I come from a country (Uganda) where the major economic activity is agriculture. Coming from the central region of Uganda, each of us usually has a village (home to grandparents usually) where we expect to find banana plantations, all local food in farms, and an abundant supply of fruits and wild berries. Well, that is as it used to be. Nowadays, when visiting the villages in areas surrounding Kampala, one usually finds gardens, with produce
These treasures are usually unnoticed by the inhabitants and many – especially is just enough to feed a handful or at most an average family, and yet these gardens lie on lands enough to feed a whole apartment for two months each season.
the youth seek to sell off their land to go to the city in search for greener pastures, damning the harsh/hostile climate, poor quality produce after months of hard work, low returns, unpredictable weather patterns, unreliable market – which experiences glut during the peak production seasons but is exorbitantly expensive during off seasons such that a farmer may not even afford to buy what came from his farm (using his production returns) if he found it on the market.
The unbalanced returns from the hard work in agriculture and poor but consistent practices have led to losses and discouraged many farmers, especially the youth. As a result, the average age of a farmer in Uganda is 54 years.
Growing up to see the hardworking men and women toil day and night in the gardens, only to come out with a failed crop is one of the saddest phenomena one can experience. It negates one of the most profound sayings in the Luganda language, which says that “the hoe doesn’t lie” literally meaning that when you put in effort at farming (or anything) you get returns. Sadly, this has not been an over all experience for all farmers.
While pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Statistics at Makerere University, I served as the finance minister of the Students guild. After my graduation, I knew I wanted to do more than just reporting figures. I wanted also to take action to ensure that the next figures reflect a better situation. In addition, I wanted to ensure that those figures are used to make informed decisions and take desirable action.
This, therefore was one of my main motivations for working with Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU), a youth led NGO that aims at jointly combating climate change, youth unemployment and illiteracy by leveraging on tree planting. The landscape approach by TAU simply enables young to set up tree nurseries; TAU markets them to enable the young people get start up capital (TreeCapital) or school fees (Trees4School) and the fruit trees are planted along the boundaries or the farmlands in rural areas.
This holistic approach not only enables the rural farmers and communities to gain extra nutritional benefits from the fruits, but the fruit trees protect their land, act as wind breakers, modify the climate, provide shade, shed their leaves to improve soil fertility, prevent soil erosion and can also complement family income from fruits sold. I am currently the program Director at TAU. I believe that knowledge sharing is one of the best gifts humans possess and, personally, being able to do that gives me great satisfaction and motivation for improved strategies.
Moreover, I believe that if we take care of the environment and the resources we have, we can gain more from the proper utilization, conservation or protection (where it is needed) of these resources. I am therefore glad to have the opportunity to participate and share ideas under the “Finance and Trade” Landscape challenge at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum and I look forward to the event itself.