Small-scale farmers in Uganda are selling their crops without reserving enough for local consumption. They concentrate all their efforts on selling their produce, which leads them to buy the most affordable, yet less nutritious, food products for personal intake. This has contributed to increased malnutrition in the Kabarole region.
“Kabarole is the food basket of Uganda and the larger East Africa but ironically, a child in Kabarole is as malnourished as a child in naturally food scarce areas such as Turkana in Kenya,” observes Busiinge Amooti of Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC). He pleads for a better balance between the exportation of food products and the supply to local communities.
In Uganda, small-scale farmers are responsible for the largest part of the food supply. Yet it is hard for them to generate an adequate income. Although rapid urbanisation and road improvements have increased trade for agricultural produce from the rural areas to the urban, and across borders as well, this has given rise to a number of associated issues, such as food scarcity, malnutrition, soil exhaustion and the negative effects of commercialisation. Research from KRC indicates that increased cash crop production is threatening the food and nutrition security of rural and urban populations across the whole country.
Through the Sustainable Development Goals, Uganda is committed to reducing all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. This will involve key interventions to ensure that that all people especially children, women and the other vulnerable groups have access to sufficient and nutritious foods all year round. It will involve increased access to land, technology and markets. Like other signatory countries Uganda will have to improve its current programmes, policies and legislations aimed at improving citizen access to sustainable and nutritious foods.
The Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries has developed the Food and Nutrition Policy, and the National Planning Authority is working on a five year plan to address food system issues. “The government is moving from a hard core to a soft core approach in planning, and food is one of them. We are focusing on sustainable food production in Uganda, not just on roads and other hard core areas,” explains Dr. Patrick Birungi, Director of Planning at the National Planning Authority.
Hivos is implementing the The Sustainable Diets for All programme in Uganda in partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The programme works to influence policy and practices of markets, government actors and international institutions through citizen action for the promotion of sustainable diets for all which are:
- Healthy: nutritionally adequate and safe.
- Fair: affordable and accessible for low income consumers and inclusive for all producers (women, men and youth) who get a fair deal.
- Green: Productive and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems.
- Diverse: based upon existing (traditional) diversity, adapted for multiple, evolving local circumstances, providing greater resilience.