Right to Food- The Pasture seed model

Although pastoralism is compatible with dryland conditions, pastoralists are among the most food-insecure of the world’s people. Pastoralists are particularly vulnerable to droughts. The long dry spells reduce water and forage availability on the rangelands, which creates an imbalance between the number of livestock and available fodder. In pastoralist areas, the livestock become emaciated and die or have to be sold preemptively. Different land actors, government and pastoralist organisations like Food and Agricultural Organisation, Ministry Of Agriculture and COPACSO have been engaging pastoralists on pasture growing. COPACSO under the right to food project worked with partners and pasture growing group members in Karamoja to engage in pasture growing to increase pasture production food security. Click here for detailed copy

Project background

Coalition of Pastoralist Civil Society Organizations (COPACSO) is a membership organization that seeks to provide a platform for civil society organizations to engage with policy formulation and advocacy for the recognition of pastoralism as a way of life.

In 2016, COPACSO supported by Oxfam with funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA)  started implementation of a Right to Food (R2F) project to encourage pasture growing through a model called pasture seed model. Different pasture varieties such as centrosema, Rhodes grass, and glyricidia were piloted in Kaabong and Kotido involving (5) pasture growing groups with total membership of 160 pastoralists. The varieties are climate resilient, fast maturing, palatable to livestock, and commercially attractive. This was aimed in the long run for pastoralists to embrace pasture growing and processing to improve availability of hay for livestock throughout the year and increase their (livestock) health productivity which will lead to household food and nutrition security. The project contributes to strengthened knowledge and capacity of the pastoralists in planting, storing and harvesting, storage and postharvest handling of pasture varieties for their livestock there by increasing their productivity.

During the project period Pasture demonstration gardens were established in five sub counties of Rengen, Nakapelimoru and Panyangara in Kotido district and Sidok and Loyoro sub counties in Kaabong district. Currently, there are five pasture growing groups in the two districts involved in pasture growing.

COPACSO is aiming at scaling up of pasture growing to enable more pastoralists both direct and none project participants engage in pasture growing so as to increase feed supply for their livestock. It is organizing an engagement with pasture growing group members to establish pasture seed banks. As part of the establishment of the seed banks, the pastoralists will revisit and redevelop their visions and sustainability plans. The seed banks in their communities will be a center where selected good quality pasture seeds will be stored, marketed for sale. During the engagement, a pasture seed security committee will also be selected with the aim of ensuring increased access to seed. The committee will include the production team, quality control and marketing. These will be charged with ensuring that members focus on producing quality seeds in bigger quantities and the marketing team will create linkages with Nabuin ZARDI so that they are able to access market for their products.

Current Situation

Over 160 Pastoralists from different families in Kotido and Kaabong have been engaged in the Community Pasture Seed Model.  It promotes pasture seed (a climate resilient, fast maturing, palatable to livestock and commercially attractive variety) and the pasture is currently being promoted by Nabuin ZARDI. It promotes community resilience through availing pasture for livestock especially during droughts and seeks to minimize trans-boundary animal diseases and conflicts among the pastoralist communities

This has been done through trainings in processes of pasture management from planting, harvesting, post-harvest handling and feeding livestock and now they have capacity to have a practical and harmonized approach to community-led seed security, have technical capacity to identify, multiply, improve and distribute or share good quality seed and get alternative source of income through sale of surplus seed.


Increasing demand for pasture/feed for livestock especially during droughts to increase community resilience, Pastoral migrations, transhumance leading to spread of animal diseases both within the country and across boundaries and conflicts among the pastoral communities, Low livestock productivity and animal health supply of animal feeds affecting food security- 50% Karamoja people are food insecure, High poverty levels that call for alternative income sources by sparking commercial pasture seed and pasture as tradable commodities

The critical challenges in the pasture model promotion among pastoralists is limited to limited access to nutritious seeds from research institutions by pastoralists, Inadequate  extension services, financial and limited market access i.e. Seed companies in Uganda are not interested , thus, not investing in pasture seed production and marketing.

