The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has urged Uganda to embrace agroecosystems to guarantee sustainable food systems.
Kennedy Igbokwe, the project manager, climate change and resilience at FAO said agro-ecological approaches can enhance resilience among small farmers.
“Many studies reveal that small farmers who follow agro-ecological practices cope with, and even prepare for climate change. Through managing on-farm biodiversity and soil cover and by enhancing soil organic matter, agro ecological farmers minimize crop failure under extreme climatic events,” he explained.
Igbokwe made the remarks during the launch of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda five-year strategic plan for the period 2017 to 2021 recently at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
Igbokwe noted that global agricultural production is already being affected by changes in rainfall and temperature thus compromising food security.
“Official statistics predict that small-scale farmers in developing countries will be, especially vulnerable to climate change because of their geographic exposure, low incomes, reliance on agriculture and limited capacity to seek alternative livelihoods,” he said.
Igbokwe explained that although it is true that extreme climatic events can severely impact small farmers, available data is just a gross approximation at understanding the heterogeneity of small scale agriculture, ignoring the myriad of strategies that thousands of small farmers have used, and still use, to deal with climatic variability.
“Observations of agricultural performance after extreme climatic events reveal that resilience to climate disasters is closely linked to the level of on-farm biodiversity,” he explained.
He added that diversified farms with soils rich in organic matter reduce vulnerability and make farms more resilient in the long-term.
“Reviving traditional management systems, combined with the use of agro ecological principles, represents a robust path to enhancing the resilience in agriculture and food security,” he said.
He noted that for more than 70 years, FAO has been working on its core mandate to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, to reduce rural poverty, and to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable.