By The Inspirer writer.
Agriculture is key to human, animal health, and environment worldwide. Its productivity leads to increase in the income of the rural population which in turn leads to more demand for any possible input that can boost the yield and raise their economy.
However farmers need not only to rely on the use of industrial farm inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) which are alleged to be harmful to human health and environment, contrary to the use of natural/organic farm inputs which are environment friendly and harmless.
Mwebaze Johnson, Country coordinator of PELUM (Participatory Ecological Land Use Management) Rwanda explains that the industrial farm inputs, like chemical fertilizers do feed a crop only than feeding the soil and does not stop soil degradation or deterioration, unlike the use of organic or natural fertilizers which feed the soil and the soil feeds the crop.
HYBRID SEEDS AND GMOs
Mwebaze Johnson said referring to researchers that hybrid seeds are different from GMO seeds, that however there can be GM hybrid seeds. The hybrids of any kind are said to negatively affect human health directly or indirectly, sooner or later.
Some of such effects are; the Obesity, and other non-transmissible diseases, various forms of malnutrition, without forgetting the loss of food taste and food nutrients.
PELUM Rwanda coordinator defined GMO as partial modification of natural crop genes (at any percentage) to “boost the production and foster pest resistance” as normally put by promoters.
He however said that yield is not boosted by a single component of crop gene modification, but a set of components.
“PELUM Rwanda is not against any means that can boost yield/production, but rather raises concern on the other version of harmfulness of GMOs on human health and environment as put forward by some scientific researchers. And hence calls upon decision makers to vigilantly consider that concern as well”, PELUM Rwanda coordinator stressed.
He said that PELUM Rwanda thought of this GMOs awareness workshop after the previous local media news that Rwanda is undertaking the GMO testing on potatoes. “This rose concern with in some members of PELUM Rwanda who asked us to prepare GMOs awareness workshop for them”, he said.
“Technology can be effective in increasing agricultural produce but we have to look on challenges. For example, bees are dying due to pesticides, we risk to lose honey produce in 20 years later; while there are also organic pesticides which can be used. Concerned Government entities need to look on two sides: increasing agriculture productivity but also looking on the side effects modern fertilizers and GMOs can pose to consumers’ health and environment,” Mwebaze added.
Alex Uwizeye, the project coordinator of Agriprofocus, a Hollands organization that trains farmers and links them with markets said a farmer who cannot store seeds meets many challenges at the market and advised farmers to start thinking on that issue.
Agnes Mukayiranga, an official in Rwanda Africulture Board (RAB) in charge of Research said that GMO technology aims at tackling hunger problems through increased agricultural produce but it is not yet made adequate. She said that this technology will be communicated by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) after conducting a comprehensive research to assess if it can affect human health.
About PELUM Rwanda
PELUM Rwanda deals with Campaigning, Advocacy and Lobbing (CAL) and aims at improving organic farming through adequate trainings of farmers and local and international study visits where by farmers learn from best demonstrated plots.
“We also help farmers in finance mobilization as well as advertising their activities. PELUM Rwanda chapter has been operating in Rwanda since 2004 under PELUM Association as regional umbrella composed of 12 African countries.” Mwebaze explains.
The twelve countries include Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswathini, Botswana while Burundi and DRC are the new applicants who are ready to join the association.
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