FARMERS from five districts in the West Nile region in North Western Uganda are upbeat about the prospect of growing genetically modified disease-resistant cassava following a recent training workshop organized by Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC).
“We have been misinformed and misled on the subject of GMOs by our political leaders and activists. I cannot over-emphasize how much potential this technology has for us as farmers,” noted Sarah Alezuyo-a farmer from Maracha district. Mary Abiria, a farmer group from Yumbe district declared, “We need this disease-resistant (GM) cassava now!”
Cassava is a staple for millions of people, especially in northern and eastern Uganda. The crop has for decades been devastated by cassava brown streak and cassava mosaic diseases.The National Agricultural Research Organization in Uganda has developed cassava resistant to these diseases using modern biotechnology tools. However, farmers cannot access this technology due to the absence of a requisite law.
The training was meant to sensitize the farmers on modern biotechnology, biosafety, best practices for cassava production and post-harvest handling. Over 70 farmers representing close to 60 farmer groups from five districts attended the workshop. They promised to call on their political leaders to ensure that the legislation permitting commercial release of biotech crops in Uganda is passed.