Ugandan Farmers' Demand for Biotech IntensifiesOctober 24, 2018
Farmers across Uganda have continued to mount pressure on local leaders and government to allow them to grow biotech crops on their farms. This was during a series of agricultural biotechnology and biosafety awareness activities organized by Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC), together with other biotech stakeholders between June and October 2018. These workshops brought together extension services, farmers, community, religious and cultural leaders.
Mr. Deogratius Eteru, a retired civil servant and farmer leader from eastern Uganda, expressed disappointment over Uganda's Parliament for delaying to enact a legislation that would allow them to access disease resistant cassava varieties. "We have been waiting for the biotechnology law since 2012 so that we grow disease resistant biotech cassava. Why should we continue to grow disease prone cassava varieties yet we know scientists at NARO have superior varieties?" Mr. Eteru noted.
During Uganda's Independence Day celebrations in central Uganda, farmers who stopped by the UBIC tent consistently asked why they cannot access the disease resistant and drought tolerant crops. They were not interested in the process, but in the products. In another related activity with Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE), the largest umbrella body for farmers, farmer leaders promised to work with NARO and UBIC to develop a more structured engagement on agricultural biotechnology with the various UNFFE networks across Uganda.
The president of UNFFE, Dr. Dick Kamuganga, noted that such an arrangement would make farmer leaders lend their support to the voices of scientists. He explicitly offered the support of his trained team in pushing for the passage of the Biosafety Act 2017. World Food Day celebrations in the semi-arid areas of the northeastern region provided an opportunity to educate the populace about modern agricultural biotechnology and the importance of regulatory systems. Farmers look forward to accessing crop varieties that are drought resistant.
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