World Food Day is celebrated to highlight worldwide hunger issues and raise awareness of food quality and nutrition. Every year on October 16th. The day is of immense importance as it caters to one of the basic human needs and right that is “FOOD.” Every person in this world should make valuable contributing to eradicate hunger by supporting all efforts to end hunger and malnutrition at community, national and international level. It is rightly said that instead of building big entertainment centres, huge religious structures and raising our compounds because of security, we should instead open our doors to hungry people. Hunger is one of the significant causes of death every year. We still have so many lives who can’t afford even a single square meal every day.

Uganda is among the low-income country in the world with a fast-growing population where 8.8 million people live below the poverty line (UBOS 2019/20). Its population, at 47 million people in 2020, is growing at 3.3 percent per year and is expected to exceed 100 million by 2050 (UN DESA Population Division 2017). Uganda’s poverty rate in 2016 was 41.6 percent, down from more than 60 percent in the 1990s, but with some fluctuation in recent years. Its GDP per capita in 2017 was just $606 in current US dollars, much less than half of the average for Africa south of the Sahara, which stands at $1,574 (Word Bank 2019).

Agriculture remains the major pillar of the country’s economy where sixty-eight percent of Ugandans are employed in agriculture, 7 percent in industry, and 25 percent in services. Meanwhile, 25 percent of GDP comes from agriculture, 20 percent from industry, and 47 percent from services (World Bank 2019). Coffee has historically been the country’s biggest export product, although it was surpassed by gold for the first time in 2018 (BOU 2019). Uganda has high levels of biodiversity, rich volcanic soils, multiple freshwater lakes with irrigation potential, and two rainy seasons per year, which are beneficial to agricultural production. Yet agriculture in Uganda has been plagued by droughts and damaging diseases and pests. To raise productivity and improve food security, Uganda will need to boost extension services and farmers’ use of inputs and reduce their postharvest losses (World Bank 2018).

What is being done?

Uganda National Farmers Federation, Vi and partners have been celebrating the World Food Day for some time now.  UNFFE and partners have been promoting agroforestry initiatives and have ably demonstrated that agroforestry practices have a strong bearing to smallholder farmer food security in the Country.

UNFFE joins the rest of the world to raise public awareness on why we need a change in agri-food systems transformation. The initiative emphases the need to support the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustaining agri-food systems for better production.

In order to achieve the above, UNFFE with it partners like Vi Agroforestry are encouraging the use of agroforestry practices that lead to physical and economic accessibility to food and how agri food systems transformation can impact the broader socio-economic and sustained environmental recovery of our planet.

Highlights of the contribution of Agroforestry to food systems in regard to achieving food security in Uganda.

Agroforestry has potential for strengthening the climate change resilience of smallholder farmers. Currently, the food security challenges faced by smallholders will likely worsen due to climate change impacts. Agroforestry provides an option for strengthening climate change resilience among small holder farmers, while contributing to food access, income, health, and environmental stability.

The biodiversity of Agroforestry systems supports environmental stability and allow for greater food access, income generation, and improved health; This is illustrated through;

  • Income (Tree crops, wood products, seed, non-Tree Forest Products);
  • Environment (Water provisions, soil fertility, erosion control and micro climate);
  • Food Quantity (Fruits and nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, Forage & Feed);
  • Food quality (Fruits and nuts, Vegetables, mushrooms, Forage & feed)
  • Health (Pests and disease control, nutrient diversity, Micro nutrient and wood fuel).

Generally, most Agroforestry systems offer indirect benefits for food security, such as allowing more off-farm work than traditional agriculture and contributing to environmental stability.

Most of the users of Agroforestry generally collect less fuel wood from natural forests.

Traditional and commercial Agroforestry contribute to food security in diverse ways: for example, traditional home gardens offer 20% more dietary diversity than commercial counterparts, while commercial home gardens may contribute up to five times more income.

Call for action across sectors to ensure that Agroforestry Systems deliver enough food, affordable, nutritious and safe food for all through; –

  1. Immediately approve the pending Draft National Agroforestry Strategy
  2. Increase budget allocation in the responsible ministries for Agroforestry promotion in the country.
  3. Increased investment in Agroforestry practices by the private sector and other actors.
  4. Scale the adoption of Agroforestry initiatives & practices among the small holder farmers in the country.