In a three-page declaration issued to mark World Food Day 2014 at the end of a three-day workshop in Mukono, Uganda, the faith leaders said scaling up faith-based approaches to agriculture was 'one of the most important steps we can take to fulfill our religious duty to care for God’s creation' while also caring for the poor and vulnerable.
The Mukono Declaration on the Role of Faith Communities in Promoting Faithful Farming also called upon governments and international organisations such as the United Nations to support faith communities in practising faith-based, climate-smart, sustainable agriculture.
The faith leaders, who were from eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa, said an Alliance of Faithful Food and Farming was needed to spearhead faith efforts in this area.
And after a lively discussion, the meeting of around 90 faith leaders, education specialists and environmentalists, voted overwhelmingly with just three abstentions to state their opposition to the use of genetically modified (biotech) seeds in agriculture 'on the grounds of integrity of creation, environmental concerns and social justice'.
International workshop on sustainable land management
The Declaration was produced after an intensive three-day workshop in which delegates shared best practice in sustainable land management. This included presentations on Christian and Muslim approaches to farming, as well as practical initiatives such as biosand water filters, charcoal briquettes and fireless cookers and environmental awareness raising such as the Greening Fridays campaign supported by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council during the second Friday of Ramadan.
The workshop included a day of field visits - to a Church of Uganda school which had just begun practising Farming God's Way; to a Christian farmer who is part of a women's group practising Farming God's Way; and to an organic farm.
Guests of honour included Uganda's Commissioner for Crop Production and Marketing, Beatrice Byarugaba, His Eminence Metropolitan Yona Lwanga of the Uganda Orthodox Church, the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda, His Excellency Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther, Stephen Muwaya, SLM coordinator, for the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries & Fisheries, and David Ombisi, of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Africa.