Need for scientific approach for food shortage
What you need to know:
- Due to the onset of climate change we are likely to experience more harsh weather conditions and other farming challenges including floods, and crop diseases most of which we might not easily overcome as ordinary farmers without regular scientific interventions to provide solutions.
- Policy makers are expected to have more faith in agricultural research findings.
The news of the availability of drought tolerant sorghum and millet varieties announced by Naro in the media this week must be very welcome given what has been going on in Karamoja and many other parts of the country where food production has been such a big challenge in the past two months resulting in at least one hundred people starving to death, according to some media reports.
At the start of the next planting season we expect that the seeds of the sorghum and millet varieties will be made available to the farmers for growing.
Due to the onset of climate change we are likely to experience more harsh weather conditions and other farming challenges including floods, and crop diseases most of which we might not easily overcome as ordinary farmers without regular scientific interventions to provide solutions. Policy makers are expected to have more faith in agricultural research findings.
Besides the long drought making food production difficult there are crop pests and diseases that are steadily wiping out staple food crops such as sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, and maize.
This is happening when we are hosting more and more refugees, when our porous borders are letting in more unregistered aliens, and when our women’s fertility rate (of 5.6 children per woman) is one of the highest globally. We have a fast growing population to feed yet our food resources are steadily dwindling.
Some countries in Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa, among others, are looking at biotechnology as one of the best approaches to the current agricultural problems.
But as you read this comment there are successful biotechnological solutions to some of the diseases killing off a number of our major food crops, discovered by our own scientists, but are not available to farmers because our policy makers have not decided yet whether or not to adopt biotechnology.
Graham Brookes, Director of PG Economics, has written, “We have seen for more than twenty years now how crop biotechnology adoption in developing countries has contributed to higher yields, more secure production, and increased incomes, greatly contributing to decreasing poverty, hunger and malnutrition in some regions of the globe most prone to these challenges.”
Other countries which have improved food production through biotechnology adoption include India, Pakistan, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Columbia, Vietnam, Honduras, and Bangladesh.
Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,