Emerging challenges and Opportunities:

Pasture seed is a key resource for pasture improvement. It is necessary for development of productive grazing pastures particularly to support dairy production which is extremely demanding in terms of feed resource requirement, Production of pasture seed in Uganda has not received much attention due to absence of a pasture seed production scheme. Seed companies in Uganda are not interested in investing in pasture seed production and marketing. As a result, there is consistent shortage of pasture seed in the country, The existing seasonal pasture seed stocks produced by small-scale farmers (usually research groups) are often very limited in quantity. Furthermore, only small quantities of pasture seed are usually produced at the agricultural research institutes, The scarcity of pasture seed also renders it costly and hence unaffordable for smallholder farmers. As a result, farmers fail to improve their pastures and depend on natural ones which cannot produce the desired levels of livestock productivity, Pastoralists have for millennia lived in rangelands that are characterized by highly variable natural resource allocation in time and space, making pasture along with other natural resources like water, some of the key assets of pastoralists, Demarcation of local government and international boundaries has increased competition for land and water resources by both pastoralist and non-pastoralist populations, Appropriation of pastoralist land for public and private investment has also impacted negatively on the availability and accessibility of pasture for pastoralists’ livestock.

However, strengthening pastoralist communities by technically equipping them  to produce their own pasture seed and manage their own pasture, they can sustainably produce and manage pasture for their animals and also contribute to their household food security.

The group has earned income from selling pasture seeds and they started Village Saving and Loans Association which is helping us to support in generating school fees for children. The conflict with the Turkana and cattle rustling have been very much in Karamoja last year this forced many households to keep calves at home for security purposes. At this moment they needed pasture and it was a dry season. As a group, we divided the pasture garden among us and everyone was able to feed the calves throughout the period until the rain season started. By Lochoch Lokwi – Group leader-Panyangara Pasture Growers


We are calling upon the pastoralists to embrace pasture seed growing for rangelands management, restoration and protection. At same time as the government of Uganda through ministry of agriculture to priotice pasture growing especially in the cattle corridor.

YRP proposal endorsed by FAO Council

In its 165th Session held on 30 November to 4 December 2020, the FAO Council endorsed the draft FAO Conference resolution submitted by the 27th Session of Committee on Agriculture (COAG) on the observance by the UN of an “International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists” (IYRP) in 2026.

The draft resolution in the annex of the Council report recognises that pastoralism is a dynamic and transformative livelihood linked to diverse ecosystems, cultures, identities, traditional knowledge and historical experience of coexisting with nature. It regards healthy rangelands as vital for contributing to economic growth, resilient livelihoods and the sustainable development of pastoralism.

It realises that rangelands and pastoralism have suffered from “benign neglect” in many countries. It stresses that natural resources need to be legally protected in order to manage grazing areas, wildlife, water sources, livestock movement, risk and resilience, and to enable land-use planning and ecosystem management by pastoralists and public entities. It points out that well-developed and fair production pastoral value chains can provide equitable economic opportunities.

It recognises the work of FAO, the scientific community, NGOs, pastoralist associations and other civil society actors in supporting sustainable rangelands and pastoralists. It also recognises the relevance for the work of the UN Environment Programme, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) together with intergovernmental, private sector and civil society partners.

It points to the link between the IYRP and UN’s proclamation of the Decade of Family Farming and the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and acknowledges that efforts to achieve sustainable rangelands and pastoralism could help realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It urges Member Nations to continue or increase responsible investment in the pastoral livestock sector, including for sustainable land-management practices, improved or restored ecosystems, access to markets, livestock health and breeding, and enhanced livestock extension services, in order to improve productivity, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and maintain and enhance biodiversity.

The Council stressed that costs for the implementation of the IYRP are to be covered by extra-budgetary resources to be identified.

The FAO Conference will meet on 12–16 July 2021. If it endorses the resolution, this will be considered in the next session of the UN General Assembly in September 2021, asking the Members to declare 2026 as the International Year of Rangeland and Pastoralists.

The documents from the FAO Council meeting can be found here, also in several other languages:

http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/council/cl165/documentsSee this press release also on the IYRP website: www.iyrp.info under Follow the UN process.

