A new study has revealed that the consumption of organic products rapidly increased to over 10% despite the continued gap in domestic production.
This also shows that the demand for Organic products outside Uganda also increased with the organic foodstuffs worth at least US$200 million required.
The study done by the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) during the Covid-19 lockdown reveals that among the key consumer considerations behind the increase in consumption of organic products were; price, health concern, nutritional value and environmental protection.
“Two major consumer segments for the organic products were “occasional” and “dedicated consumers,” reads the report.
The study further shows that the domestic demand is increasing but the domestic production of organic crops is not keeping pace.
This, the study says, is a result of a lack of knowledge and information about organic agriculture and foods among value-chain actors from production to consumption.
“…they are a major hindrance to the adoption of organic agriculture in Eastern Africa,” it reads.
Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people.
It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
This combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and good quality of life for all involved.
Speaking at a talk show on one of the local television stations, Francis Nsanga, the Project Manager at Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Eastern Africa (KHEA), said they are looking at creating and availing organic agriculture knowledge to different stakeholders, including farmers through the different farmer training and the Continental Digital Platform (CDP).
He noted that the reason why people are not practicing organic agriculture is the lack of knowledge of the practices, inputs, and market.
He says in order to disseminate information to different parties, especially the farmers, Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda through the KHEA project launched a “Know What you Eat” campaign.
Ezra Kalule, the KHEA Project Officer, said that the overall objective of this campaign is to raise awareness of the benefits of eating organic food.
He said accessing the market for organic foods is one of the challenges faced by farmers and this is partly blamed on the knowledge gap.
“Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Eastern Africa (KHEA) has embarked on information dissemination and addressing the knowledge gap about organic foods and agriculture,” said Magino Pamella, the KHEA Communications Officer.
KHEA is part of the continental Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture in Africa (KCOA) initiative.
The overall objective of the KCOA project is to introduce knowledge hubs successfully as an innovative strategy for promoting organic agriculture with actors in the regions of Eastern, Western, Northern, Central and Southern Africa.
During the project, at least 1289 multipliers and 1859 farmers, totaling 3238 individuals were trained in the organic food value-chain.
The second phase of the KHEA project is expected to end in 2024.
“The overall goal of the KHEA project is to ensure that ecological organic agriculture is integrated into the Eastern Africa agricultural systems in four countries and we later scale up to Madagascar in phase 3,” Nsanga said.
Speaking at the panel, Josephine Akia Luyimbazi, Country Coordinator and KHEA Co-host Coordinator PELUM Uganda, said that people need knowledge and information about organic foods and agriculture and the “Know What you Eat campaign is here to solve such challenges”.
In Uganda, the current organic markets include; Abayita Ababiri Organic Market along Entebbe Road under the proprietor Prof Charles Ssekyewa where different consumers can access organic foods, products, and organic agriculture inputs.
“We might not go to the lab but we know we have created a system that is very transparent and dependable because the farmers know each other. If a farmer from that group is not using organic inputs, then the other farmers will have to isolate and remove them from the group,” Nsanga added.