Food Rights Alliance - Our partner in creating a world free from hunger

Oruukit Farmers’ Group members during a cassava variety yield tasting in Pader district. Photo credit:Oxfam

The world produces enough foods to feed everyone but up to 795 million people of whom 70% are directly involved in production are malnourished. UNFAO also estimates that 800 million people go to bed hungry daily. Interestingly 80% of the food consumed in Asia and Sub Saharan Africa are provided by 500 million small scale food producers who unfortunately face many challenges including insecure access to land, water and seeds, limited access to markets, knowledge and credit and decreasing yields as a consequent of extreme weather events. It is expected that due to population and economic growth, impacts of climate change, competition for land and water, demand for food will grow by 70% by 2050.

These challenges require more just food systems characterized by favourable local, national and global public policies that promote and protect prosperity and resilient of small-scale food producers, agricultural workers and vulnerable communities particularly women. If women have equal access to resources as men, yields on their farms would increase by 20–30%, which would reduce the number of hungry people by 12–17%.

To this effect, as the Food Rights Alliance work in partnership with Oxfam in Uganda to address the highlighted challenges. We are a coalition of over thirty (30) members and began operations in 1999 with the aim of bringing together organizations and individuals working on food, agriculture and related policies. Our vision is to live in ‘a world free from hunger and malnutrition.’ Our work involves:

  • Mobilizing communities and the public to actively participate in the pre and post budget engagements with special focus on agriculture financing;
  • Designing and implementing several campaigns aiming at creating an enabling environment for farmers to produce food sustainably and meet the food and nutritional demands for the people in Uganda and in the region. These among others include, the campaign for an inclusive Agricultural Extension Service for all farmers launched and engaged government on various policy processes including the formulation of the National Seed Policy, the Plant Variety Protection Act 2014, and the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012.
  • The alliance has been instrumental in the mobilisation and coordination of the wider Non-state actors to influence structural policy processes and improving Non-State Actors’ engagements with government. For e.g. sector planning processes ranging from budgeting to joint sector reviews of mainly land and agriculture ministries.

These activities are achieved through media engagements such as one on one interviews, Radio and TV talk shows, writing policy briefs and alternative policy statements as well as formal and informal meetings with Government MDAs.

Together with Oxfam in Uganda we have successfully championed inclusion and acceptance of the Right to Food partners in policy engagements and decision making through platforms such as budget meetings and national planning forums where we ensure that the right to food is prioritized. Subsequently, the directorate of extension is now operational at MAAIF, recruitments at the district level amounting to 616 extension workers which is 40% has been effected and 2446 extension workers which is 65% at sub county level has been realised. Additionally, for the budget year 17/18, government allocated 39Bn as non-wage.

Some of the challenges have largely been:

  • The 10th Parliament is largely concentrating on discussing and consulting on the proposed constitutional amendments especially article 102(b). This might draw some policies found in the process of making a step back, yet they had passed some crucial stages, the seed policy and plant varieties Act.
  • Added to this, the public is drawn to those processes, which gives parliament chance to sneak through some policy processes without the public contributing much or even discussing them thoroughly.
  • On the other hand, the debate of the presidential age limit has put some NGOs at crossroads with the security organs that seek to blackmail NGOs and suffocate their activities.

Nonetheless, we are working to turn around some these challenges through collaboration, collective action and checking and holding the duty bearer to account constantly.

Jude Ssebuliba, FRA