Oxfam, a humanitarian organization, has provided guidance to farmers in the northern region on the cultivation of local food plants. The aim is to ensure better nutrition, food security, and the preservation of plants with medicinal properties.
The advice was given during the conclusion of a farmer-managed seed systems caravan organized by Oxfam in partnership with Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda, held in Apac municipality. Muhindo Jackson Rukara from Oxfam stressed that these food plants are at risk of extinction, even though they are known for their nutritional benefits.
Rukara encouraged farmers to engage in seed multiplication for these plants and share them with others to increase production. He believes that by emphasizing the importance of these plants, more people will be motivated to grow them independently.
The initiative aligns with Oxfam’s vision of reducing inequality, food insecurity, and poverty in the country. Rukara explained, “We are striving to see a country free of poverty and inequality, and we believe that the seed program is one way to help people overcome poverty.”
The high-nutrient plants identified by Rukara include malakwang, carrots, simsim (sesame), pumpkin, groundnuts, leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and garlic, among others.
Oxfam, in collaboration with partners such as PELUM Uganda and the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Farmers` Forum, conducted a farmer-managed seed systems caravan in various sub-regions for five days. This initiative is part of Oxfam’s broader effort to enhance food security and nutrition within farming communities.
Christopher Ocen, a farmer school facilitator, emphasized that many indigenous food plants, such as green beans, were disappearing, despite their disease resistance, drought tolerance, and high nutritional value. However, through farmer field schools, efforts are being made to restore, adapt, and improve these plants.
Molly Ajok, from the Waribucing farmer field school, highlighted the vital role these plants played during the COVID-19 pandemic. She pointed out that people initially used these plants but stopped due to challenges related to preparation, taste, and the availability of seeds. The goal now is to address these challenges and promote the consumption of these nutritious plants.
Joel Oyela, the chairperson of the Apurpetur farmer field school, mentioned that each member has shown interest in growing these plants and plans to sell them to other communities in the near future.