A request to post on my blog – The Humanist View – this direct challenge to Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo came through my blog, from a blogger who goes by “bedsireadings.” They asked me as follows: “Norah, will you please post this e-mail exchange. It is involves one of our legislators who believes that GMOs are the solution to our major problems of low agricultural production.”
The blogger assessed that The Humanist View was an effective channel through which to reach a significant readership of active citizens of Uganda and of the world. So in comment to one of my blog posts: “Modernising agriculture changes Uganda’s land use – are we prepared for the changes?” the request was made. I am flirted and exhilarated at the same time that The Humanist View is considered a significant thinking and discourse space. So here goes – I share below the direct challenge from a blogger and an active citizen to Prof. Latigo.
Prof. Latigo, you accuse me of talking to you like you are some peasant from the village, yet having many accomplishments among which you mention “considerably informed and highly responsible, principled and fairly respected national leader.” And a Farmer too, I may add.
And yes you are right. I use Internet to search for information, in addition to using it for other things as well. As a leader, you fought tooth and nail for land giveaway to the Madvhani Group of Companies to set up a sugar factory on 40,000 hectares of land in 2012. Last year things reached a boiling point with elderly women staging a nude demonstration against their land grab.
All along you have been at the forefront fighting to have GMO agriculture in Uganda, with slogans such as “Embrace Knowledge” and “Do not Stifle Progress” under the pretext that agricultural challenges among which is climate change cannot be overcome and produce enough food for a fast growing population without embracing agriculture biotechnology.
Supposing we got the 2012 GMO Bill passed tomorrow and for example Ugandans were given free Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) to plant, would you expect a higher corn yield during the drought season? According to your reasoning, we expect a “YES” from you.
However, considering your accomplishments, the fact of the matter is that you know very well it’s not GMOs that increase yield, it is irrigation. Otherwise, why would the U.S., a leader in GMO Corn assert:
Corn used 14 percent more irrigation water in 2013 than in 2008, according to survey results, while water use for all crops combined declined 3.7 percent (and 9 percent since 1998, the highest year on record.) Those are remarkable findings considering corn production also used more irrigation water than any other crop.
Does that sound like GMO Water Efficient Corn for America (WECA) is working? But it is not just corn only check out this report which finds that: Irrigation water is essential for keeping fruits, vegetables, and grains growing to feed the world’s population. This has been a constant for thousands of years. Estimates vary, but about 70 percent of all the world’s fresh water withdrawals go towards irrigation uses.
Research indeed finds that Large-scale farming could not provide food for the world’s large populations without the irrigation of crop fields by water gotten from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wells.
For Uganda, less than one percent of farms use irrigation while only five percent of commercial farms use irrigation as opposed to 100 percent of commercial and none commercial farms in the U.S. and other developed countries.
As you noticed, I do use internet search. Searching Prof. Latigo and irrigation, search results turned “0” found. Now, I could be wrong, but I tried various combinations and I still don’t find you advocating for what has been proven to work for centuries to increase food production even with GMOs and that is irrigation.
As a leader for your people, you advocate for giving away 40,000 hectares of land for sugar factory and introduction of GMOs as a solution, while people in your area – the Acholi – are advocating for rehabilitation of Agoro irrigation scheme started way back in 1966 by Obote 1 government! And then upgraded in 1970.
If these poor peasant cultivators can stand up and ask the government to provide them with what has been proven to increase agricultural production, and you are there calling for GMOs and land give away, is this the highly responsible, principled and fairly respected national leader you see in yourself for your people?
Uganda: Farmers Make Loses As Soils Run Out Of Water, and your solution is handing them GMO crops! But they know better how the government should be spending their tax money, they know what works all around the world even in the U.S., so please, stop misleading them.
Uganda: Farmers Want To Turn To Irrigation As Drought Drags On. For example, Check out what Iga, a chemical engineer turned farmer credits for his success, it not as much to chemicals as it is to irrigation! You can fool some people some time, but not all the people all the time.
Prof. as an educated farmer, don’t you use irrigation? If not, what is wrong with you? And if you do, then again, what is wrong with you misleading people that GMOs are the answer to drought?
“There is nothing and if the rains don’t come, it is going to be a catastrophe.” President Hifikepunye Pohamba appealing for aid from nations that depend on aquifer irrigation! Vast aquifer found in Namibia could last for centuries, yet people blame God for lack of water! The aid Namibia is going to get is Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), instead of agricultural irrigation technology! Look at Kenya! Kenya has aquifers in dry Turkana region.
But where is the government headed? Not doing the same thing done all over the world in developed countries, which is investing in agricultural irrigation, but going for Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) instead; just because they are told it’s free! It’s only Africans that still believe in a free lunch!