NEBBI. Uganda is one of the countries in Africa with the highest comparative advantage for organic farming with over 200,000 certified farmers.
This is according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF).
Ms Irene Odongtho, a policy analyst at MAAIF while addressing stakeholders in Nebbi on Wednesday said despite the huge potential Uganda has, the space in the global organic agriculture market is still low largely due to low production and productivity by poor small holder farmers with no capacity to meet the certification costs and market standards.
She said the situation has also been made worse by low investments in manufacturing of organic inputs amidst challenges of pest and diseases and inadequate extension services especially by the civil society organizations.
“There is also a challenge of strong sportive policies and enforceable regulations coupled with weak coordination and poor access to quality data and information for planning”, she added.
The national Organic Agriculture policy which was passed by cabinet last year is to help strengthen organic agriculture research appropriate technology development and utilization and increase productivity and value of multiple function of organic agriculture by more than 50 per cent.
Ms Joyce Piwa, the district agricultural officer admitted that she was not aware about the legal framework to help her team promote organic farming.
“CEFORD is trying hard to promote organic farming and more can be done I think if most of these civil society organizations come on board to give a big push in improving organic agriculture in partnership with the district for quality assurance”, she said.
She said the policy should be properly disseminated so that extension workers are empowered since most of them don’t understand the difference between modern and organic agriculture.
Mr Gilbert Onencan, senior assistant secretary however said it is controversial to promote modern and organic agriculture because they risk confusing farmers, he said they should be spelt out clearly for the farmers to understand because the crops that are being promoted now are genetically modified and not organic.
“The policy should be able to guide farmers on how to deal with the two because currently the price of genetically modified food is the same with organic, so farmers prefer the one that takes a shorter time”, he added.
He appealed to the government to subside on certification so that more farmers can be encouraged to practice organic farming.