Agroecology and Alternative Food Systems in Kenya and Uganda project is underway
“We are very proud to launch this project supported by Biovision Foundation”, comments Edie Mukiibi, Slow Food vice president. “Slow Food has been promoting agroecological practices for many years, achieving significant results and making a name for itself as one of the most reliable partners in the field. Through this project we aim to improve the livelihoods of local farming communities in Kenya and Uganda by promoting a transition towards an agroecological food system, building alliances and strengthening the contribution of Slow Food initiatives to making agroecology the agriculture of the future.”
The Agroecology and Alternative Food Systems in Kenya and Uganda project will run until December 2022. It will invest in partnerships with agroecological networks by developing links and synergies with other projects and organizations, strengthen Slow Food projects such as food gardens, Presidia and Earth Markets as successful cases of agroecological approaches, increase the Slow Food presence in local policy platforms which work on agroecology, and finally raise awareness among consumers of the benefits of agroecological products.
“Agroecological practices have already proven to be successful”, continues John Kariuki, coordinator of Slow Food Kenya and vice-president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. “Through this project we aim to speak about agroecology with one voice, strengthening existing partnerships and alliances with other organizations to demonstrate that the solutions offered by agroecology are viable but need further support.”
The world’s rich agricultural biodiversity is at risk, and with it the capacity of food systems to provide food security and dignified livelihoods. Despite an increasing global recognition of the importance of agroecology, it has received insufficient attention from policymakers and researchers, who have instead focused on expanding the yields of a few select crops with the use of improved seeds, hybrids and GMOs, as well as large quantities of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
In East Africa, the effects of climate change are affecting local communities with alternating periods of drought and localized flooding. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated a range of long-standing challenges such as the dependence of small-scale farmers on the purchase of seeds and fertilizers, limited access to markets and scarce availability of local, healthy and nutritious food at affordable prices.
Slow Food Kenya and Slow Food Uganda hold a set of promising approaches for strengthening the recognition of agroecology with a strong focus on networking, capacity building among farmers, the scaling-up of grassroots initiatives, promoting the benefits of eating agroecological food and advocating for agroecology with local governments and institutions.
Along with the Agenda 2030 and SDGs, the project’s purpose is in line with the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Agroecology has been spearheaded by the FAO in recent years and is receiving more interest worldwide from different institutions as an effective answer to climate change and the interrelated challenges facing food systems. Over the years, policies in East African countries have focused mostly on crop agriculture and intensive livestock breeding systems, neglecting the importance of indigenous crops, wild food plants and livestock breeds; rural communities have benefited little from the strong focus on agricultural growth. In Kenya the sustainable use of land and the boosting of household food resilience were recently defined as priorities in the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy 2019-2029. In Uganda, in 2019, a process for the development of a national strategy for scaling up of agroecology was started.