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Wednesday,December 12,2018 00:08 AM

Farmers advocate for conservation of indigenous seed

By Arnest Tumwesige

Added 9th October 2018 12:12 PM

Through their combative efforts, the farmers have developed a community seed security system where they plant and distribute amongst themselves. They have also introduced field farm schools.

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Okello (R,) the Omoro district Chairman touring farmers’ stalls during the Food fair on the indigenous crops. Photos by Arnest Tumwesige

Through their combative efforts, the farmers have developed a community seed security system where they plant and distribute amongst themselves. They have also introduced field farm schools.

FARMING - As fear rises amongst farmers about the possible extinction of indigenous seeds, efforts towards their conservation have been stepped up with farmers’ groups at the forefront.

Through their combative efforts, the farmers have developed a community seed security system where they plant and distribute amongst themselves. They have also introduced field farm schools.

Vicky Lokwiya, 64, from Iriaga parish Laroo division in Gulu municipality said, the intention is not only to have high quality seeds but also for the community to learn from the farm schools.

They encourage none use of chemicals with emphasis being put on use of  local methods to kill pests and diseases so that the seeds are kept in their original form.

Lokwiya, who is also the chairperson of Gulu district Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESSAFF)-Uganda gave an example of how they deal with pests like Fall army worms which have recently caused maize farmers huge losses. She said they use ash mixed in water and left to ferment for four days before sprinkling it on the maize plant.

Equally, Ayiwala farmers group led by Margret Masudio, 39, from Pakele sub-county in Adjumani district is actively engaged in collective bulk sells of their traditional produce harvest.

Last year, the 30 members sold 2,000 kilograms of groundnuts but Masudio is quick to add that their focus is to start value addition.

She however expressed concern that fighting against improved seeds is hard because farmers prefer them because they have higher production rates than the traditional ones which have high food nutrients.

“I would love to see the Government intervening to save these seeds by introducing seed banks at regional level so that farmers can decide on which ones to go for,” Masudio, also a member of ESSAFF added.

Apparently, there are 20 farmer groups in Adjumani district with 700 farmers who Masudio said have embraced the campaign to conserve the traditional seeds.

 okwiya the  hairperson of ulu district carrying an indigenous cassava root tuber during the food fair in ulu  Lokwiya, the ESSAFF Chairperson of Gulu district carrying an indigenous cassava root tuber during the food fair in Gulu

 


This campaign which begun in 2008 is being spear headed by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda under its partner organisations of ESSAFF-Uganda and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) Uganda.

Erick Kizito, the programme officer at Sustainable farming system programme said if traditional seeds are not conserved, they are bound to get extinct.

“They have a strong social-economic value that farmers can realize. There’s a social element which is linked to culture, diversity and germ plasma,” Kizito noted.

The officer called on scientists to come out and engage their knowledge in how the traditional seeds can be conserved alongside the improved ones. He also encouraged the Government to come up with a policy that specifically targets the local seeds conservation.

“There’s a tendency by the Government to support commercialization, which encourages farmers to opt for improved seeds which have high yields and eventually our traditional seeds are nowhere,” he added.

Douglas Peter Okello, the Omoro district chairperson commended PELUM for coming up with the Right to food project, adding that in Omoro, they have made it compulsory for every house hold to grow two acres of cassava and other food crops.

Okello added, as leaders in Acholi sub region, they have agreed that all seedlings being delivered by the Government under Operation Wealth Creation be subjected to germination tests to save farmers from planting dormant seeds.

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