While world and regional forum remain silent about the value of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs), its proponents within our country clandestinely continue to goad public mindset.
By Charles Okecha
While world and regional forum remain silent about the value of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs), its proponents within our country clandestinely continue to goad public mindset. GMOs feature nowhere in the Sustainable Development Goals nor world organisations like Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as suitable remedy for ending world hunger, famine, malnutrition and poverty.
Multinational corporations helped introduce plantation agriculture for rubber, cocoa and tea, among others and improved livelihood in post-independent states that exported raw materials to the industrialised world. Apparently, these corporations seem to have fallen short of the moral/humanitarian fabric to crave for financial gain. But because they repatriate profits, pay taxes and provide employment to nationals, their home countries are unwilling to completely shut down their malevolent operations as countries that yield to their guile suffer silently in debt.
For long, I have read about disastrous scientific practices that wiped out the original crop and animal species in North America and some parts of the world and adversely affected farming. It is prudent that fledglings in scientific research and technology like Uganda treads this path carefully through pilot schemes and joint research with regional states before enacting laws than could turn catastrophic.
Simple logic tells me that countries lying in the temperate belt and that rely on imported raw materials and agricultural products strive to become self-reliant. They manipulate laws and trade agreement in their favour while doing research to reduce dependence on imports lest they suffer in the event of wars and other disasters. Synthetic fibre for example has replaced cotton and sisal in certain products. Crops and animal specifies that are modified to grow in temperate conditions can hardly thrive hot tropical regions and bound to be doomed to extinction forthwith.
With all these educational and research institutions operational in our midst for over half a century, why haven't we learnt to tackle our challenges on our own? Our science study still relies on imported chemicals and we never endeavour to explore our rich environment for alternatives. Why should our grandparents who intercropped certain weed species favourable to maize and millet to destroy other weeds that stunted those crops be wiser and more pragmatic than us? Since historic times when Egypt used shadoofs for irrigation, they have maintained the same procedure except with better tools to feed its population hitherto! For us we take rain to be our birthright.
The root of the problem is stationing our focus on imported solutions for all our scientific, political and socio-economic challenges which shouldn't be the case with agriculture that we know quite well. We are also capable of discovering the means for sustaining our wildlife before someone who dwells in a skyscraper in a foreign land. Problems facing agriculture like drought, floods, low soil fertility, pests and diseases, lack of inputs and storage facilities, poor marketing are solvable within our means. Unless they are settled, they shall hamper whatsoever crop, bird or animal species farmers shall adopt and detain our country in the same vicious cycle of low productivity, hunger, famine and poverty.
Uganda is not an anarchy and has elected leaders from local to national levels with certain minimum qualifications. A half a thousand of these debate issues of national interest at parliament, equipped with start of art tools for the task. However, we still grapple with solutions for agriculture. Large expanse of undertutilised land lie in Teso northwards and in other parts of the country but no partnership has been facilitated by leaders for citizens from congested districts to do farming in such places.
Instead people live in fear that foreigners shall grab their land.
Floods ravage Karamoja but no remedial steps are taken against the inevitable until locals starve to death!
As much as we are mesmerised by ICT and expensive cars, we remain perpetual consumers of such products. Till we minimise time spent tapping smart screens and driving to utilise our fingers in farm related activities, the dream of becoming a middle income economy remains elusive.