National Organic Agriculture Policy Launched in Entebbe

Entebbe, 29th September 2020. The Honourable Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has officially launched the National Organic Agriculture Policy. Hon. Ssempijja was accompanied by Hon. Hellen Adoa the Minister of State for Fisheries at the launch of the policy at the Ministry Headquarters in Entebbe.

The policy formulation and launch process were made possible by collaboration between MAAIF, the Development Partners Working Group Representatives, the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda, Participatory Ecological Land Use Management and the Advocacy Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture.

A copy of the National Organic Agriculture Policy that was launched by the the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is downloadable using the link below.

https://www.agriculture.go.ug/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/National-Organic-Agriculture-Policy.pdf

What is Organic Agriculture?

Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system.” (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1999).

Importance of Organic Agriculture

The Global demand in organic products is continuing to grow, creating market opportunities for smallholder organic farmers and SME companies. Currently, the global organic market exceeds Euro 80b. This rapid development has been partially attributed to a shift in consumer demand. Today, the market is looking for products that meet the following parameters:

Sustainability (How was it produced?)

Traceability (Where does it come from?)

Transparency (Who benefits most?)

Organic agriculture is replete with economic, environmental and socio-economic benefits.

Organic agriculture can enhance farmers’ incomes through increased productivity and premium prices offered by the market. This leads to improved food and nutrition security as well as better livelihood.

Organic agriculture permits sustainable production of diverse food, fibre and industrial materials that are essential for our survival and economic development. It allows recycling of nutrients that are otherwise threatened by ecosystems’ deterioration under conventional systems. This protects soil, landscape and enhances biodiversity which helps to reduce climatic changes such as global warming and drought.

The opportunity of organizing small holder farmers into cohesive groups offered by organic agriculture makes information exchange, technology dissemination and marketing easier, thereby enhancing community identity, innovation, gender balance, self-reliance and empowerment. In so-doing, Organic Agriculture can build and enhance the knowledge, skills and practices of local and indigenous communities and can offer an avenue for new science, technology and innovation adaption and implementation.

Globally, consumer concerns about food safety are on the rise. Many people are increasingly becoming aware of the dangers of chemical residues in inorganically-produced food and their health impacts. Organic food is said to be relatively safer.

Overview of Organic Agriculture

The organic export market has continued to recognise Uganda as a major player. The local market for organic products is also growing steadily. On the global scene, Uganda has the second largest number of certified organic producers (210,352) only next to India. In Africa, Uganda has the second biggest certified organic land (262,282), next to Tanzania. Uganda’s Export Market Value exceeds $ 50m. The most traded items include beverages (Coffee, Cocoa), Sesame, Chia seed, frozen fruit pulp, Fresh/dried fruits (pineapple, apple banana, mango, papaya, jack fruit, passion fruit), spices (Vanilla, chilli, ginger, cardamom, black pepper), herbs, essential oils, and Shea butter/nuts.

Although certified Organic agriculture in Uganda started in 1993, development of organic agriculture was slow till 2001.Faster growth started with the founding of the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU), an umbrella organization uniting producers, processors, exporters and other traders, business support organizations as well as other stakeholder institutions involved in the organic sector in Uganda. The lack of supportive, legal, policy, and institutional framework to support organic agriculture development limited provision of tailored and strategic support to farmers with a deliberate decision to practice organic agriculture and tap into the wide potential it possesses nationally, regionally and internationally.

In 2004, NOGAMU together with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the Organic Export Fraternity began lobbying government through Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF) for an Organic Agriculture Policy that would regulate the organic agriculture sub-sector. Since then, MAAIF embarked on formulation of the National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP) together with other key stakeholders. The process was finalised in 2018 resulting in three required documents namely the Draft National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP), the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and the costed Implementation Plan. MAAIF sought government approval of the policy and the NOAP was finally approved on the 29th of July 2020.

Working in collaboration with NOGAMU, PELUM Uganda, Advocacy Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture (ACSA) and other key stakeholders, MAAIF is now preparing to launch the NOAP on 29th September 2020.

Purpose of the Launch

To present the National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP) and Implementation Plan to stakeholders.

Objectives

To disseminate the approved National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP) 2019 and Implementation Plan to different stakeholders.

To kick-start the implementation of the NOAP and Plan.

To generate ideas for initiating the Organic Agriculture Bill and Organic Agriculture regulations.

Significance of the launch

The National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP) is a unique policy that was intended to enable the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to regulate, coordinate and harmonize the efforts towards harnessing Uganda’s competitiveness through organic agriculture. Launching and disseminating this policy will increase visibility and appreciation of the NOAP among stakeholders and contribute to credibility of the organic sub-sector. The launch will also enhance targeted actions towards organic production and development of the local and export organic markets that will contribute returns to the national economy.

The NOAP and Implementation plan (Annex 1) were launched scientifically on 29th September 2020 by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).  The national launch was preceded by week-long activities starting on 24/09/2020 (Program, Annex 2).

Launch Participants

50 participants attended the National Launch and dissemination event. These included Members of Parliament, Officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and its Agencies, Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), Ministry of Local Government (MoLG), Ministry of Science and Technology, Development partners,  Non-state Actors, Academia, media and other organic agriculture practitioners in the country.

Expected outcomes from the launch

Increased investments in organic agriculture in Uganda.

Organic agriculture included in curricula of schools and institutions of higher learning.

Increased Organic Agriculture share in agricultural GDP

Organic Agriculture Bill initiated.

Notes for editors

About the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is a Ministry in the Government of Uganda charged with creating an enabling environment in the Agricultural Sector.

The Ministry formulates, reviews and implement national policies, plans, strategies, regulations and standards and enforce laws, regulations and standards along the value chain of crops, livestock and fisheries.

Vision: A competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector.

Mission: To transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.

Strategic Objectives

  • To initiate the formulation and review of the policy and legal framework for the sector
  • To establish and implement systems for service provision in the sector
  • To strengthen and implement strategies, regulatory framework, standards, institutional structures and infrastructure for quality assurance and increased quantities of agricultural products to access and sustain local, regional and export markets
  • To design and implement sustainable capacity building programmes for stakeholders in the agricultural sector through training, re-tooling, infrastructure, provision of logistics and ICT
  • To develop strategies for sustainable food security
  • To develop appropriate agricultural technologies for improved agricultural production, productivity and value addition through research
  • To develop effective collaborative mechanisms with affiliated institutions and
  • To take lead and establish a system and institutional framework for agricultural data collection, analyses, storage and dissemination to stakeholders including Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is made up of four Directorates including the Directorate of Crop Resources, Directorate of Animal Resources, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services and the Directorate of Fisheries Resources each with Departments, Divisions and Partnership Projects.

The Departments of the Ministry which do not fall directly in the above include the Department of Agricultural Planning and Development, the Human Resource Department, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production.

The Ministry is also made up of seven Agencies including the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Cotton Development Organisation (CDO), Dairy Development Authority (DDA), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Coordinating Office for the Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda (COCTU) and the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB).