Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’


Sowing the Seeds of a Food-Secure Future

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By Dana Drugmand

Worldwide, 195 million children suffer from malnutrition, which adversely affects their development and overall well-being. Approximately 26 percent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. And according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the number of malnourished children in the region will rise 18 percent between 2001 and 2020. Fortunately, innovations such as school feeding programs and kitchen vegetable gardens are working to combat malnutrition and hunger in African children.

Schoolchildren in Uganda are learning how to grow fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens funded by Seeds for Africa. (Photo Credit: Kellogg)

One organization, Seeds for Africa, has been instrumental in helping children gain access to local, nutritious fruits and vegetables. A central part of this organization’s work is teaching children the value of growing their own food by helping them to establish kitchen gardens and fruit tree orchards. Seeds for Africa funds kitchen vegetable garden development at primary schools in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

In Kenya, Seeds for Africa coordinator Thomas Ndivo Muema has helped primary schools in the Nairobi region establish vegetable gardens and orchards of 200 fruit trees and has also supplied water tanks. In Uganda, fruit trees and vegetable gardens have been established at 77 schools around Kampala, the capital city. And in Sierra Leone, Seeds for Africa coordinator Abdul Hassan King has helped oversee tree planting projects in 50 primary schools and advised kitchen vegetable gardens operating at 15 other schools.

In 2011, Kellogg UK donated £6434 (US$9,946) to Seeds for Africa to fund “breakfast clubs” in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia—clubs in which schoolchildren are fed breakfast if they attend class. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, some 60 percent of children come to school without having eaten breakfast, if they attend school at all. By providing a nutritious breakfast, the initiative helps to improve attendance as well as academic performance and student well-being. Results from breakfast club trials indicate that students who participated scored better on school tests and were happier overall than students who did not participate. School attendance also increased to 95 percent.



Saturday Series: An Interview with Aturinde Emmanuel

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By Molly Redfield

In our new Saturday Series, we interview inspiring people our readers have nominated. These people are working on the frontlines to improve the global food and agricultural systems. Want to nominate someone?  E-mail your suggestions to Danielle Nierenberg!

Name: Aturinde Emmanuel

Affiliation: Hunger Fighters Uganda

Aturinde Emmanuel is the Executive Director of Hunger Fighters Uganda (Photo credit:

Bio: Aturinde Emmanuel is the Executive Director of Hunger Fighters Uganda (HF-UG). Before he worked at HF-UG, he worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant for the United Nations World Food Programme in Uganda. Emmanuel graduated from Duisburg-Essen University in Germany with a master’s degree in development and governance and from Makerere University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science. His research focuses on agriculture, development policy, and food and nutrition security with a special focus on development innovation.

In 2008, participants of a UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Continuing Agriculture Education Center (CAEC) course dubbed ‘Hunger in the 21st Century’ established Hunger Fighters Uganda.

What roles did the WFP and the CAEC play in the organization’s founding?

The most important thing about the WFP and CAEC course was that it focused on the causes, effects, and possible responses to hunger. By looking to address these issues, the course connected many of its participants. After the course training, myself and some of my classmates and instructors were able to initiate Hunger Fighters Uganda. We started out by monitoring the food that is given to refugees in Uganda. The WFP and CAEC course sparked the idea for HFU, but we’ve been able to do what we do because of our staff. This is especially true in regard to capacity building and having other resources to do our work. Our staff now includes people beyond the initial few who participated in the WFP and CAEC course.

What is the hunger situation in Uganda?

Hunger in Uganda affects over 8 million people. Many Ugandans face something referred to as hidden hunger, a deficiency in micronutrients. The lack of micronutrients, especially of vitamins, iron, and iodine, is referred to as ‘hidden’ because it does not show up immediately. It is only clear later when a person’s immune system is compromised and other opportunistic diseases manifest. So we focus on hidden hunger, most notably in the northern and northeastern parts of the country. These regions experience the highest level of malnutrition.



Advocating for Rural Development at Rio+20

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In an effort to ensure the sustainability and continued development of Kikandwa, a rural community in Uganda, 56-year-old farmer and teacher Kaganga John communicated his concerns this week at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro.

Danielle Nierenberg, Kaganga John, and Heather Box (cofounder of the Million Person Project) at the Rio+20 Summit. (Photo credit: Kaganga John)

Kaganga is a Ugandan leader and environmentalist who understands the needs of rural communities in developing nations. To improve the current and future standard of living in his village, he has advocated for reforestation, established a public school, and helped farmers diversify their crops.

