The government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in partnership with the Centre for Agricultural Biosciences International (CABI) has launched the bio-protection portal to help farmers reduce reliance on chemical pesticides.
The Permanent Secretary MAAIF, Mr Pius Wakabi, said this portal will help farmers, traders to go and search for their available biocontrol measures in the country, per district, and per area.
"There has been an increasing health concern resulting from the use of some of the old conventional pesticides. This has on a number of occasions led to the interception of our fresh produce exports hence rendering them less competitive. With these challenges around us, farmers and all players in the sector must be sensitised and provided with the right information on source and quality effective yet less hazardous crop protection products," he said.
Mr Wakabi added that this idea of creating an open-access web-based bio-protection control portal is highly welcome.
"This will create awareness about the available government authorised bio-control products for use in Uganda and also reduce chances of unscrupulous people taking advantage of our non-suspecting farmers due to lack of information," he said.
Mr Paul Mwambu, the Commissioner Crop Inspection, and Certification said that the use of pesticides has over the years, significantly contributed to the national food security and together with the increasing use of fertilizers and improved seeds continue to play a pivotal role in ushering in the era of the green revolution in Uganda. He, however, on a sad note said that with increasing vagaries of weather and emerging pest problems such as fall armyworm, desert locusts and tomato leaf miners, the importance of agrochemicals in combating these problems cannot be overemphasised.
"There are reports of the increasing share of non-genuine agro-inputs which are either counterfeit, spurious, adulterated, or substandard on the Ugandan market. These counterfeit agro-inputs include pesticides that fail to control the pests, seeds that fail to perform to expectations, and fertilizers that add little or no nutrients to the soil," he said.
Mr Mwambu said that the consequences of the use of substandard inputs are not new, ranging from loss of market for the genuine importers, crop failure which leads to keeping our farmers in a vicious cycle of poverty and not forgetting the increasing cases of chronic illnesses like cancer some of which have been linked to the use of dangerous, spurious pesticides.
"The development of a web-based portal will provide information on specifically bio-pesticides that have been registered for use in the country and by who. This initiative will go a long way in preventing farmers from being duped by unscrupulous people on providing them inferior, unsafe claimed organic products. Therefore I would like to thank CABI for their support towards this initiative," he said.
According to Mr Kenneth Katungisa, the CEO Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFF) they are going to carry out massive sensitisation of farmers to know the benefits of these products especially the long-term benefits on the soils and on people's health.
"Conventional pesticides aren't necessarily dangerous but misused which has made them destructive to the land and soils but also people's health so we are going to reach out to the farmers in a way of informing them the advantages of using bio-products compared to using conventional products," he said.
Mr Katungisa also called for research to be put on animals to get products that can help in things like tick control because it is still a big problem in the country.