Slow Food Uganda Wins at the National Agroecology Action week 2023

The Agroecology Week of Action, organized by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Uganda, served as a platform for like-minded Civil Society Organizations, and individuals to come together and uphold the cause of agroecology. From the National Agroecology Actors Symposium, Agroecology Market Systems Expo, to the Indigenous Food and Seed Fair, the five-day event was a dynamic and comprehensive display of the power and potential of agroecology. The Slow Food Uganda’s invaluable participation in this week-long event aimed to raise awareness, foster knowledge exchange, and inspire action towards a more just, resilient and equitable sustainable food system. The Slow Food Uganda participation in the Agroecology Week of Action provided a critical opportunity for the selected Slow Food Communities to share experiences, showcase success stories, and discuss the challenges faced by small-scale farmers and other Agroecological Actors.

PELUM Uganda, an umbrella organization comprising over 60 civil society organizations, has long been organizing this annual event of the Agroecology Week of Action, which has become an inspiration for empowering the small-scale farmers, stakeholders, and communities in driving positive change towards a more resilient and sustainable future for food and agriculture through fostering a deep-rooted commitment to promoting agroecology as a transformative approach to farming. The outstanding activities organized have made this event a platform for knowledge exchange, capacity building, and advocacy for sustainable food systems.

Throughout the Agroecology Week of Action, participants were treated to a diverse range of activities, including panel discussions, exhibitions, and cooking demonstrations. Slow Food Uganda’s active involvement in these events brought forth their expertise in promoting traditional food cultures, fostering food sovereignty, and advocating for the preservation of local food biodiversity.

By bridging the gap between policy and practice, the Agroecology Week of Action aimed to influence decision-makers and stakeholders to prioritize agroecology as a viable solution to the challenges facing our food systems. Through engaging dialogues and thought-provoking presentations, this event provided a space for critical discussions on issues such as climate change, food sovereignty, and rural livelihoods. Slow Food Uganda’s participation further strengthened the credibility and impact of these discussions, drawing attention to the importance of preserving traditional knowledge and promoting sustainable farming practices.

Here is the highlight of Slow Food Uganda’s participation in all the events that happened during the Agroecology Week of Action:

National Agroecology Actors Symposium

Slow Food Uganda’s participation in the side event focused on “Consumer and Market Led Mechanisms for Scaling up Agroecology” during the National Agroecology Actors Symposium was instrumental in highlighting the crucial role of Earth Markets in promoting and expanding agroecological enterprises. During this side event, John Kiwagalo from Slow Food Uganda shared insights and experiences on how Earth Markets can contribute to scaling up agroecology entrepreneurship. He emphasized the importance of Earth Markets in raising awareness among consumers about the benefits of supporting agroecological practices for environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and improved nutrition.

Slow Food Uganda’s participation in this side event was key in sharing success stories and best practices from the Earth Markets network, highlighting how market-led approaches can attract farmers to adopt agroecological practices, leading to improved livelihoods and sustainable agricultural systems. The insights and recommendations shared by Slow Food Uganda during the side event served as a call to action for policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders to integrate consumer and market perspectives into their strategies for scaling up agroecology.

Agroecology Market Systems Expo

One of the highlights of the Agroecology Week of Action was the vibrant market expo, where agroecological entrepreneurs from across Uganda showcased their organic produce and traditional food products. This unique platform not only celebrated the richness and diversity of local agricultural practices but also provided a direct link between agroecological producers and consumers who value sustainable and diverse nutritious food. Through showcasing the Earth Market and the Slow Food Cooks Alliance model, Slow Food Uganda played a crucial role in emphasizing the significance of supporting local economies and short supply chains as well as promoting food that is good for people, the planet, and communities. Milly Namakula, a dedicated member of the Dembe Catering Cooks Alliance, skilfully prepared the renowned Nyasaland Arabica coffee sourced from the Nyasaland Coffee Presidium in Mbale district. This local processed coffee was proudly showcased and served alongside the delightful local sweet bananas sourced from the robust BOCOVACO Food Community in Buikwe district. The esteemed presence of Mr. Abitekaniza Johnson, the Assistant Commissioner of MSME Training and Business Skills Development at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives who represented the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, as the chief guest of the day, further raised the significance of the occasion. During his visit to the Slow Food Uganda stand, Mr. Abitekaniza Johnson had the opportunity to gain deep insights into the remarkable work carried out by Slow Food Presidia, Earth Markets, Cooks Alliance, and Food Communities. This provided the minister with a deeper understanding of how these initiatives actively foster agroecological markets, thereby enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Over 100 visitors had an opportunity to taste the flavours of Uganda’s Nyasaland Arabica Coffee.

