Opinion: Unlocking Uganda’s Agricultural Potential: The Urgent Need To Embrace GMOs For Food Security & Economic Growth

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By Hakim Kyeswa

Food insecurity is a pressing issue that affects millions of people around the world, including the people of Uganda. According to the World Food Programme, Uganda is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that faces high levels of food insecurity, with 19% of the population suffering from chronic hunger. This issue is not only a threat to people’s health and well-being, but it also hinders the country’s economic growth and stability.

One of the main causes of food insecurity in Uganda is the limited agricultural productivity and the ever-depleting soil fertility. The country’s reliance on traditional farming methods has led to low crop yields, making it difficult for farmers to produce enough food for their families and for the market. Additionally, Uganda’s unpredictable climate patterns and the increasing threat of pests and diseases further exacerbate the situation, making it even more challenging for farmers to grow enough food to support their families and communities.

In this era of technological advancements, it is crucial that Uganda embraces and regulates the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture to combat food insecurity. GMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered through biotechnology to give them specific traits, such as resistance to pests and diseases, tolerance to harsh climatic conditions, and increased nutritional value. These modified organisms have been used in agriculture for decades in many countries around the world, showing significant benefits in terms of increased crop yields, reduced production costs, and improved food quality.

One of the significant advantages of using GMOs is their ability to resist pests and diseases. Pests and diseases are major contributors to crop loss, causing significant economic losses to farmers. GMOs, on the other hand, have built-in resistance to these threats, reducing the need for harmful chemical pesticides and making farming more sustainable. This also translates to increased food availability and affordability for consumers, as well as improved income for farmers, which can alleviate poverty in rural areas.

GMOs are also a solution to Uganda’s unpredictable climate patterns. With the current effects of climate change, farmers are facing challenges such as droughts, floods, and storms that can destroy their crops. GMOs have been engineered to withstand these harsh conditions, making them an essential tool for farmers in adapting to climate change. This, in turn, can contribute to the country’s food security by ensuring a stable supply of food even in the face of extreme weather events.

Moreover, GMOs have been modified to have increased nutritional value, making them a potential solution to the malnutrition crisis in Uganda. According to the World Health Organization, 33% of children under the age of 5 in Uganda are stunted, and 6% suffer from acute malnutrition. By incorporating GMOs in their diets, people can access more nutrient-rich foods, such as vitamin A-enriched sweet potatoes, which can help to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in the country.

Despite the numerous advantages of GMOs, there have been concerns about their safety, particularly in terms of their potential effects on human health and the environment. However, these concerns have been addressed by numerous scientific studies and regulatory agencies, such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which have deemed GMOs safe for consumption. It is essential for policymakers in Uganda to base their decisions on scientific evidence rather than popular misconceptions and political agendas.

It is also worth noting that many developed and developing countries around the world have been using GMOs for years, with proper regulations in place to ensure their safety and to coexist with traditional farming methods. By enacting laws and regulations that govern the use of GMOs, Uganda can also embrace this technology and benefit from its potential to improve food security and boost the country’s economy.

Furthermore, importing GMOs can be costly for the country’s economy, as it involves spending valuable foreign exchange. By embracing GMOs locally, Uganda can reduce its dependence on expensive imports and instead invest in its own agricultural sector by supporting local farmers and promoting innovation and research in biotechnology.

In conclusion, it is time for Uganda to embrace GMOs and use them as a tool to combat food insecurity in the country. The advantages of GMOs, such as increased crop yields, improved nutrition, and resilience to pests and diseases, far outweigh any potential risks. By enacting proper regulations and promoting informed decision-making based on scientific evidence, Uganda can reap the benefits of biotechnology and improve the lives of its people for generations to come.

Kyeswa Hakim is a media analyst at the Office of the National Chairman NRM (ONC) – Kyambogo.

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