Promoting Sustainable Agriculture Policy Change During Covid-19 Crisis
The CEA program optimized accessible media platforms such as radio and whatsapp groups to ensure continued capacity building in advocacy for farmers in order to sustain efforts towards the attainment of stronger policy frameworks on access to quality food and markets for smallholders .
A national lock down on movement of citizens ordered by the government of Uganda during the planting season in Uganda aimed at preventing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic within the country. However this affected regular face to face interactions between smallholder farmers and key government technical service providers such as extension workers, which had been previously facilitated by the CEA program.
The resultant gap in convention of community dialogues to advocate for lasting change and reduced access to information on proper farming practices by CEA partners, coupled with uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic led partners in Lira, Soroti and Abim districts to optimize accessible media platforms such as radio and whatsapp groups to ensure continued capacity building in advocacy for farmers.
Through interactive regular spot messages and talk shows, district leaders were able to interact with farmer representatives on issues ranging from the impact of Covid-19 on access to quality agro-inputs and markets to the need for enforcement of agricultural policies and laws that protect the rights of smallholder farmers along agricultural value chains, such as the National Seed Act.
The interactive talk shows, which were conducted on popular radio stations, reached over 500,000 community members in Karamoja, Teso and Lango regions of Uganda. They enabled smallholder farmers to highlight their challenges to their district leaders via phone calls and text messages. They also provided an open platform for district leaders to create awareness among smallholder farmers on how to access government development programs at district level, and increased their capacity to draft informed plans and budgets that reflect the actual needs of community members and are highly responsive to priority issues.
The Civic Engagement Alliance is a joint collaboration between Dutch and southern Civil Society Organizations that advocates for smallholder farmers to access quality and nutritious food, as well as markets. During the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in Uganda, implementing partners were at the forefront of innovations to sustain programmatic gains for smallholder farmers in Karamoja, Lango and Teso sub regions. The program is implemented by Advance Afrika, NGO Forum, Share An Opportunity, Church of Uganda Teso Dioceses Development Offices (COU-TEDDO), Arid land Development Program and Facilitating Peace and Development (FAPAD), with support from ICCO Cooperation.