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Ugandan Farmers reject genetically modified crops

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A  farmer in Uganda harvesting coffee beans.

A farmer in Uganda harvesting coffee beans. File Photo  

By David Kazungu

Posted  Wednesday, June 22  2011 at  13:23
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Farmers in the eastern districts of Uganda that constitute the Elgon zone have rejected a proposal by Mr. Arthur Makala, the executive director at Science Foundation for Livelihoods and developments, to start engaging in the cultivation of genetically modified crops that are drought resistant and give high yields.

Mr. Arthur Makala who was meeting the farmers at Resort Hotel in Mbale had suggested that farmers should embrace the Genetically Modified Crops [GMC] for better yields but the farmers rejected it saying GMCs are contaminated with chemicals that may be harmful to their health.

The farmers that Daily Monitor talked to in the this area under their umbrella organization JENGA Community development association said that genetically modified crops are not relevant to communities around the Elgon zone because the soils here are fertile and still have the capacity to accommodate the cultivation of organic crops.

Mr. Anthony Namunane said although a number of crops in this region are dying out because of the attack from pests and diseases, it’s important to find the measures to control these calamities than introduce GMCs.

He added that most farmers believe that GMCs like mushrooms, cassava, bananas and some fruits do not have any test in them saying this is the reason why they think they can be poisonous and not relevant to them.

“What we are lacking is the skill to manage the control of these pests and diseases. We also need to train our farmers on soil conservation especially those living on the slopes of Mt. Elgon so that they can observe better farming methods and continue growing organic crops,” Mr. Namunane said.

Mr. David Ssula, a coffee farmer of Bukiende sub county in Mbale district says, the clonal coffee which was introduced to them has no value compared to the traditional Arabica coffee and that it takes long to mature and has no market.

“It is true we have problems with our traditional organic crops but it is not necessary for researchers to introduce the GMC without sensitizing the farmers on their value and effect on people’s health,” Mr. Ssula said.

However Mr.Makara said it would be good for farmers to embrace the genetically modified crops because farmers needed to involve these lives in commercial farming to increase their incomes.