Uganda), farmers say the government should also support local seeds preservation.
Mario Mungu- Acel, the ESAFF-Uganda national chairperson, says: “Seed dealers are disappointing us with seeds that don’t germinate and are not drought-resistant. What we want is that government gives us technocrats who can advise farmers on agro-ecological farming if we are to fight hunger.”
Acel, who was speaking to farmers from different districts during a symposium on ecological farming in Mukono recently, added that indigenous seeds were still relevant and able to deliver food sovereignty in Uganda.
The symposium was aimed at educating farmers on how to improve their yields by preserving own seeds and making own fertilizers. Hakim Baliraine, the treasurer of Alliance for Food Sovereignty Africa (AFSA), said government policies favour commercial seed manufacturers yet they have limited varieties of hybrid cereals, commercial vegetables and are not interested in local seeds preservation.
“We appeal to government to invest more in small-scale food producers for food security and food sovereignty instead of focusing on big investors. We are already feeding a huge amount of people, using our smaller plots of land,” Baliraine said.
He said although small scale farmers contributed 80 per cent of food in the country, they were marginalised and denied chance to participate in national, regional, and global policy-making processes.
In Uganda, less than 15 per cent of farmers use certified seeds although the country has over 20 certified seed companies. Certification does not guarantee genuineness of the seeds. Many farmers have been sold fake seeds, which have failed to germinate.
Irene Nakijoba, a maize farmer from Kisoga in Mukono district, said she had been practicing agro-ecological farming for over 20 years and she has no regrets.
“I make my own seeds and fertilizers using the simple available materials; before, I used to buy certified seeds but they used to fail me,” Nakijoba said.
To Beatrice Kasigazi, a farmer from Mubende district, said most certified seeds, especially those freely given out by National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) and Operation Wealth Creation (OPW) programme were not germinating in some areas.