“My community [Kikandwa] was lagging behind in terms of infrastructure–the environment was so mismanaged, there was no food, some people were going to bed hungry–so I had to go back and do some contribution so that they can improve on their livelihood. Since the 10 years I have been with them, together they have improved on their livelihood. But we would like other people–national and international–to join us so that we can make even better our community than it is.”

His ultimate goal is to preserve the changes he has made via dialogue with world leaders.

To read more about Kaganga John and his role as a BOLD food fellow, please visit his blog page, watch this video of Kaganga speaking about the Rio+20 summit, or read this Huffington Post article about Kaganga’s efforts.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Mobile Phone Technology Improves Farmers’ Fortunes in Uganda

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By Laura Reynolds

Remote, mountainous, and hard-to-reach areas like Uganda’s Kabale district suffer from inadequate access to information of all kinds. Because the region, located in the southwestern corner of Uganda, is predominantly agricultural, timely and relevant information for farmers in Kabale would significantly help improve their livelihoods.

Life Long Learning for Farmers in Uganda sends agricultural information to farmers through text and voice messages. (Photo credit: L3F Uganda)

A mobile phone application developed by the project Life Long Learning for Farmers in Uganda (L3F Uganda)  is helping Kabale farmers get the information they need. The project sends text messages with agricultural updates and information to about 1,000 farmers. This information, disseminated twice weekly by L3F Uganda, has helped farmers get valuable guidance on market access, fertilizer application, plant spacing, timely planting, local diseases, and other topics. The project is a partnership of Commonwealth of Learning, Makerere University’s Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo, and local community organizations, and was instituted as a pilot project in Bufundi, a sub-county of Kabale, in 2009 with the hope of extending it to all of Uganda.

The main aim of L3F Uganda is to help solve the many challenges farmers confront in the region. These include inadequate road networks, preventing farmers from getting to markets; a lack of credit and financial services; volatile market prices; and a lack of up-to-date information about seeds, weather patterns, appropriate fertilizers, pests, and other agricultural issues. Traditionally, the government’s agricultural extension service was the main source of information for farmers in Uganda, but the current ratio of extension workers to farmers in the country is 1:24,000, rendering the service largely ineffective. In Bufundi, the ratio is 1:46,000.



Strengthening Food Security with Grain Amaranth Production

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By Moses Tenywa 

Moses Tenywwa is the Director of the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) in Uganda. This article was originally posted in Uganda’s Daily Monitor.

A crop indigenous to Africa, amaranth is highly versatile—it grows easily and prolifically in the humid tropics, survives in high altitudes and is a well-known “drought crop” that thrives in hot and dry weather. In Uganda, there are over 60 varieties of amaranths (locally known as dodo) but most of these are eaten as leafy vegetables yet other varieties are just fed to animals and others are regarded as weeds.

Indigenous to Africa, amaranth is a versatile, nutritious and lucrative crop. (Photo credit: MUARIK)

In the past two years, Access for Action Uganda (ACFA), a local nongovernment organization operating in Wakiso district and Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) has been promoting the production of grain amaranth. This is one of the fastest growing amaranth varieties with a maturity period of only 75 days, as compared to other grain crops, such as maize, millet, and sorghum whose maturity period is between 115–120 days.

When planting grain amaranth, a farmer will only require one kilogram (around 2.2 pounds) to plant one acre of land which costs UGX 2,500–3,000 (US$1–1.30). In order to attain maximum yield, a farmer needs to thin the seedlings twice: after 2–3 weeks of germination and after 2–3 weeks from the first thinning. After 75 days, one can harvest the head using a knife and then dry the grain for 4–5 days. After drying, one must sieve the grain and ensure that it is not contaminated with dust.



Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change

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By Jeffrey Lamoureux

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change (CSACC), a roundtable of senior natural and social scientists from across the globe, recently released its Summary for Policymakers. The commission is working to promote concrete policy recommendations toward achieving food security in the face of climate change, and its summary is a synthesis of its final report, due in early 2012. Aimed at global policymakers at the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban and the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit, CSACC hopes to bring agriculture into discussions of climate change mitigation.

At the local level, sustainable intensification of production must be achieved (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

“Efforts to alleviate the worst effects of climate change cannot succeed without simultaneously addressing the crises in global agriculture and the food system,” said Dr. Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, which convened the independent commission in February 2011.

