The world is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis. Climate change, deforestation and water scarcity, all of these are having a devastating impact on our planet. Fortunately, there are ways we can combat this destruction by taking simple steps to protect our environment. One such step is planting fruit trees!
Uganda, the fruit basket of Africa with its favourable climate and fertile soils is blessed with a variety of flavourful, fresh, nutritious and delicious fruits such as over 50 banana varieties, pineapples, passion fruits, sour soup, jack fruits, Palm fruits, African Elemi, mountain paw paws and more in different agroecological zones.
However, due to limited knowledge about indigenous, local and traditional fruits, deforestation, and invasion of foreign fruits through importation and their local growth that encourages monoculture and requires intensive care and lots of synthetic chemical use, the production and consumption of indigenous, local and traditional fruits is gradually decreasing. Today, most juices on the market are highly processed and imported which has discouraged farmers to grow their own fruits since they are less marketed. In addition, the few juice making factories are made to process imported fruit varieties leaving the indigenous, local and traditional to waste. Regarding consumption, fresh fruit juices are more nutritious than processed ones but most school going children are not aware of this.
Recently, Slow Food Uganda organized the 10th Edition of the Fruit and Juice Party under the theme “Plant and Grow The Future: Planting Fruit Trees To Save The Environment And Improve Human Nutrition”. This was organized at Alpha Day and Boarding Primary School in Amach Town Council, Lira district on 19th April 2023.
This was graced by the District Education Officer of Lira district who was the chief guest and other prominent guests including the Mayor and Town Clerk of Amach Town Council, members of Slow Food Communities from the Lango Sub Region and parents. The event attracted over 400 students from 4 schools. This event aimed at promoting sustainable production and consumption of a variety of indigenous, local and traditional fruits among school going children with specific objectives like educating participants about how fruit trees play key roles in climate change adaptation as well as teaching them how to prepare healthy fruit salads & juices for better nutrition. This event also intended to promote innovations & creativity among pupils and students using fruits while also sensitizing them to plant fruit trees in their school gardens and compounds.
As part of this initiative, participants were educated on how fruit trees play a key role in climate change adaptation as well as how they can be used for nutrition purposes. Children were engaged in educational activities including debates, quizzes and juice making competitions as they also had keynote speeches from the leaders, teachers and the president of Slow Food International. They were also encouraged to prepare fruit salads/juices using these locally sourced ingredients while promoting creativity among pupils and students with their recipes!
By doing this, we hope that more people will be aware of their role in protecting our environment by making conscious decisions when it comes to what they eat or consume on a daily basis which ultimately helps us fight against climate change effects, conserve natural resources, preserve biodiversity and so on. Also, due to the nutritional benefits of fruits, sensitizing people to broadly consume them will help improve overall health conditions, especially for children who need proper nourishment for physical growth.
In her remarks, Ms. Harriet Aboko, the Town Clerk of Amach Town Council mentioned that the Town Council of Amach will ensure that all the schools are sensitized on this cause of growing fruit trees to ensure accessibility and affordability of fruits to all children.
“Slow Food in Lira district has come to stay, and for us, we know Slow Food not as an organization but as a great network that works to ensure safe and nutritious food that cares for the people, the producers and the planet” Ms. Harriet Aboko, Town Clerk, Amach Town Council.
At the host school, 10 different types of fruit trees were planted which will provide future generations with access to healthy food choices that are both nutritious & environmentally friendly! As a result, all participants were sensitized on why producing & consuming indigenous fruits is so important for our planet, something we should all strive towards achieving daily!
Overall, events like The Fruit & Juice Party provide valuable educational opportunities that can have long lasting impacts both on the environment and also on nutrition since attendees gain insight into how they can incorporate a greater diversity of fresh produce into their diets which is ultimately key in improving human nutrition over time if implemented properly. Such events go long way towards raising awareness about the importance of preserving nature’s bounty so that future generations may continue enjoying its gifts!
The Fruit and Juice Party is an annual event organized by Slow Food Uganda in different schools to promote Biodiversity conservation, food education and networking. This is done through several activities among teachers, pupils and Slow Food members all aiming at the production and consumption of indigenous, local and traditional fruits. Some of the schools have adapted the event and through the skills obtained, some schools have incorporated fruits as part of their menu and planted more fruit trees.
The activities mentioned are funded by the Biovision Foundation https://www.biovision.ch/en/home/