UCU agriculture participates in dialogue on food safety in Uganda
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2022/09/ucu-agriculture-participates-in-dialogue-on-food-safety-in-uganda/
By Israel Kisakye
In a country where 76% (World Bank, 2019) of the population lives in rural areas, where harsh droughts and damaging floods have diminished crops, causing starvation and death in some northern areas (Karajoma, 2022), dialogue about what is best for the land in that country – Uganda – is important. Action from that conversation is critical.
Aligned with a goal to serve the community surrounding it, Uganda Christian University (UCU) is front and center in this discussion. One example is the UCU Faculty of Agricultural Sciences moderation of a June 30, 2022, national dialogue on the status of the agrochemical sector in Uganda. Held at the Silver Springs Hotel in the Kampala suburban neighborhood of Bugolobi, the topic was Innovation for Improved Management of Agrochemicals for Better Agriculture, Food Safety and Trade in Uganda.
Dr. Rosemary Bulyaba, dean, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, said the discourse was organized by CropLife Uganda to help improve the internal processes and systems of agricultural production in Uganda. CropLife Uganda is a national membership association of manufacturers, importers and distributors of Crop Protection Products and a leading advocate for the plant science industry in the country.
Dr. Bulyaba observed that when damaging pesticides and fertilizers get into the environment, they affect the community and crop productivity.
“If farmers use inputs that are not proper, they also affect their yields and that is a call to all of us to respond to the issues of food insecurity,” she said.
Dr. Rosemary Bulyaba, UCU Faculty of Agricultural Sciences dean, talks about food safety.
Dr. Bulyaba added that agrochemical study exposes a number of grey areas that need further research. “One such area is lack of statistics on how much agrochemicals are in our food and how they are affecting our bodies,” she said.
In the same vein, Solomon Seruwo, an associate of the agro-chemical distributing company, Bukoola Chemical Industries, and chairman of CropLife Uganda, advised all those in the private sector to be united with passion to improve the level of agricultural production in Uganda.
“Food safety is critical in Uganda like elsewhere,” Sseruwu said. “In Uganda, agriculture contributes 24% of the GDP; 54% of the exports; 70% of the employment and 40% raw materials.”
Sseruwu observed that the country cannot be safe if food safety is not prioritized.
The participants also discussed the legal frameworks providing guidelines of reducing risks associated with pesticides and to improve trade and agriculture. Some of the guidelines included harmonizing the East African Community (EAC) guidelines for the conduct and reporting of efficacy trials. The participants urged all stakeholders to harmonize the EAC guidelines for data requirements for registration of pest control products.
“At the regional level of EAC, a number of guidelines have been developed and the aim of their development is to reduce risks associated with pesticides, improving trade, safeguarding crops, environmental, human and animal health,” said Christabel Tumwebaze, a representative of the Feed the Future organization working to end global hunger.
Paul Mwambu, a Ugandan commissioner in the Ministry of Agriculture, animal industry and fisheries noted that there is need to fast track the regional harmonization process for pesticides if the region is to ensure timely access to safe and effective pesticides at reduced cost and an incentive for manufacturers.
In the background of the agrochemical discussion and understanding of how climate change is impacting the health and safety of East African people are data about human impacts. In a brief to Parliament on July 14, the Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Esther Anyakun Davinia, said that 517,800 people representing 41% of the population in Karamoja sub-region had been at the risk of food shortage between March and July. Some people in Karamoja and Lango have died due to lack of food.
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