On 17th October 2022, ESAFF Uganda held a community celebration in commemoration of her 20 years of existence in Kisoga, Mukono district. The event kick started with a food and seed exhibition where small scale farmers exhibited different indigenous foods and seeds such as balugu, enkolimbo, ebinyanya, wuju among others. Small scale farmers together with friends from People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty held a tree planting activity where 20 fruit trees were planted in Kisoga village. Small scale farmers thanked ESAFF Uganda for the continued support in empowering small scale farmers over the past 20 years.
Irene Nakijoba, the ESAFF Mukono district Chairperson noted that many of the women small scale farmers can now participate in decision making processes and speaking for themselves as a result of the empowering trainings that they have received from ESAFF Uganda overtime.
“Ever since I joined ESAFF Uganda, my life has really changed. I never used to have self-esteem as a woman and thought that I had no say in the way my home should be run. ESAFF Uganda has empowered me to be a good decision maker in my home”- Margaret Musuuza, small scale farmer.
Third party organic certification continues to be one of the biggest issues faced by Uganda's organic producers, according to the Uganda National Organic Agriculture Policy (2019). Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), a sector-specific alternative and set of supplementary tools to third party certification, fills this gap. This has demonstrated to be a more practical alternative for farmers and has improved the marketability of organic crops. Participatory Guarantee Systems certify producers based on the active participation of members and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.
During the celebrations, ESAFF Uganda together with friends from launched the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) User Guide for Small-scale Farmer Groups. The Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) guide aims at increasing appreciation for Ecological Organic Agriculture among small-scale farmers, traders and consumers and creating an alternative mode of organic certification. This guide further looks at increasing the share of quality organic products at local, national, regional and international markets and provides a step-by-step process of how a farmer group can establish, operationalize, and implement the system.
“Due to the growing use of conventional techniques and food contamination, it is imperative to increase food production. PGS provides a community-driven, environmentally friendly approach to raising superior food. In addition, there has been a shift in consumer demand that necessitates a quality guarantee for both the manufacturing process and the final product.”- Hakim Baliraine, National Chairperson, ESAFF Uganda
The assimilation of Participatory Guarantee Systems into farmers’ groups, cooperatives and other less formal community cooperation will lower the costs of production and increase knowledge transfer amongst farmers while contribute to greater food security. The guide contains simple steps that small-scale farmers can use to guarantee organic production in their communities. This guide can also be used to train other small-scale farmers and communities.
Small scale farmers further called upon the Government to popularize the Participatory Guarantee Systems as the best alternative of organic certification, fellow small scale farmers to embrace organic agriculture and the general public to adopt consumption of organically produced foods.