Today, Uganda joins the rest of the world to mark the World Food Day. The day, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is being marked in Tororo.
This yearâ€™s World Food Day comes at a time when Uganda and the world are facing enormous challenges as far as food and agriculture is concerned.
In Uganda, at least seven million people are facing food insecurity, according to FAO statistics, with some areas of Karamoja facing hunger.
Malnutrition is rising, while at the same time the share of agricultural production is dropping. According to the latest budget, the agriculture sector grew by a negligible 0.4% in 2007, compared to an average 4% in previous years.
Food prices have been escalating all over the world. In some countries like Ethiopia, more than half of the population is facing famine. The underlying danger to food security is climate change. It is not surprising that the theme of todayâ€™s commemorations is â€œWorld Food Security, the challenges of climate change.â€
The dropping water level of Lake Victoria is also a result of climate change, a shift in temperatures and weather patterns.
In some countries, crop yields could drop by 50% by the year 2020, according to the UN Panel on Climate Change. It also predicts that more than one billion people will face shortages of fresh water by 2050.
In Uganda, climate change will lead to temperatures rising, more frequent and severe droughts, less rainfall but more storms, causing landslides and floods, and the spread of infectious diseases in men and crops.
The effects of climate change can be mitigated. Existing forests should be protected and tree planting should be encouraged.
Investments should focus on irrigation schemes so that farmers continue to produce through drought periods. Early warning systems are needed so that farmers can prepare and plan. Like the with energy sector, the Government should start tackling the problem now before the situation gets out of hand.
Prepare farmers for climate change