Once known as the ‘bread basket of Africa’, Uganda has abundant natural resources, fertile arable land and plenty of rain and sun. Before the war, Patongo was a settlement of a few thousand traders. But as refugees fled from other parts of the country during the war, its population swelled to 65,000s. Northern Uganda had never known starvation until the war stopped farmers from working their fields. This created a generation for whom traditional work such as farming is unknown.
We are developing three agricultural projects in Patongo to rekindle these vital lost farming traditions. With the support of Slow Food’s ‘A Thousand Gardens in Africa’ initiative, our partners are cultivating four vegetable gardens that will provide healthy food for the community, as well as passing on agricultural knowledge, and fostering community collaboration and income generation. One garden will be cultivated by our women’s income generating group, Ribbe Aye Teko (Women Are Strong Together) with Paorinher, a school for children who are HIV+ , another by our Community Outreach Counsellors, a third by 2,000 students at Patongo’s Youth Centre and the fourth by Gwokke Keni, an organisation in Patongo that comprises people with HIV offering outreach and support to others with HIV.
Vegetable gardens are an accessible source of healthy food and extra income. They encourage an awareness of local plants and biodiversity, respect for the environment, sustainable use of soil and water, and the safeguarding of traditional recipes. Furthermore, adequate nutrition is essential for people who are receiving treatment for HIV.