Uganda has today joined the rest of the countries to celebrate World Food Day as most families across have continued to stay hungry.
Food has become scarce and expensive for the poor to afford. The Food and Agricultural Organisation and IFAD have been empowering small holder farmers, who form the majority of agricultural sector to increase food production.
It day is being marked with the theme: Change the future of migration, invest in food security and rural development. Farmers say last year’s prolonged drought affected food production and hence no food at the table for families to feed on.
One such family is Ms Grace Acia, who said: “It is difficult to feed three times a day. We have to forego breakfast and lunch because we prefer to eat at night only because food has become expensive to buy. The children are the most affected because some of them get malnourished.”
In Uganda, the Ministry of Agriculture at the beginning of this year, estimated that about 2.5 million people faced hunger. But in West Nile district, the theme leaves the stakeholders and farmers at a glaring point as the influx of South Sudan refugees has caused more mayhem on food crisis.
Now, the World Food Program is unable to find adequate food to feed to the over 800,000 South Sudan refugees living in Arua, Moyo, Yumbe, Moyo and Adjumani districts.
One of the farmers, Ms Likico Lillian, of Ambala village in Vurra Sub-county, said: “Sincerely if people can use tractors then we shall have plenty of food. But here some people have vast land and they cannot use hoes to open the land and besides hiring tractors costs about Shs 100,000 which is better to hire people to till land at Shs 10,000 for an acre.”
She said she rents an acre of land at Shs 150,000 which he said is expensive and limits her to the small portion of land, hence affecting productivity. Uganda’s low agricultural productivity is a result of a lack of appropriate technologies and supports for the rural farmers especially in the sub-region.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says cassava remains a staple food for about 800 million people worldwide. FAO says since 2000, cassava production has increased by an estimated 100 million tones especially in Africa and Asia.
Due to the high demand that cassava offers this has given the opportunity for farmers especially in tropical zones to increase production in order to earn income and boost food supply. Many households though still depend on subsistence farming of the crop with few doing commercial farming.
A youth displays some of his products for sale.
FAO recommends that yields in Africa, especially, could be markedly improved if farmers had access to mineral fertilizer at a reasonable price. Inter-cropping grain legumes and mulching the residues of legumes and native weeds, boosts root yields.
Overall, poverty in rural areas is striking by isolation, inadequate infrastructure and the consequent lack of access to goods and services. The road network is in very poor condition and access to safe water is minimal. Rural poverty is also closely related to lack of access to health care and education.
Research Officer at NARO’s Abi Zardi, Mr Emmanuel Odama, said they have been training farmers on rice growing with support from Japanese government to increase production and fight hunger in families.
“We have been able to provide farmers with 3,800 kilograms of Nerica 4 seeds and also introduced them to new technologies. Although last year’s drought affected us, farmers have been able to produce food that could be able to feed some families,” he said.