The global food system is plagued with structural issues: a billion are hungry while another billion over-consume, and inefficient practices cause tremendous amounts of waste and make agriculture the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. As the world’s population grows, the tastes of an ever-expanding middle class lean towards consumption of resource-intensive protein-heavy diets, and climate change threatens to disrupt much of the world’s arable land, the food system could reach critical thresholds. “Food insecurity produces widespread human suffering, even in the world’s wealthiest countries, as well as political and economic instability, so it is clear the status quo is not an option,” said Commissioner Professor Tekalign Mamo, Advisor to the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture.



Shea: For people and planet

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By Kim Kido 

Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa, nilotica) is one of few trees that can withstand the harsh, semi-arid climate of the Sudan and Guinean savannas and the Sahel. Hardy, drought-resistant, and with fireproof bark, the uses of the shea tree are numerous and ancient, dating back to the 1300s.

Woman processing shea kernels into butter. (Photo credit: TREE AID)

Tools and coffins are made out of the wood, while the wastewater from processing seeds acts as a pesticide against weevils. The tree provides forage for sheep and goats as well as food for people. The sweet pulp of the fruit, similar to an avocado, is eaten fresh, providing a valuable source of nutrition early in the rainy season when food can be scarce. And, the tree’s flowers can be added to salads.

The shea tree also provides many environmental benefits. Farmers often intercrop the shea tree with cereal grains where they help to prevent wind erosion, provide shade, and contribute organic matter to the soil.

The uses of the shea nut are most widely known and offer the highest economic value. The seed contains a kernel that is eaten fresh, roasted like almonds, or processed to extract shea butter. Shea butter is traditionally used as a waterproofing material for houses, a cosmetic, a primary source of vegetable fat in cooking, and as a medicine for treating various skin diseases, arthritis, and other ailments.



Community Livelihood Strengthens Food Security at Grass Root Level

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By Alex Zizinga

Alex Zizinga is a Natural Resource Scientist and young food activist working with grass root farming communities in Nangabo sub-district leading the Community Livelihoodhood Project in Uganda to address the most significant constraints to reviving agriculture with small-scale farmers and natural resource management in schools and  rural communities. 

BOLD Food Fellows at a recent visit to Worldwatch. (Photo credit: Worldwatch)

In Uganda, it’s an unfortunate trend that small-scale farmers in my community will give up and begin a new career if they don’t find agriculture profitable enough to sustain their families. The Community Livelihood Project (CLP) believes that this doesn’t have to happen, though.

CLP’s central objective is to increase food security from farm to household to the community level through strategic partnerships and educational outreach. We advocate for increased food production, better availability and access to food, higher quality modeling and promotion of community-led grass root organizations, and gender-sensitive food and income options. All of this is meant to inform policy and scale up production.

“No doubt our scientists and researchers have done a lot of work to boost the sector, shaping it on the basis of modern technology; but still its benefits have not percolated to small scale farmers of the country,” a senior farmer said in Bamba.



Red Maasai: hardy and disease resistant

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By Graham Salinger

In the developing world up to 1 billion people rely on livestock for food and income. Livestock production is the fastest growing sector in agriculture worldwide and remains an important way to improve diets and increase incomes in the developing world. With the demand for animal foods projected to double in developing countries over the next twenty years, less well-known livestock breeds contain valuable resources that could be vital to food security.  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that around 1,710 breeds of livestock—21 percent—are at risk of extinction worldwide. As animal breeds are shrinking, indigenous livestock breeds will play a critical role in future food security.

Indigenous to northern Tanzania, south central Kenya, and Uganda, the Red Maasai East African sheep could have a big impact on food security. (Photo Credit: ILRI)

The Red Maasai East African sheep, also called Tanganyika Short-tailed, is a hardy breed of sheep indigenous to northern Tanzania, south central Kenya, and Uganda. The Red Maasai, which are distinct for having red hair instead of wool, are used primarily for their meat.

While other sheep, known as Dorpers, were imported to East Africa from South Africa, Red Maasai have become a proven resource for farmers in recent years because of their resistance to worms and adaptation to semi-arid climates. Red Maasai  are known to be resistant to a number of parasites, making them popular among the local population.  Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have begun cross breeding the Red Maasai with Dorpers in efforts to pass the worm resistance on to other breed. Leyden Baker of ILRI  predicts that farmers could see sales from wool and meat drop by as much as 40 percent as the worms grow resistant to drugs and sheep start to die prematurely.



Nourishing the Planet TV: It’s All About the Process

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In this week’s episode, research intern Jenna Banning discusses the benefits of processing. By providing the right tools and services, organizations such as the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) and the East Africa Dairy Development, are helping farmers improve their livelihoods and communities.


To read more about processing, see Innovation of the Week: It’s All About the Process 

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.