14 October 2012

Africa: Empowerment Can Foster Food Security

For people working in all areas of agriculture, all over the world, cooperatives and producers' organizations give their members a voice and ... ( Resource: World Food Day 2012: Agricultural Cooperatives - Key to Feeding the World

Kampala, Uganda — Solving hunger in Africa will remain a myth if the rural poor and marginalized groups like women, the major players in food production do not have rights over their produce, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have realized.

"Women don't have rights over what they cultivate since according to African culture land is mainly owned by men as females don't inherit land. Ensuring that this group has access to land and markets is a vital aspect of empowering them", said Mr. Richard Mugisha, an advocacy officer at Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda during a public dialogue held in Kampala.

The meeting agreed that solving the gender aspect is vital since productivity would be enhanced by more than 30% if women are availed with the same inputs and equipments as their male counterparts.

Mugisha explained if female farmers are availed with appropriate technologies, they are able to reduce the transaction costs and increase their bargaining power.

He noted with use of technologies, farmers can be able to eliminate middle men who tend to offer them exploitative prices for farmers' efforts.

Medius Bihunirwa of Kabarole Research and Resource Center (KRC) stressed that ensuring that the poor and vulnerable have a bigger voice through either joining cooperatives, strengthened local government or civil society groups is also a prerequisite in solving the hunger problem in the country.Food Rights Alliance's Agnes Kirabo expresses fear that hunger and extended periods of malnutrition not only devastate families and communities for a shorter period but leave a legacy with future generations which impairs livelihoods and undermines human development.

Kirabo who advocates for putting in place measures that can counter people's vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods and climate change says that Uganda and Africa at large should aim at producing more food to sustainably cater for the ever growing population without putting pressure on land.

She argues Uganda should take lessons from developed and some developing countries that have developed measures for instance a drought insurance scheme put in place by Kenya which pays off small scale farmers incase the weather/climatic changes affect their produce.

"We need to ensure that environmental sustainability is addressed in the agricultural investments that are promoted.

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