By Frank Lukwago, New vision/NECJOGHA
Kampala, Uganda – The government has introduced standard operating procedures to be followed by schools to establish demonstration gardens.
The initiative is aimed at providing practical learning on different technologies of micronutrient -rich foods and the utilisation of community-based nutritional services in schools and small households.
The project areas using universal primary education (UPE) schools are expected to be used as key entry point to the community.
It is expected to, in a long run, promote food security and enhance the fight against malnutrition in the country.
The programme was launched at the World Food Day celebrations held at Bulindi Zonal Agriculture and Research Institute (BUZARD) in Kyabigambire sub-county, Hoima district by Edward Ssekandi, the vice president on behalf of the president, Yoweri Museveni, on Wednesday.
The agriculture minister, Vicent Ssempijja, said his ministry will take a lead in the implementation, along with the ministries of education and sports, health and the district local governments.
Ssempijja urged schools to embrace the programme, which is funded by Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.
Museveni in his speech read by Ssekandi, said the government was committed to prioritizing agriculture mechanization and irrigation.
The day was celebrated under the theme: Our actions are our future, healthy diets for a zero hunger world.
The president said the day’s theme challenged every stakeholder to renew and re-affirm their collective commitment to ensuring that no human being was deprived of their fundamental right to proper and timely nutrition intakes.
“This is true for both plants and animals. We all need food to remain alive and productive. In his in his infinite wisdom, God first created food before creating human beings on the sixth day, which was the last day of creation,” he said.
The president said it was a sin to allow any human being to starve. He quoted the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that shows that over 820 million people worldwide were starving.
He said to make the situation worse, 60% of those starving are mothers. He said that malnutrition-related causes have led to the death of five million children under the age of five.
“This demonstrates we must act with urgency to rid the world of hunger and privation, which erode dignity and worth of human life,” he noted.
Museveni emphasised that the government’s commitment to prioritise agriculture as one of the important pillars of the economy in terms of employment, food security and wealth creation because it employs over 70% of Ugandans.
He said to increase food production and export earnings from agriculture, government has intensified efforts in provision of planting materials to farmers, as well as delivery of extension services. He said malnutrition affects agricultural productivity, especially among women who provide 60% of labour in farming activities.
“Iodine deficiency accounts for poor mental development and this affects our young children and future work force.
“Improving nutrition status is, therefore, a critical issue in the development process.
“It requires increasing agricultural production, food distribution access, health environment and nutrition education programmes to improve knowledge and skills in meal preparation,” Museveni explained.
World Food Programme (WFP) deputy country representative Julie Macdonald and FAO country representatives in Uganda expressed their commitment to the promotion of affordable and nutritious foods to aid the fight against food insecurity.