Mak Alumnus Transforming Lives Through Urban Farming and Micro gardening

For so many years, Uganda’s agricultural sector has been famed to be the backbone of the country’s economy. To date, however, numerous imperative findings have pointed out that Uganda hasn’t maximally exploited the incalculable potential of this sector in transforming lives.

Outdated agricultural methods are one of the pointed out causes of this phenomena. As a university that strives to provide innovative teaching, learning, research and services responsive to national and global needs, Makerere university continues to contribute to building a strong human resource base that is ready to impact social change across all sectors of development.

With its emphasis on modernizing agriculture, Makerere University has for long provided solutions to the looming challenges that are crippling the agricultural sector. Through its strong field-based research initiatives, the University has generated technologies and identified innovative approaches for improving agriculture and ensuring positive changes in farmers’ livelihoods.

How we can use the polyethene bags to grow vegetables in our small gardens or compounds. (Image Credit: MUK)

This has been backed by laboratory experiments and the introduction of courses such as Agricultural Sciences, Agribusiness management and, Agricultural and Rural innovations.

One product of these initiatives is Agriculture for Health and Wealth (AHW), a demonstration and training farm in urban agriculture. The farm is co-founded by Kafuuma Joseph, Ssebagala Harold and Tumuhimbise Enock; alumni of Makerere University who graduated in 2017 with BSc Agriculture (Crop Science) degree.

AHW is an innovation that started as a model farm. Located at Kijjabijo, 9km from the Gayaza Trading Centre along Kayunga road, the now fully-fledged demonstration and training farm sits on one and a half acres of land.

Mr Kafuuma showing the team from Makerere University some of the crops that he and his team have been able to grow.

According to Mr Kafuuma, AHW has developed modern innovations and technologies that are needed for urban farming with a nursery bed and seedling production area for vegetables, spices, fruits and agroforestry seedlings. The farm has also expanded to conduct onsite and field training on modern and urban farming, crop protection as well as recycling bio and non-bio degradable refuse.

In an interview with Mr. Mpindi Percy Christopher and Ms. Nabatte Proscovia, the Assistant Communication Officer Makerere University Public Relations Office, Mr. Kafuuma said that the big knowledge gap that exists between institutions of higher learning and communities prompted him and his friends to create a demonstration (model farm) upon which they can extend knowledge and skills obtained from the degree program to the community.

“We realized that there is too much information, new ideas and innovations generated at universities. However, most of this knowledge does not reach intended users and these are the farmers. For so long we have lacked a medium through which constructive knowledge and technologies generated by universities can reach the community to improve the agricultural production,” he said.

Tomatoes being grown in the backyard of the house without necessarily having to depend on an entire garden. (Image Credit: MUK)

One and a half years down the road, the team has developed unique labour and resource-saving technologies allowing growing of crops on a small piece of land and in containers; enabling even a landless tenant in a single-roomed apartment to have sufficient food for domestic consumption and surplus for sale.

“Some of these technologies include sack gardening (AHW sack mound), vertical gardening, mobile gardens, rack gardens, hanging gardens; enabling even people with compounds on lawn, pavers, tarmac or concrete to grow crops without affecting the integrity of their compounds,” said Mr Kafuuma.

With a small compound and such containers, one is able to grow their own vegetables that they can use for home food. (Image Credit: MUK)

He said that the technologies also facilitate recycling of non-biodegradable rubbish like polythene and plastics by using them as micro gardens for raising crops. “The biodegradable rubbish such as food leftovers is converted into composite manure which is used to enhance plant nutrition. This recycling scheme helps to minimize blockage of waterways and spread of water-borne diseases.”

Through technical advice on setting up and management of agricultural investments, AWH has enabled many pensioners and retirees to harness returns from their hard-earned benefits. While the Government of Uganda is looking at agriculture as a focal sector in fighting unemployment among the youth, Mr Kafuuma says that urban agriculture and micro gardening is a virgin area that the youth can tap into.

The story is picked got from Makerere University

Also read, MTN Uganda Joins the Rotary Cancer Run

Author: Moses Echodu

Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!

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