UGANDA – Oxfam in collaboration with Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda, has organized a 5-day Farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) training drill to educate farmers on the value of food plants.

The FMSS caravan took place in Apac municipality which includes Teso, Lango, Acholi, and West Nile sub-regions of Uganda, and has a goal of ensuring food security and improved nutrition among the farming community.

As part of the training, Oxfam advised farmers to boost local food plant production, and continually preserve and protect the plant species for their nutrition purposes, and medicinal values.

Muhindo Jackson Rukara, the resilience and climate change coordinator at Oxfam, stated that food plants, despite their high nutritional value, disease resistance, and drought tolerance, are on a fast track to extinction. He advised farmers to practice seed multiplication to boost production further.

“When we attach importance to the plants, people will start looking for them and start growing their own,” said Rukara.

“We are striving to see a country free of poverty and inequality and we believe the seed program will help alleviate poverty.”

Among the identified high nutrients plants include malakwang, carrots, simsim, pumpkin, groundnuts, leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, sweet potato, yam, onion, and garlic among others, says Rukara.

Farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) arrangement is the Oxfam initiative to ensure food security and improved nutrition among the farming community.

The initiative is a combination of diverse activities that will maintain, enhance, use, and share genetic materials outside the formal breeding and commercial production system.

Christopher Ocen, the farmer school facilitator of Awinyo in Apac municipality, said that through farmer field school they have restored, adopted, and improved bean production and restored its original trade and characteristics.

Molly Ajok, of Waribucing farmer field school in Omoro district, added that plants played a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic and most people were sustained by it.

According to Molly, the gradual reduction in the production of the said plant foods can be attributed to several factors including the character of the plant species, challenges in preparation, tests, and lack of access to the seeds.

“We want to address the bottleneck as to why people are running away from it, yet it has high food nutrients and can cure many diseases,” she said.

Joel Oyela, the chairperson of Apurpetur farmer field school, expressed his confidence on the impact of the initiative citing that members have picked interest in growing the plants and will soon start selling to other communities.