The symposium ran from Friday the 14th to Sunday 16th of October 2022 at the University premises in Kansanga a peripheral of Kampala City, under the theme “Linking Climate Change, Food Security, Nutrition and Wellbeing.”
It brought a number of stakeholders including East African member states, Climate change Activists, farmers, Civil Society Organizations, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Development partners, and the entire population to deliberate on different topics related to climate change and food security in order to come up with sustainable solutions.
Yusra Alwi, the Local and International Partnership Coordinator at The International University of East Africa (IUEA) stated that it was a great honour that they were prioritized to organise this because the symposium targeted academicians and all stakeholders to deliberate about the problem at hand and IUEA is known for that.
“IUEA is known for looking at challenges and coming up with solutions for the community around us and the world at large, we continue to do that in many of our innovations and projects”.– Yusra Alwi quoted
She cited that IUEA came up with the idea of the electric bike a few years back after assessing the benefits to the environment. In addition, they looked at how they can implement sustainable farming through the use of electric tractors and solar planters which are ongoing.
“This was the idea of one of our students. He came up with a prototype of a solar planter and the university intervened to complement his innovation through funding and additional knowledge such that it can be sustainable”.– Said Yusra.
She stated that the University deals in projects linked to agriculture specifically targeting women and youths’ development and training in smart agriculture.
She said in one of their studies on power rise they were able to reveal some of the challenges as to why women are held back in their communities. ‘When we created women and youths’ groups separately, the youths did quite well, although the women were happy they complained about challenges they faced back home with their spouses and families due to their new jobs, and requested saving schemes and counselling.’
“We realized that community sensitization and awareness is such a main factor in all this and that is why we are all gathered here to spread awareness and community sensitization to allow people to see the importance of food security, a basic necessity”. She remarked.
“In Uganda, I believe we shouldn’t be crying for food because we are blessed with beautiful land, amazing climate, fertile soils,- we need to know what kind of solutions farmers are currently using to climate change” .– She added
She mentioned that IUEA is launching its newest project called eSusfarm Uganda with partners from South Africa, a USSD code that has been created for smallholder farmers to create an efficient market for them through Airtel by dialing *222#. The code allows farmers to order different agricultural services, assists with major inquiries, and weather forecasts, furthermore linking them to local and international markets, in their local languages.
She said that the application will help to connect a farmer directly to a service provider for example it offers a free consultation, helps one to meet crop doctors, advice on which crops to grow, equipment and machinery hiring options, as well as, logistics for the farmer’s output.
She implored smallholder farmers to take advantage of this innovation because it gives them the opportunity to reach local and international markets directly rather than going through middlemen who may take advantage.
Yusra cited that Uganda is an agricultural state but our products are barely seen on the international market. There is a need for Ugandan products to be seen on the international scene but this entails educating farmers, improving food systems, and implementing international standards that sustain local markets first then look at export.
“I truly believe that the food we produce in Uganda is so tasteful compared to so many I have tasted out there. I wish people had the opportunity to taste our local avocado and small bananas, this is why IUEA is interested in this symposium”.– She emphasized.
“Our projects are directed towards smart agricultural solutions for farming through training and sensitizing the community as well as our students together to retain the best talents, focusing on value addition and bench-marking on higher standards”.– Yusra.
It is against this background that Yusra Alwi revealed that the International University of East Africa is interested in working together to create solutions to problems, in this case, food and water security. ‘The whole earth is made of 3% of fresh water, and Uganda is the Pearl of Africa because of its fruitful land and fresh waters (lakes, rivers) we must know how to keep them clean it is the only way we can reach where we need to be.
“It is therefore important to educate Ugandans on how crucial farming is just like other sectors, we need to able to convince financial institutions to invest in smallholder farming. This is one of the main reasons why we came up with eSusfarm Uganda to give financial institutions, government, and other organizations the data they need to make the right decisions during funding, equipment allocation, and others”. She remarked.
Furthermore, she said that with the recent launch of the recycling innovation lab, IUEA is looking forward to pursuing more climate change and food security opportunities.
By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
SIMPLE PICTORIAL, All Photos by Julis Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.