To accomplish global food and nutrition security in the face of climate change, a massive restructuring of food systems is required. It is now commonly recognized that Agroecology is a phenomenon that, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa, has seriously adversely affected lives and food systems worldwide. To address the concerns of low soil fertility, erosion, contamination, and declining agricultural area, long-term and sustainable Agroecological solutions are needed.
The 1st Eastern Africa Agroecology conference, which took place in Nairobi from March 21 to 24, 2023, was organized by the Biovision Africa Trust. It offered a venue for leading agroecologists to discuss and share ideas for a dynamic shift toward Agroecology-based food systems in terms of production, consumption, and markets. It also gave decision-makers, private, and public players the chance to demonstrate how food systems can coexist. The conference was attended by over 500 participants including policy makers, Agroecology and food rights activists, journalists, funding partners and various well-wishers.
During the conference, there were key note speeches on Scaling up Agroecology Initiatives, pathways to Food Systems Transformation towards Resilience and Sustainability in Africa and Policy Developments towards Mainstreaming Ecological Organic Agriculture into CAADP and their Implications. The conference also involved panel discussions, breakout sessions and side sessions.
Mr. Hakim Baliraine stated in his remarks during the panel discussion that the growing global hunger poses a serious challenge to the expanding population. "The only way to grow food and employ a large workforce is through Agroecology. We could feed Africa with our current crop of crops if all funding were directed toward Agroecology.”- Hakim added.
Various organizations, such as the Biovision Africa Trust, Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement, PELUM Association, CEFROHT, and Slow Food, among others, displayed their publications, native seeds, and processed foods made from organic ingredients like pineapple wine and juice as well as tomato and chili sauce during the conference.
ESAFF Uganda exhibited the use of the Kilimomart Application, The Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators, various Agroecology practices, policy work using different publications such as the Land stories, small scale farmers’ stories on Ecological Organic Agriculture, seed stories, the community seed bank guide and the Participatory Guarantee systems guide. These publications were also encoded into QR scan codes which were also distributed to the conference participants.
Ms. Irene Nakijoba, a small scale farmer from Mukono district and one of the exhibitors on the ESAFF Uganda stall explained to the different participants the various models that ESAFF Uganda uses, the Kilimomart Application and the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators. She boosted of the Kilimomart Application improving their livelihoods through having ready markets for their organic products.
Mr. Ssemakula from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries thanked ESAFF Uganda for coming up with innovation ideas of using QR scan codes for packaging publications. “This idea is so efficient because the QR scan codes are portable and participants do not need to carry around heavy publications which most times they don’t even read.” He added.
ESAFF Uganda through the Agroecology School for journalists and communicators supported 6 journalists from East Africa to cover and report about the 1st Eastern Africa Agroecology Conference. The journalists held interviews with various policy makers, representatives from FAO and other stakeholders.
Ms. Sharon Muzaki, a journalist from the Agroecology School for Journalists and Communicators applauded ESAFF Uganda for packaging information that can easily be understood by small scale farmers and the general public. She noted that communicating Agroecology practices through videos attracts a wider information reach as many people are more interested in audio-visual information. She added that the conference has given her a big opportunity to learn more about Agroecology and interact with different stakeholders in upscaling Agroecology.
The National Coordinator of ESAFF Uganda, Ms. Nancy Mugimba, remarked that the conference offered a venue for additional partnerships and collaborations on scaling up agroecology. She continued, "Meeting with partners like Agroecology Fund, who are so passionate about promoting Agroecology in Uganda and share a similar vision to that of ESAFF Uganda, has given me high expectations that Agroecology will actually be rolled out to the wider population to appreciate.”-Nancy noted.
To climax the conference, participants were taken to visit 3 farms with the aim of showcasing successful cases of organic farming enterprises from farming to market establishments to consumption. The GBIACK farm in Thika, Brackenhurst farm in Limuru and Charles Mawia Farm in Machakos were visited.
To read more about the 1st Eastern Africa Agroecology Conference, visit the links below: