MATOOKE THREATENED BY BANANA WILT

New Vision . August 27, 2012

Uganda will soon run out of matooke (bananas) unless serious interventions are put in place to address the banana wilt, a Makerere don has said.

Prof. Ndebesa Mwambutsya said food security is already one of the main challenges in the East African Community where food production is challenged by extreme weather conditions.

"There will be no more matooke in Kampala very soon due to severe banana wilt. All crops seem including cassava seem to be affected by disease which is affecting production," he said.

Ndebesa made the remarks during a PACT (Promoting Agriculture, Climate change and Trade linkages in the East African Community (EAC) Project meeting held at Hotel Africana on Friday.

PACT EAC consists of two separate but synergetic segments for human and institutional capacity building of East African Community stakeholders to take better advantage of international trade for their growth and development and poverty reduction particularly in the context of climate change.

Jane Nalunga the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation (SEATINI) Uganda country director called for increased imports of food so as to curb on climatic change. "I feel it is high time government advocates for a policy to increase import in food so as we can sustain our environment," she said at the meeting attended by Members of Parliament.

She said the Geneva orientated meetings under the CUTS international seeks to address climate related hunger issues through trade.

"Climate change is altering agriculture and trade patterns, and causing additional large scale hunger in East Africa," she said. Nalunga said with appropriate polices in place, trade can help the EAC lift itself out of poverty and in mitigating the negative impacts it has on climate change.

Davis Ddamulira a food security researcher observed that concern is growing about the EAC states not working together during the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) negotiations. "Trade policy coordination is essential in helping poor countries achieve their development goals, but this remains to be addressed among the EAC states," he said.

Ministry of Trade senior commercial officer, Sirag Wakaabu said government of Uganda has continued to ensure that all trade negotiations are beneficial to the country.

Auru Anne (Moyo Women MP) said much of the land in Uganda is not utilized because of the land policies and cultural aspects that hinder women from owning land.

Oleru Huda (Yumbe Woman MP) said government had designed a climate change policy to address issues of food security.

Ambassador Maurice Kagimu Uganda's Permanent representative to Geneva said increase production coupled with quality and value addition is necessary to address food security. "You get more money not by only increasing production, but by adding value. Our people must be trained to achieve this," he said.

Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) Chairman Everest Kayondo said government intervention in development of irrigation schemes and construction of silos to address post-harvest loses is paramount in addressing food security.

The news item can be viewed at: http://www.cuts-geneva.org