FOOD RIGHTS ACTIVISTS CALL FOR UNIVERSAL AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICES

 As the country joins the rest of the globe to mark the World Food day
scheduled for October 16th Food rights activists have stressed that
failure to ensure universal access to agricultural extension services,
is a matter of human rights violation.

 The activists urge that there two human rights issues that should
keenly be considered and observed the country celebrates the World
Food Day.

While launching a series of activities seeking serious interventions
aimed at combating hunger and malnutrition, activists said the best
approach would be ensuring accessibility of agricultural extension
services for all farmers in the country because it would empower
farmers to be in a position to produce more food and subsequently the
right to food would observed.

This comes at a time when about 900 million people across the globe
are undernourished, while the situation of hunger and malnutrition in
Uganda is not so different.

Activists expressed their disappointment with governments
concentrating on new technologies in the agricultural sector and
neglect the human resource which according to them directly produces
the food.

Now Food Rights advocates under the Food Rights Alliance a non-
governmental organization with over 100 members resolved to embark on
engaging lawmakers, farmers, government officials and other
stakeholders from the line ministries on how to improve accessibility
of agricultural extension services.

The crusaders of food rights believe that if the country is to
increase food productivity and cultivation of nutritious foods for the
population.

The National coordinator of the Food Rights Alliance Agnes Kirabo
explains the recently launched Farm Power 2013 an Initiative to be
marked on the 10th of October every year, is a strategy to bring
concerns of farmers on a discussion table for consideration by all
stakeholders.

In an interview with The Unwanted witness Uganda, she said “There is
no doubt that matters of food and agricultural are Human Rights issues
that government must take as priority”

Referring to the cost of Hunger report 2013, indicating that 54% of
adults are stunted, Kirabo says “the solutions to world Hunger have
left out critical aspect of food system which basically means people
and institutions, instead much emphasis is put on processes by which
food is produced and that is technology”

“Although technology development in agriculture, mechanical and seed
has advanced over decades this has not resulted in an increase in food
availability and stability” She added.

“This is why people centered actions such as those related to
improving technical capacity to produce and handle food as well those
actual eating the food and focusing on building institutional capacity
to deliver on food availability remain an aspect for engagement”
Kirabo said.

The number of farmers accessing extension services is declining over
time, according to the National development only 14% of farmers have
been visited by an extension worker in  the last 12 months, this is in
tandem with the decline in the total agricultural funding .

For example the period 2001/2002 to 2012/2013 has seen a decline in
the agricultural budget as a percentage of the National Budget from an
average of 4.6% to 3.2% which is below the 10% share that Uganda
pledged to allocate sector under the Maputo Declaration.

NAADs hasn’t worked

Although government introduced National Agricultural Advisory Services
(NAADs) program, Kirabo says it has not addressed the issues instead
it has made access to agricultural extension more discriminative ,
only a few farmers in a sub county and parish leaving the majority
without access to this critical aspect of food production,
productivity and utilization.

She argues that NAADS would not fully address the matter of
agricultural extension because it is largely funded by the development
partners who would have conditions pegged to the funding for their
special goals. Kirabo also states that 70% of the funds for the NAADS
programs actually end up doing administrative work at the secretariat
in Kampala and only 30% reach the farmers. So it is incumbent upon
government to fund the program in order to get its desired goals,
kirabo added.

It is on this note that Kirabo blamed government for not taking up its
full responsibility of allocating sufficient funding to the sector and
 providing agricultural extension to all farmers which is translated
into violation of the right to information.

She adds that provision of Agricultural extension is increasingly
becoming discriminative which is detrimental to the country, household
food and nutrition security. And this also in away violates the right
to food.

This is coupled with the absence of the Food and Nutrition Bill in the
country has resulted into violation of the right to food and hence the
increasing number of stunted children.

Kirabo and other advocates called on government to improve funding for
agricultural extension to allow more farmers to access the facilities.
Furthermore stakeholders involved in these services are asked to
consider hard to reach areas and special groups including women, youth
among others.

She recommends that government should prioritize provision of
agricultural extension beyond technology since this has been the
missing link leading to low food production and improvement of
existing technologies

As government considers reforms in the NAADS program, the Food Rights
Alliance says that consultations should not be a board room issue but
a country wide issue allowing the people across the board to debate
especially farmers.

In order to overcome, the challenges of food security and nutrition,
Kirabo also called on Parliament to consider debating and urgently
pass the Food and Nutrition Bill that has gathered dust since it was
shelved way back in 2009.

slubambula@gmail.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s