Small scale farmers call for the promotion of indigenous foods and seeds

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During the 6th Annual Indigenous and traditional food fair that took place at UMA on 21st October 2016 organized by PELUM Uganda as part of a campaign to restore the utilization and conservation of indigenous and traditional foods among communities in Uganda, small scale farmers used the exhibition to showcase their different indigenous foods and seeds as one of the mechanism to promote, protect and preserve indigenous seeds.

Farmers noted that the control of seed lies at the heart of agriculture and small scale farming. In Uganda, it is estimated that more than 80% of seed comes from local and community saved seed resources. The local seeds are adaptive to local conditions and forms an integral part of community food security and agricultural integrity. Some farmers stressed that the entire traditional seed system is now under threat from foreign seed companies despite the fact that indigenous and traditional foods are important for providing nutrition, improved health, biodiversity conservation and income security to small scale farmers.

“We are here to show the world that we can still embrace our indigenous foods and seeds despite the changing climate and maybe government will pick from us and support our campaign” Akello Florence, farmer from Serere district. Farmers used the event to call on government to address the low capacity to generate own breeder or foundation seed by local seed companies and build linkage between scientific and traditional/indigenous seed knowledge.

It is also well known that once indigenous seed varieties are lost, dependence on outside seed suppliers will rapidly become unaffordable. The implications will reverberate far beyond food production. Indebted small scale farmers are at direct risk of losing land tenure and good agricultural land being appropriated by large conglomerates.