Senior Presidential Advisor on Busoga in charge of Poverty Alleviation Florence Mutyabule has warned of a looming food crisis in the Busoga sub-region arising from poor land management.
She says Busoga is threatened with food insecurity because food production has greatly reduced. Mutyabule attributed this to land fragmentation especially by children after the death of parents, poor enterprise selection, lack of training and over concentration on sugarcane growing.
“Some families have devoted their entire pieces of land to sugarcane growing leaving children and mothers with no space to grow food and necessary vegetables needed for maintaining balanced diet” she said as she opened this year’s 3-day farming symposium organized by Busoga Farmers Resource Center at Nsinze village [Namutumba district]. The farm which has various land management models has fish, poultry, vegetables, citrus, diary enterprises among others and is being run by a local pastor Dawson Musasizi.
Mutyabule noted that globally, 51million children below 2 years suffer stunting, a situation where they are too short for their age due to malnutrition. She said to avoid under nutrition in children, efforts should be made to also address malnutrition in adolescent girls and women. The SPA said that in Uganda according to UNICEF, there are growing concerns over nutrition across the country with only 15% of 6month-2year old children consuming minimum acceptable diet as measured by diversity and frequency.
She says malnutrition in mothers puts women and new born babies at risk with UNICEF warning that inadequate nutrition during girls’ and women’s lives can lead to weakened immunity, poor cognitive development and an increased risk of life-threatening complications including during pregnancy and child birth.
Mutyabule noted that such complications have irreversible consequences for the children’s survival, growth and future learning capacity.
“In Busoga for example, the issue of malnutrition remains a challenge. Not only do our parents feed children on unbalanced diet, but also many families generally lack food for survival. Parents therefore need to be taught on how to feed their children and mothers” She said.
The SPA welcomed this year’s symposium’s theme ‘FOOD CRISIS’ saying it is timely as 16.4million Ugandans according to WFP face insufficient food consumption. She says region-wide, the highest levels of food insecurity according to statistics were observed in Eastern and Northern with Karamoja taking the lead. Mutyabule says research shows that 45% of Karamojongs face high levels of acute food insecurity with 8% being classified as Emergence and 37% are classified as crisis and attributed this to climate-related problems, localized insecurity among others, adding that of all the nine districts of Karamoja, Kaabong has the highest rates of Malnutrition standing at 18%.
She encouraged participants in this training who have sizeable pieces of land to embrace the president’s 4-acre model now that they will have acquired the necessary skills. She also asked them to participate in the various government programs including PDM, emyooga among others, saying such programs are meant to improve on people’s incomes and productivity.
“I know Uganda is endowed with good weather but let us not forget the issue of irrigation if we are to defeat the impact of drought on our crops. Harvesting rain water should be a priority to all of us so that our farms are not affected by drought” she counseled and summed up her speech by quoting Genesis 26:1-5.
Meanwhile, Musasizi says the training is aimed at equipping farmers with good farming skills and also addressing the issue of negative mindset towards farming.
“Our vision is to make this place a center of pilgrimage where people come to learn farming. We see some people going to visit places [pilgrims] where they don’t even gain anything but we want this to become a center of faith and work. This is a place where faith and work collaborate, hence the reason we have a special place for prayer” he said.
The guest speaker, also a commercial farmer Pastor-Apostle Alex Mitala, challenged the flock not to concentrate on prayers and refuse to use their hands to work. He urged all clergies to teach their flock how to be productive instead of keeping them in churches all the time. The symposium ends on Saturday and has participants from various regions of Uganda and East Africa.