Caritas Uganda, MAAIF commence campaign to fight inappropriate use of Agrochemicals

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By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/ KMA Updates.

Entebbe, Uganda: The two parties agreed to partner in realizing that they bring to zero improper use of agro-chemicals as it was cited as toxic to agriculture sector and human health.

Participants from Caritas Uganda and officials from Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) are seen in a prayer during a high level meeting organized by Caritas Uganda at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa. 

During a high level meeting organized by Caritas Uganda yesterday at Central Inn Hotel in Entebbe, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) saw it worth enforcing after the latter presented the consequences at hand arising from inappropriate use of agro-chemicals.

Ministry officials asked the host/Caritas Uganda to continue fueling their advocacy role and that the Ministry will work around the clock to enforce any strategies or policies proposed by them.

While delivering his opening remarks of the meeting, Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira, the National Chairman of Caritas Uganda told ministry officials that the Organization/Caritas was instituted as an option for the poor through advocacy and enabling farmer right from the grass root access the required assistance, skills to benefit from agriculture.

Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira, the National Director of Caritas Uganda delivers his remarks during a high level meeting with Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa. 

He echoed that Caritas is in line with Sustainable Development Goals like (Food Security & Nutrition and Health) but decried the rampant use of agro-chemicals inappropriately which in turn affects the latter goals.

He went on to inform that the organization is de-campaigning subsistence route amongst their farmers such that the food grown on their gardens can sustainably be utilized for feeding & for monetary terms.

He requested MAAIF to partner with them especially the extension services department when it comes to mindset change and training of farmers as this could be the only way to fight vices in agriculture like inappropriate use of chemicals as the major animal to hunt and harnessing desirable agriculture.

He told participants that Caritas Uganda organized this engagement in a bid to harness for information sharing amongst them on how to tackle the vice.

He added that the engagement should help them know who is responsible for what especially when it comes to implementation since there are many lucrative dormant policies, strategies and bills yet they would essential to streamline agriculture.

And that the engagement should help them realize how much together they can help farmers/people improve their diet and livelihood.

Ms. Jennifer Ayuru, the Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture Extension and Skills Management in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) gives her opening remarks during a high level meeting orgnized by Caritas Uganda at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa. 

Ms. Jennifer Ayuru, the Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture Extension and Skills Management in the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that matter of inappropriate use of Agro chemicals is event in Uganda’s Agricultural sector and that it’s more dangerous beyond what we see today by our naked eyes.

She showed concern that this is not only in agro-chemicals but also has transformed to the inputs like seeds where but some buyers tend to manipulate the quality of seeds by just painting colors on them and sell to farmers directly at the end of the day, the yields are very poor.

She committed to the meeting that the Ministry through crop husbandry sub-sector will align their powers to see that these issues are looked into especially quality of agrochemicals and counterfeits on the market.

She continued to applause Caritas Uganda for their advocacy role and that the Ministry will be behind them in a bid to save the ever deteriorating agriculture/back born of Uganda.

Betty Rose Aguti the Policy and Advocacy specialist at Caritas Uganda & the National Coordinator of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) deliver presentation on behalf of Caritas Uganda during a high level meeting with Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

While presenting their interventions, Betty Rose Aguti the Policy and Advocacy specialist at Caritas Uganda & the National Coordinator of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) pointed that inappropriate use of agro-chemicals is a matter that must be expedited as it is already imposing adverse effects to agriculture yet Uganda is regarded as a food basket in the region.

She noted that the inappropriate use of agro-chemicals have been catalyzed by influx of agricultural pests hence there should be interventions for proper control of this vice to end the farmer.

She said that pesticides and other chemicals in other cases are sprayed on food in the name of improving their quality, look attractive but in turn these are too dangerous to one’s health as the neutralize the natural content of the food  they’re applied to.

So she clang to Ministry of Agriculture officials to give a hand to Civil Society Organizations in line with stable and sustainable agriculture particularly Caritas Uganda in the rise against inappropriate use of agro-chemicals.