During the engaging panel discussion, John Kiwagalo delved into the pivotal role played by Earth Markets in fostering agroecological markets. Earth Markets, as highlighted by Kiwagalo, serve as platforms for fostering innovation and implementing initiatives that prioritize the principles of sustainability and biodiversity protection. Kiwagalo’s insights shed light on the significance of Earth Markets in creating connections between producers and consumers, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and promoting agroecological practices for a more resilient food system.

Indigenous Food and Seed Fair

Slow Food Uganda was part of over 100 exhibitors who participated in the Annual Indigenous Food and Seed Fair that happened for 2 days, showcasing their commitment to promoting cultural and biological diversity. The event provided an excellent platform for Slow Food Uganda to exhibit their diverse range of initiatives, including exciting displays of the Slow Food Garden, Earth Market stalls, and seed banks, as well as highlighting the important work of the Cooks Alliance.

Dr. Paul Mwambu the Commissioner for Crop Inspection and Certification who represented the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as the chief guest at the Indigenous Food and Seed Fair visited the Slow Food Uganda stand which further amplified the significance of the participation. During his visit, Slow Food Uganda emphasized the crucial role of supporting small-scale farmers in certifying their innovative practices. They stressed the need for policies that not only recognize and value the contributions of agroecological farmers but also provide them with the necessary support and resources to effectively utilize their innovations.

During the event, an array of indigenous seeds was showcased by dedicated farmers representing various Slow Food Communities. This exhibition not only provided a platform for farmers to display their valuable seed diversity but also facilitated seed exchanges among participants from different organizations. The collaborative spirit of the event allowed for the sharing of traditional seeds, ensuring their continued cultivation and protection.

Moreover, visitors were treated to a delightful gastronomic experience as members of the Cooks Alliance skilfully prepared a range of local dishes, showcasing the incredible diversity and flavours of the Uganda’s cuisine. From traditional delicacies to innovative culinary creations, the Cooks Alliance demonstrated the richness and versatility of local foods. Additionally, guests had the privilege of enjoying the renowned Nyasaland coffee, sourced from the Nyasaland Presidium, which further highlighted the exceptional quality and taste of Uganda’s coffee heritage.

The exhibition of indigenous seeds, food, artisanal materials, domesticated animals, poultry, clean energy technologies and locally made agroecological inputs coupled with the tasty offerings from the Cooks Alliance and the Nyasaland coffee, provided a memorable experience for visitors, fostering a deep appreciation for the cultural and culinary heritage of Uganda. This vibrant celebration of local food traditions and agricultural biodiversity showcased the vital role played by Slow Food Communities in promoting sustainable practices and preserving the unique flavours and traditions of Uganda.

In his opening remarks during the Food Fair, Edward Mukiibi, the president of Slow Food International and Vice Chairperson of PELUM Uganda emphasized the importance of local farmers’ initiatives in enhancing the protection of local food biodiversity. “Women, youth, indigenous peoples and men who are small scale farmers are the custodians of our biodiversity. These are the true people who are nourishing and feeding this country and no one should take this away from us.” Edward said. He added that biodiversity and culture are linked together and biological and cultural diversity is the foundation of every country’s food system.

Best Exhibitors’ Awards

Slow Food Uganda gained a well-deserved recognition by winning the prestigious award as the Best Exhibitor at the Annual Food and Seed Fair. This achievement did not only highlight Slow Food Uganda’s solid commitment to promoting biodiversity and supporting small-scale farmers but also underscored their significant contributions to fostering a more sustainable and inclusive food culture. Slow Food Uganda’s recognition as the best exhibitor in the Annual Food and Seed Fair serves as evidence to their significant impact in promoting sustainable food systems. The exceptional display at the fair captured the spirit of their mission, captivating visitors with a vibrant and diverse range of exhibits. The organization’s booth stood out through its thorough curation, showcasing indigenous seeds, traditional food varieties, and innovative farming practices. The passion and dedication of Slow Food Uganda members were clearly evident, as they shared their wealth of knowledge and engaged visitors in meaningful conversations about the importance of preserving local food heritage.

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Busiinge Aggrey
Busiinge Aggrey
Business Aggrey" is a 23-year-old Ugandan journalist and Editor-in-Chief at The Black Examiner newspaper