Omoro: Food security ordinance in offing

OMORO– Omoro district local government is in the process of developing a nutrition and food security ordinance in a bid to fight food shortage that was experienced by some families in 2022.

This is after statistics from the Omoro District Health Department indicated that 747 cases of malnutrition were registered between August 2021 to July 2022 alone.

District officials attribute the cases of malnutrition to the fact that farmers were engaging in the production of cash crops like soybean and sunflower at the expense of food crops.

Richard Bongowat Luganya, the speaker Omoro district told theCooperator that the councilors are currently carrying out consultations ahead of the introduction of the matter before council next month.

Luganya said that the district requires Shs 35 million to facilitate the process of developing the ordinance.

“We are looking for financial support from development partners because an ordinance is a tedious and expensive process,” he said, adding that the ordinance will be the first of its kind in Acholi Sub-region.

“We were awakened to develop an ordinance after seeing that many households had the potential to farm their own food but were facing food crisis because of various reasons,” he said.

Luganya added that, “Many things jeopardise food security such as roaming livestock and uncontrolled bush burning. A number of food crops in stores and gardens are annually destroyed by uncontrolled bushfires.”

Uncontrolled bush burning in Omoro district has led to the destruction of crop farms (Photo by Maya Nyambok).

He said that, “People have shifted their focus to cash crops but we want to prepare our people to go back to going food crops.”

“When you traverse our district you will see that people have shifted their attention to cash crops. We want to strategically prepare our people to go back to growing food crops. People are looking at money from cash crops but unfortunately, they don’t use money from selling cash crops to stock food items,” he said.

“We also want to make nutrition information readily available by empowering institutions in our communities,” he said.

On climate change, the ordinance aims at curtailing dealing in forest products and wetland degradation by putting in place punitive measures,” Luganya said, adding that environmental conservation is part of the issues the district wants to address in the ordinance.

According to research by Centre for African Studies, a research organisation based in Gulu, at least 80,000 hectares of forests are cleared annually for charcoal and timber, up from 50,000 in 2004 in Acholi Sub-region.

The speaker said if all goes according to plan, the ordinance will be passed by the end of the 2022/2023 financial year, adding that households will be expected to grow food crops like cassava and beans alongside other crops they may choose to grow.

Okello Douglas Peter Okao, the Omoro district L.C V Chairperson said they quickly mobilised households to grow fast-maturing food crops like sweet potatoes, cassava, and vegetables to combat the food crisis last year.

“From mobilising the people, we quickly learned that we needed to put in place measures to prevent the problem from reoccurring,” he said.

Okello said that the district engaged with various stakeholders such as religious and cultural leaders, technical leaders, and development partners to mobilise the community to change their attitudes towards growing fast-maturing food crops to combat food insecurity.

He also said that the Parish Development Model [PDM] will be used to address household food insecurity besides its main objective of pushing poor households to the money economy.

Launched in February 2022, the PDM aims to lift 39 percent of Uganda’s population still in subsistence farming to the money economy.

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