For the first time, Slow Food Uganda organized an Agroecology Learning Exchange for its members and partners, bringing together representatives from the Slow Food Uganda Agroecology working group, regional coordinators, project leaders, food community representatives, partner organizations, and the media. The 3 days exchange was held from 6th to 8th of January 2022 with 42 participants from all regions of the country.
The event kicked off with educational trips to Rural Community in Development ( RUCID) Organic Agricultural College, Esben Ecological Farm in Mityana district and Homeland Organics, Royal Farm, and Emma’s Farm in Mubende district.
The Learning Exchange was intended to create an interface among the agroecology players and discuss the means of amplifying this practice. The other specific objectives were to share knowledge and experience across regions on intensifying agroecology, to strengthen relationships among members, partners, and allies who practice and promote it in Uganda, and to motivate its implementation.
This activity also included a panel and a gallery walk. These created a platform for knowledge and experience sharing, talks on different topics, and the transfer of best practices among the participants.
In this exercise, for the visits to the Mubende and the Mityana districts, the farmers were divided into two groups. The team in Mubende went to Homeland Organics, which is also an agritourism center, Royal Farm, and Emma’s Farm, while the team in Mityana visited RUCID Organic Agricultural College and Esben Organic Ecological Farm.
They learned a range of techniques such as permaculture, organic farming, agroforestry, practices like vermiculture, apiculture, and more. The sessions were facilitated by Mr. Tumwebaze Julius and Mr. Ssebaddeka Elisha. These visits motivated discussions through plenary sessions for the participants who also had an opportunity to share with the hosts some agronomic practices, considering ways on how to overcome some of the challenges that agroecological farmers face.
“The agroecology learning exchange may have targeted the participants but as the hosts, we also learned a lot from the suggestions and recommendations given by the participants that were highly appreciated and they are going to be implemented.” Ruth Namuleme, Esben Ecological Farm.
A group of 9 panelists was conducted to share ideas on different topics and experiences in their field of work. Among them, there was a journalist, a teacher, a researcher, a lawyer, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representative, a women representative, an indigenous people representative, a plant doctor, and a farmer.
The themes discussed included the role of media in communicating Agroecology, the promotion of the practice in schools, how the plant doctors are helping the communities in overcoming challenges of pests, diseases, and soil degradation by using the agroecological approach, also the issue of land grabbing and how it’s being handled by the CSOs and other advocates, as well as ways the indigenous people can be more empowered, and the challenges for women in Agroecology.
“This Learning exchange has shown me that we crucially need; research, training and demonstration centers, biodiversity conservation/preservation center, cultural and social activities, advocacy and promotion of local Agroecology markets. I realized we have a lot of ideas to put together” said David Ojuu, an agricultural researcher from Serere district.
During this session, the participants presented the work they do to amplify agroecology to others. This was presented by each individual and represented a way to learn each other’s efforts.
The activity concluded with encouraging remarks from Mr. Gerald Kizito from Caritas Kampala. The members were thrilled with this learning exchange and they committed to carrying on the message to many other colleagues with the aim of disseminating the message of Agroecology.