Relating beauty to agriculture

Uganda is praised for its gender-sensitive policies and laws but the agricultural sector is still tainted with gender inconsistencies and inequalities.

According to a paper, Rural Women and Information in Uganda, written by Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), female ownership of land in Uganda is only seven per cent, female control over food crops is 30 per cent, female control over cash crops is just nine per cent while female extension staff is a mere 12.7 per cent.

“Despite the above inequalities, women contribute to 88 [per cent] of agricultural labour force, an activity that contributes to 76 [per cent] of Uganda’s economy. Women’s traditional roles in agriculture are still influenced by their reproductive roles therefore, taking on responsibility for food production and security for their families.

They have also taken up to cash crop farming within their small-scale farms although the majority do not control the earnings of the produce.”

Conventionally, beautiful young women tend to be associated with white collar jobs and not with strenuous work in gardens. However the organisers of the 20152016 Miss Uganda contest did the unusual and yet most appropriate thing when they related it to farming.

We were treated to footages of the young ladies tending crops on our TV screens. The August 5 Crop Biotech Update report devoted considerable space to Zahara Nakiyaga and how she won the Miss Uganda crown.

It reported, “Zahara Nakiyaga impressed judges and the public with her answer when asked about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Prior to the crowning ceremony, Uganda Biosciences Information Centre (UBIC) organised a week-long agricultural boot camp for the contestants. They were introduced to various crop agricultural technologies, including genetic engineering.

In the laboratories, the contestants interacted with Ugandan scientists involved in the production of GMOs. The current GM research in Uganda aims to address some of the difficult challenges affecting farmers, and other priorities such as reducing malnutrition especially among young children. Zahara disclosed that the agricultural camp improved her understanding of modern agriculture before declaring that she would pass it on to other youths during her reign.”



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