“Indigenous and traditional food and seed systems, preserving agricultural biodiversity, ending Hunger”.
During the Rwenzori Regional indigenous/ Traditional Food and seed Fair Conducted at Balya Road Green Belt, Fort Portal. The Fort Portal Food Change Lab 8th-10th Oct 2018.
FORT PORTAL: Farmers in the Rwenzori and Bunyoro sub regions in Western Uganda have asked government to set up seed banks to ensure availability and quality seeds. “In order to protect the survival of traditional/indigenous crop and seed varieties and secure our own healthy future population, we the farmers of the Rwenzori and Bunyoro sub regions recommend that Government and civil society establish seed banks for the indigenous/traditional seed varieties at District level to ensure availability and quality seed” said Ms Anakuya Mary Gorreti from Kagadi District. She was presenting a position paper on behalf of farmers at the end of a 3-day Rwenzori indigenous/traditional food and seed fair in Fort Portal town, Kabarole District.
The “Indigenous/traditional food crops play a role in enhancing food security and rural transformation because they can withstand harsh climatic conditions, pests and diseases and require minimal inputs inproduction”.fair was organized by Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), SATNET, Ile de Paix and PELUM Uganda in conjunction with Fort Portal Municipal council and Kabarole District Local Government to commemorate the World Food day. Ms Gorreti reasoned that indigenous/traditional food crops play a role in enhancing food security and rural transformation because they can withstand harsh weather conditions, pests and diseases and require minimal inputs in production.
The farmers also appealed to civil society organisations and farmer associations to profile traditional crops and seeds existing in the region. The farmers also asked government to avail land with a natural set up in each region where farmers can grow and preserve indigenous/traditional seed. “We appeal to government through NARO to provide land like 500 acres for setting up demonstration gardens of indigenous crop varieties for research, seed multiplication and preservation” said Ms Robinah Bwita, a farmer in Kabarole District.
Mr Julius Mwanga, the Executive Director of KRC said the indigenous local foods and seeds are very important for our economy in terms of nutrition and food security. Speaking as Chief Guest, Kabarole District Chairman, Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga observed that “hybrid seeds have not been as nutritious as our indigenous traditional foods and seeds therefore we should protect and preserve our foods” He said if people don’t eat nutritious foods they will spend most of their life in hospitals. He said malnutrition is still high where stunting among the children less than 5 years is at 42 percent for Western Uganda.
Hon. Rwabuhinga committed to take forward the farmers’ position paper to the District Council for follow up and implementation. He later commissioned 7 food ambassadors from the Rwenzori region whose role is to advocate for healthy diets in the region.
The fair was rich in indigenous seeds and planting materials, food festival of Ugandan indigenous traditional foods from all regions of the country prepared by the Orugali group, a nutritionclinic, heated inter school debates on traditional seed and food versus improved seed and food.
Participants included District political Leaders, councillors, Fort Portal Municipality, members of the Coalition of the Willing, BD Alliance partners, NARO, Food Ambassadors, Farmers, herbalists, schools, agroforestry experts, members, Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, SMEs, institutions and individuals promoting cultural heritage, traditional medicine and local innovations.