Caritas Uganda Officials consult with top Officials from Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) after a high level meeting with Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

Betty mentioned that as Caritas Uganda and The Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) facilitate long term sustainable solutions for socio-economic development through micro-financing and promotion of agricultural skills to help local communities.

She said that of now they are enforcing linkage of farmers to financial institutions for soft loans & organizing open markets for them to display their agricultural produce & learn technical advice from district agricultural officers & key development partners.

“It should be noted that Caritas Uganda operates through 19 Caritas Diocesan & 472 Caritas Parishes spread throughout the country & with 210 staff & 3,776 volunteers employed to carry out the mission of the agency countrywide”. Betty mentions.

“With the stewardship of Caritas Uganda, two agriculture schools have been established in Gulu and Arua in addition to fish farming targeting over 800 youths”. She added.

Ssekaboja Daniel, a Research Fellow at Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH) presents Research of effects of Agrochemicals on specific food item and water during a high level meeting between Caritas Uganda and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

She also informed that they have partnered with Makerere University to equip students in these schools with related schools in addition to help farmers form cooperatives by merging Associations where by some of them are already registered with Ministry of Trade Industries and Cooperatives.

But all this has been possible because of collaboration with the global Caritas network; such as Caritas Norway, Catholic Relief Services USA, Caritas Australia, Caritas Denmark, Caritas Japan, Caritas Italy, Caritas Netherlands-CORDAID, Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Africa.

She pointed that as Caritas Uganda believe that there is an urgent need for the review of the Food Policy because it is old yet the sector is experiencing many changes in technology and development.

In her conclusive remarks, Betty mentioned that they are pushing for national dialogue on food safety and meetings on food and nutrition legislation since these are the main pillars.

Ms. Consolata Acayo, the Principal Information Scientist & Science/Biotechnology Communicator with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) Uganda gives her views regarding inappropriate use of Agrochemicals during a high level meeting Caritas Uganda at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

Ms. Consolata Acayo, the Principal Information Scientist & Science/Biotechnology Communicator with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) Uganda applauded Caritas Uganda for engaging Ministry of Agriculture reckoning that their advocacy role is paramount towards ministry’s  enforcement of related activities.

Responding to the presentation from Caritas Uganda, Ms. Consolata supported request from the organization that the Food Safety Bill must be expedited.

She informed participants that the Bill has seen challenges of belonging as different ministries especially that of Health and MAAIF have for long claimed ownership of it till to date- a thing that has delayed it’s tabling but believes that with continued engagements with CSOs, there should be great advocacy towards settling the matter and have the Bill passed into a law in order to save human health.

Ms. Consolata Acayo, the Principal Information Scientist & Science/Biotechnology Communicator with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) Uganda receives copies of books from Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira, the National Chairman of Caritas Uganda. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

(L-R), Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira, the National Chairman of Caritas Uganda  and Ms. Consolata Acayo, the Principal Information Scientist & Science/Biotechnology Communicator with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) Uganda interact after the meeting. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

Also believes that the Food policy is old yet there is drastic development in the Agricultural sector which necessitate its review.

Achayo also decried serious cut of the agricultural budget FY2022/23 that is likely to paralyze many agricultural interventions/services, mentions increased advocacy like Caritas Uganda is doing is the only way out.

She called everyone in his/position, sector o0r individual to take on the mantle in ensuring we have safe food for our good health.

While submitting her views in the high level meeting organized by Caritas Uganda, Sylvia Nantongo Sr. Agricultural Inspector at Agro-chemicals Division at Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries of Uganda expressed concerns on repackaging of pesticides saying that in most cases dealers tamper with the quality hence ending up being toxic plants and the end product.

She proposed that there should be a hard hitting policy to those who tamper with imported pesticides as this would save sector from intoxicants.

She said that there should also be mass sensitization of farmers on the authenticity of agro-chemicals such that they can detect them before putting them to use.