FAO: Policy support and Governance gateways

Young herder taking livestock for grazing in Lolelia sub county, Kaabong District. Photo Credit Loupa Pius

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN has recently published the policy support and governance themes to support countries, institutions, civil society and academia in policy development.

The FAO Policy Support and Governance Gateway is the go-to place for the organization’s policy work. It hosts 1,300 policy resources and tools, 29 policy theme pages and 5 regional pages. The dedicated pastoralism and sustainable livestock policy theme pages shed light on FAO’s animal production and health policy work and offers numerous policy briefs, guidelines and analytical tools.

On Pastoralism UNFAO calls for Promoting dialogue for pastoralist-friendly policies and regulations read more here

The policy themes as state that to achieve its mandate and assist countries the best way possible, FAO works on priority policy issues. Highlights of each major policy theme are given below find here. Each theme presents key FAO policy messages and provides links to further sources of information, resources and partner initiatives.


Connecting the dots between soil and agroecology for food security and climate action. Digital Campaign on Agroecology for Healthy Soil For Immediate Release

Date: December 4, 2020

  • Agroecology provides the most favourable soil conditions for plant growth, particularly by managing organic matter and enhancing soil biodiversity
  • Agroecology promotes the type of farming that feeds the soil and revitalize the ecology.
  • Healthy, nutrient-rich, biodiverse soil is the basis for a healthy ecosystem, healthy and nutritious food, and a natural way to mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • Agroecology is Africa’s future for healthy, nutritious, and resilient food systems

[Kampala, Uganda, December 4, 2020] – The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) joins the international community for the observance of World Soil Day on December 5, 2020, that celebrates healthy soils for a food-secure future. This year’s campaign, “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity,” aims to highlight the growing challenges in soil management and soil biodiversity loss and the pressing need to improve soil health worldwide.

AFSA strongly believes conserving agricultural biodiversity and maintaining soil fertility is among the most urgent and grave challenges of the global fight for food security and climate action.

To this end, AFSA launches a two-day social media campaign to join the international community on World Soil Day 2020 (#WorldSoilDay) and lead the African voice for agroecology and food sovereignty. The theme of our campaign, “Agroecology for Healthy Soil,” intends to establish the urgency of embracing agroecology to solve the soil crisis and restore soil fertility and territorial landscape degradation.

For more reading and connection to the event please check Alliance for Food Soverignity in Africa (AFSA)

IGAD: E.Africa ministers call for free movement of pastoralists

  • November 21, 2020
  • Written by AARON GAD ORENA
Photo from Observer paper 2020

The ministers have called for free movement of pastoralists

Agriculture ministers from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region have called for the adoption of a protocol on transhumance that would ease the movement of pastoralists across member states.

IGAD is a regional integrated block that was created in 1986 to promote trade among other things and comprises of eight member states, that include Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda.

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The process of developing the protocol was set in motion by the need to secure the survival of migrant pastoral communities, who sometimes move across borders in search of water and pasture for their animals.

The protocol formulation process that has been majorly consultative thus far is informed by the African Union continental policy framework on pastoralism as well as the regional and bilateral agreement between IGAD member states who seek to maximize pastoralism’s economic potential while minimizing animal disease spread.

For more details about the article read more from the observer paper

REUTERS: Uganda’s nomadic herders feed the country, but under pressure to settle down: activist

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Africa’s nomadic cattle herders have for years come under pressure from governments and farmers to settle down and stop their livestock roaming, destroying crops and creating conflict along the way.

While herders are often portrayed as straying onto farmland, it is farmers who first encroached onto the nomads’ grazing land, said Benjamin Mutambukah, coordinator of the Coalition of Pastoralist Civil Society Organisations (COPACSO) and a passionate advocate of the herders in Uganda. Read more here

Uganda must recognize land owners’ and indigenous people’s rights

20 years after Uganda signed the convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights a UN committee conducted the first review ever. Local NGO’s took the opportunity to raise the voices of Uganda rights holders

Read more

CESCR Concluding Observations in Uganda

Gitte Dyrhagen Husager
A UN committee has made a landmark statement, urging the Government of Uganda to recognize owners’ land rights among local communities, including pastoralists and other indigenous communities.
COPACSO, one of DCA’s partners advocating for rights of pastoralists in Uganda, called it “a historic step” in putting the rights of pastoralists and indigenous peoples on the national and international agenda.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) also called on the government to combat corruption, address food insecurity, and to respect the independence of the NGOs and their activities in defending human rights.
The UN recommendations were published following a thorough examination of Uganda’s human rights record in Geneva on 10-11 June. Many of the recommendations reflected key concerns expressed by civil society.

