Dear Experts and fellow discussants on this platform.
I am very excited to have such a wonderful topic to discuss: "The link between Agricultural Production and Nutrition".
After reading the two resources accessed from the links that Busi has provided, i now take the opportunity to share with you what i feel about this topic with reference to my country Uganda.
Uganda's economy relies entirely on agriculture. Indeed, the saying goes: "Agriculture is the back-bone of Uganda's economy. So Uganda is an agriculture led economy. The sector (Agriculture) employs over 85% of the population who derive their livelihood from subsistence farming and other agriculture related activities like rearing of animals, poultry, apiary and fishing. However, you will discover that this is far from reality.
Uganda is said to be growing at an average rate of between 6-8 percent, whatever the case anyway! Additionally, the country is running a Development Plan that is to last up to 2030. The Plan focuses mainly on Agriculture and Development. The Plan is in line with the government's programmes that have been running which include among others; Poverty Alleviation programme (PAP), Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA) then National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) which recently changed to run under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC). These will be explained at a later stage.
To borrow info from the "Action in Countries resource" provided, Uganda has had a component of Farmer Field Schools under its Agriculture Plans. At least, i can testify that a number of farmers (model farmers) including technical teams were selected from various districts of Uganda and were trained as Trainers. Those farmers who benefited out of it could have moved a step ahead since they gained skills in good farming practices that made them reap highly from their farms. But what i would like to say is; such a programme was not felt by many farmers. They still suffer the problem of food shortage thereby posing a challenge of malnutrition and deficiencies.
From the same report (Action in Countries), fish farming is highlighted as being one of the main activities that can contribute to fish production mainly for food value. An example cited in this resource is Somalia where we see that the fish industry is not yet ventured into so much partly due to conflicts!
Uganda as a country is endowed by water bodies whereby fish catch was initially very good and people were really enjoying eating fish freely got from the water bodies or bought cheaply. History has changed in that most Ugandans just admire fish since it has become the most expensive food or source. Government has given leeway to the Private Investors in this sector who have limited the inhabitants to carry out any fishing activities anyhow on the waters. Most of the fish is sold outside the country! Government is now trying to encourage the local people to venture into fish farming; something new and expensive to many! Fish has really reduced in Uganda and becomes expensive for the locals making many especially women and children miss on the food value found in fish.
Another issue to talk about is the challenge of pests and diseases that attack almost every crop in Uganda. Research Organizations and farmers themselves try to deal with such a big challenge but the task ahead is big! Scientists say they have come up with strains or varieties of maize, beans, potatoes and other varieties that are genetically modified to provide food nutrients as well as guard against the diseases and hash weather conditions. But this is being resisted by the politicians, activists and some farmers who say these varieties are not good for health. So many of them (varieties) can not be commissioned thereby making people lose out on food nutrients like Vitamin A found in foods like the Yellow Fresh sweet potato and some beans which are vital to guarantee immunity especially in children. Some media practitioners/media houses have tried to promote some of the products from research especially those that are propagated using other means that are not genetic modification, but people still resist this.
To utilize the Key recommendations for "Improving Nutrition through Agriculture and Food resource" that you experts for this platform have provided for this discussion, i would specifically mention the point (number 6) on Empowerment of women by ensuring access to productive resources, income opportunities, labour and time saving technologies including energy and water services. This is key in production of food in big quantity and good quality required. In Uganda still, there is a similar programme being piloted in some seven districts. It promotes Conservation Agriculture -where farmers do not labour so much to produce food. No weeding! Farmers just slash or use herbicides to suppress the weed! Farmers use less energy and yet they reap more!
In conservation agriculture, farmers dig basins-which are simply holes that they use for many seasons to plant either maize, beans, soybeans, ground nuts and many other crops. The farmers have acquired skills whereby they integrate livestock into farming thereby creating synergy. In other words, they rear animals and chicken which they feed with their farm produce like maize and maize stalks. In turn, the animals and chicken/birds give wastes which the farmers use to make fertilizers. The fertilizers are put in the gardens to get high, quality produce for food for home consumption, for income and for animals. The most important thing is; they get plenty and variety of food to eat at home. That's ; they eat eggs, chicken, take milk and slaughter animals like goats on some occasions and eat thereby getting nutrients from such foods. This kind of practice for the farmers can guarantee good health for the population
To comment on number 2 in the same resource which talks about malnutrition and deficiencies: this programme is likely to benefit Uganda since the National Strategic Framework for Sustainable Land use was recently launched in Uganda to cover the whole country. However, this requires more support from all other partners in development so as to benefit the population.
This is what i can share on this at the moment. Hope to share more from colleagues on the platform.