Though indigenous seeds species have long been part of Bunyoro’s cultural heritage, only few people have sustainably been involved in storing and exchanging them.
This trend has been attributed to the introduction of ‘high yielding seed varieties’ in the region, eroding indigenous species of Maize, Beans, Millet, Sorghum, Cassava and Pumpkins that critics say is a threat to food security.
Joram Basiima, the NAPE Sustainability School Programme community Educator from Kigaaga village in Buseruka Sub-county explains that planting indigenous food crops helps farmers to be food secure and that indigenous seeds can later kept for seed revival through conservation to prepare for subsequent seasons.
“Unlike modern seeds, indigenous varieties are disease resistant, high yielding and unaffected by harsh climatic conditions hence take long years before weakening thus can be readily stored for food security” says Basiima.
Despite Uganda being one of the fastest growing economies in Africa through Agriculture, there is still hardship of widespread poverty, hunger and malnutrition caused by food insecurity due to adoption of ‘modern seeds’ over indigenous plant species.
Norah Bahongye from Kigaaga Oil Residents Women Drama group (KORECWODA) says indigenous leguminous varieties such as beans, pigeon peas and groundnuts were instrumental for food sovereignty stored in granaries right from the olden days preserved by local methods of storage.
“Local preservation methods like mixing seeds with crushed red pepper to kept away weavils than chemicals that are dangerous for both the seeds and human health” explained Ms. Bahongye.
Communities in different places in Bunyoro sub-region have taken to using traditional granaries to store food as a way of combating food insecurity currently prevalent through Food Sovereignty campaign launched by National Association of professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in 2015.
Byabasore Amos, an indigenous farmer from Kigaaga believes indigenous seed storage has declined due to ‘modern seed varieties’, which he says was not the case in the ancient days.
“Our tradition of food storage is worn by ‘modern seeds’ that they say mature faster and only serve a short period yet there has to be a sustainable storage to curb food insecurity” Byabasore explains.
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) in 2015 initiated Food Sovereignty campaign in Bunyoro to promote and revive indigenous seed species through storage process to having sustainable fight against food insecurity by use of granaries and multiplication gardens to revive the seeds.
Since the end of 2016, there has been an unprecedented rise in food insecurity where millions of people are in urgent and dire need of humanitarian assistance due to consecutively poor rainfall, rising food prices and insecurity which continuously worsens the situation.
Compiled by Dorcus Drijaru