UN review delayed by 20 years

Although Uganda signed the convention in 1987, this was the first review by the CESCR in Uganda’s history.
Given this momentous opportunity, DCA facilitated local partners’ inputs to the process and organized a delegation to Geneva in cooperation with the National Coalition on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and FIAN.
John Musinguzi, DCA’s program officer who followed the process, said that the review “raised the voices of Ugandan rights holders on economic, social, and cultural rights.”
Reflecting on the outcome, he said it marked ”an important step in the way towards better adherence to human rights in Uganda.”

Indigenous communities’ right to land recognised

A key concern for the UN committee was the lack of formal land titles and cases of land grabbing and forced evictions.
In Uganda there are many examples where local communities are not properly consulted before their land is given away to projects, for example in the extractive mining sector.  
The UN committee pointed to the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens. If examples of land grabbing take place, the government should provide just compensation to those affected.
The UN was especially concerned about the fact that indigenous communities are denied access to their ancestral land. COPACSO had pointed this out in advance of the review in an oral statement to the Committee.
In clear speech, CESCR now recommends that ”the State party recognise indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and natural resources”, and that indigenous communities are consulted to give them free, prior and informed consent, before land is seized, in accordance with international standards.
Following the review, COPACSO said that this landmark statement by the UN “addresses the historical injustices faced by pastoralists and other indigenous peoples of Uganda”.

Space for civil society

Another strong point from the UN Committee was regarding the current draft NGO Bill, gazetted on April 10 2015 in Uganda.
The bill includes a number of provisions considered neither in keeping with Uganda´s own constitution, nor in line with its international human rights obligations.
The bill gives the government excessive discretionary and oversight powers and includes a number of vague provisions that risk being arbitrarily applied either not to give operating permits or to dissolve critical civil society organisations.
The UN Committee called therefore on Uganda to amend the bill to respect the independence of NGOs and their important work on monitoring and defending economic, social and cultural rights.
DCA and its partners will follow up and monitor the implementation of these recommendations.https://www.danchurchaid.org/articles/un-uganda-must-recognize-land-owners-and-indigenous-people-s-rights

Our Land is Our Life — AFSA

When spiders unite their webs they can tie a lion ! Civil society webinar on rural development in Africa Date: October 16, 2020 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm CET Organiser: AFSA (African Food Sovereignty Alliance) SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Commission in Africa and Madagascar) AEFJN (Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network) CGLTE-OA (Convergence globale des […]

Our Land is Our Life — AFSA

Pastoral women video on COVID 19 in Karamoja — Arid Landscape Initiative ALIN Africa

Pastoralists are not static to change. But are responding to emergencies with the rest of the world.

Pastoral women video on COVID 19 in Karamoja — Arid Landscape Initiative ALIN Africa

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease of humans caused by a coronavirus newly discovered in 2019 – SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and continues to spread around the world including Africa, where the number of cases is steadily increasing. As of 2nd November 2020, there have been 46,403,652 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,198,569 deaths. Overall in Africa so far there are; 1,328,278 cases  confirmed and the death toll stands at 30,000 as of November 2020 according to the WHO, CDC 2020  and Africa CDC report.

In Uganda as per the WHO november 2020 report, 12791 cases were confirmed, with deaths standing at 114 standing at 0.98% of all cases in the continent and this rate is anticipated to increase. This growing rate in the cases plus uncertainty of when and whether this will end has left quite a number of ugandans discombobulated. The struggle for how to cope with the virus given the unpredictability of the situation triggers questions of how the various sectors and groups in the country and beyond are dealing with the new normal especially given the fact that the impact by far across all sectors is ground breaking and has left many devastated. More details coming..