There should be establishment and operationalization of agro-chemical laboratory to test chemicals before they are put to market as this absence of this is being exploited by the dealers to exploit farmers hence affecting the agricultural sector.

Participants seen attentively following the proceedings of the meeting. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

Regarding Caritas Uganda’s presentation and request for MAAIF’s action on inappropriate use of Agro-Chemicals, many concerns were raised by ministry officials which among them included;

How caritas Uganda manages quality assurance bit in their interventions, whether their interventions are incorporated with gov’t programs like Parish Development Model, thought for findings of their research as in the presentation, Caritas Uganda to find out beneficiaries of Agriculture credit facilities,.

Ministry officials went on to ask Caritas Uganda to integrate their activities with MAAIF’s department of extension services, seed certification, value addition and nutrition unit.

As well these asked Caritas Uganda to formalize use Uganda Warehouse Receipts Systems since it is in place as it may help farmers’ access loans.

Betty Rose Aguti, the Policy and Advocacy specialist at Caritas Uganda & the National Coordinator of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) respond to concerns raised by participants. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.

For Caritas Uganda, Betty Rose Aguti, the Policy and Advocacy specialist at Caritas Uganda & the National Coordinator of The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform, (UFCVP) mentioned that they work with different stakeholders for quality assurance and are still in search for working with more with knowhow.

She noted that their interventions are aligned with those of central government like Parish Development Model and are pushing for expedition of Food and Nutrition Bill where MAAIF is so pertinent.

She called for partnership with Local government/District official for Training of Trainees (TOTs) and marriage between private and government extension services to realize efficiency.

She informed participants that they do impact evaluation at the end of the project which is also a requirement by donors and this help to, inform advocacy, validation of key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and dialogue.

She pointed that there are missing links in Agricultural Credit Facilities accessibility by the farmers and government investment as priority is not followed as well there is need to address the issue of inappropriate use of agrochemicals by either a policy or strategy.

Ms. Consolata Acayo, the Principal Information Scientist & Science/Biotechnology Communicator with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) Uganda is seen chairing the plenary session of the high level meeting organized by Caritas Uganda at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa. 

The meeting climaxed with wide range recommendations all geared towards having the inappropriate use of agrochemicals vice be brought to zero. Among the general recommendations were;

Strengthening linkages between private and public sectors as it would help in effective implementations of different programs.

Increasing advocacy especially the Civil Society Organizations particularly Caritas Uganda and The Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice Platform.

Having deliberate forum where they would share information between Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, (MAAIF) and Civil Society Organizations in this case Caritas Uganda.

Having mass sensitization on food safety and pesticides residues such that they can have sustainable agriculture and good health.

Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, (MAAIF) and Caritas Uganda in ways of streamlining the Agricultural sector.

Having multi-stakeholder engagement between Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, (MAAIF) and Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH).

Group Photo of Participants from Caritas Uganda and officials of Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries, (MAAIF) after a high level meeting organized by Caritas Uganda at Central Inn Hotel, Entebbe yesterday. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa. 

UNACOH, a research organization that was contracted by Caritas Uganda to do research on pests that presented during the high level meeting.

That Quality assurance team of Caritas Uganda should work with Ministry’s extension services department for efficiency and effectivity.

Need for refresher training/Capacity building on the concept as the inappropriate use of Agrochemicals could be as a result lack of enough knowledge about it.

Need for joint implementation of activities, having successive media engagement and training to see the visibility of activities and easing awareness amongst the public.

Need for drama on the vice for radios and community gatherings then documentary for television as this will easily inform the cause.

Need for formulation of the Penal Code Act that should penalize those found in misuse of agrochemicals as it may scare them hence achieving the goal.

However the question remained, who should do what, how should it be done and when should it be do.

This necessitated the two parties to agree on having another engagement as soon as possible to harness the way forward such that the initiated fight may yield results.

 

 

 

 

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