Uganda: Young food advocates come together to discuss how to improve and transform food systems in their communities

When young food activists from diverse cultural backgrounds come together and engage in learning experiences, it can become a powerful moment of knowledge exchange.

Learning about farming practices, cultivation, preparation and appreciation of what is good, clean and fair enables democratic and ethical change in the food system. The basic level is crucial, because it is the young people who can build the future.

Slow Food Uganda and SFYN Uganda organized the 2nd edition of Good Food Camp from May 27-29, 2022 in the country’s Buikwe district under the theme: Reconnecting Youth for Food Systems Transformation.
This initiative aims to give young people a space to reconnect and share how they can be part of activities that transform production and the chain across regions.

Over 150 young people from across East Africa from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania came together for three days of Good Food Camp.

The camp brought together young people from different professions. Farmers, fishermen, cooks, journalists, elected officials, agrifood sellers, students, artists, processors, transporters, researchers and partner organizations have come together to share their experiences around food and deliberate on the issues affecting their territories.
Camp activities were aimed at educating participants to understand the dynamics of the food system, digging deeper into different policies and rights, as well as building youth leadership capacities. These activities include food talks, cooking sessions, keynote speeches, biodiversity tours, cultural heritage sessions, and scavenger hunts, all educating about the importance of conserving native foods.
Edie Mukiibi, Executive Director of Slow Food Uganda and Vice President of Slow Food International, in her remarks at the opening ceremony, mentioned that young people are really important when we talk about the future of what we produce and eat since they are directly affected. whenever food is affected.

“Young people are coming up with a lot of ideas and creativity, so if we don’t nurture this energetic group, we lose a point, and it’s important to have the voice of young people in design the agriculture of today and tomorrow. Said Edie.

In a series of interfaces, the young participants engaged in discussions on different issues, including climate change, biodiversity loss, food waste and security, sustainable diets, malnutrition, women’s empowerment and poverty. youth engagement in sustainable agriculture.
They felt excited about the biodiversity tour integrated with team building activities and scavenger hunts in the ecological garden of Mr. Ssemwezi Sulait, who had a lot of fun seeing different plants for the first time like coffee, vanilla, cocoa and banana.

“Seeing different crops growing together in harmony was something that’s not common in today’s farming system, and it reminded me of when I was growing onions alone, and they were all affected by diseases, but I wouldn’t make a total loss if I planted a variety of crops Godline Nahabwe, participant.

Cooking session: sustainable food preparation (ekitobero)

This was presented by community members guided by World Vision, and sparked a discussion about our food choices and consumption behaviors that have direct consequences on our health, the health of children, the future of the system food, the climate and the people who make it up. this. Young people learned preparation techniques that support local economies and promote seasonal production and fresh consumption.
In his remarks, Daniel Moss of Agroecology Fund said that his country (the United States) is one of the leading manufacturers of synthetic chemicals, which is a cutting edge business but far from human health significance.

“It’s absurd that I find seeds made in my country planted here in Africa, it’s really amazing.” affirmed Daniel.

Stakeholder dialogue and closing ceremony

The closing ceremony of the Good Food Camp was graced by distinguished guests including Mr. Antonio Querido, the Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Hon. Kanabi Jimmy, LC5 Chairman, Buikwe District, Mr. Kyambadde Mourice, Senior Agricultural Officer Buikwe District, and partner organizations including PELUM Uganda, World Vision, Uganda Youth Biodiversity Network, Wilmat Foundation, CEFROHT, Food Rights Alliance, Consumer Education Trust, Uganda Red Cross Mukono Brach, Buganda Royal Institute and Homeland Organics.

Discussions on food were facilitated by partners, including food choices and consumption behaviors, moderated by Mr. Kimera Henry from Consumer Education Trust, Gender Inclusion and Women in Agriculture Empowerment by Ms. Nabaggala Ruth from Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Uganda, Food Diversity and Sustainable Diets by Ms. Kirabo Agnes of Food Rights Alliance as well as Food rights and Adequate Living by Mr. Lubega Jonathan of the Center For Food and Adequate Living Rights.
According to District Chairman Peter Kanaabi, the camp is an eye-opener for the district’s local government to begin engaging young people in engagements that promote agroecology. He alluded to the progress of the Buikwe District Food, Nutrition and Environmental Management Ordinance 2020, which was initiated by Slow Food Uganda and adopted by the local government of the district of Buikwe. Buikwe. He therefore pledged to give his full support to Slow Food Uganda and partners where he promised to create a more conducive environment for partners promoting agroecology in the district.
The guest of honour, Mr. Antonio Querido, FAO Country Representative, congratulated the organizers saying that it is not easy to find young people gathered to talk about food issues. He pledged to sponsor future camp activities. “The agricultural sector is a sector that requires passion and commitment, so we want you, the youth of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, DRC and across the African Union to embrace agriculture with passion.” Said Mr. Antonio Querido. He added that to be successful in terms of food and nutrition security, we need to put systems in place to support our young people to enable everyone who wants to be part of the sector to succeed in living from sustainable agriculture as we are. . work on the state of mind too.

Presentation of the thematic document

It was through this camp that young people asked the government and other stakeholders to integrate agroecology into their agricultural policies. Participants presented a discussion paper to Good Food Camp stakeholders on issues affecting service delivery among households in the agricultural sector. The speakers present were; the Guest of Honor – FAO Country Representative, Local Government District Chairperson of Buikwe District, CSO representatives, Ssi 3 Sub County Local Council Chairperson, Youth Leaders from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and councilors from Ssi sub-county. The issue paper cites issues such as lack of budget allocated to young organic farmers at sub-county and district levels, limited awareness of local, traditional and indigenous seeds and native variety preservation centers, and many others. Stakeholders were asked to sign a consent indicating that they were willing to take these issues forward to see that they are addressed at all levels, and this was done anonymously.

The Good Food Camp is an annual educational event of Slow Food Uganda and Slow Food Youth Network Uganda, which brings together young food activists from different regions and cultures to develop their creativity, advocacy and activism skills, self-confidence, their capacity building and their peers. to the motivation of peers, thus engaging greater participation of young people in the management of food structures.

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