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

When young food activists from diverse cultural backgrounds come together and share learning experiences, it can become a powerful knowledge-sharing moment.

Learning about farming practices, planting, preparing, and appreciating what is good, clean, and fair allows for democratic and ethical change in the diet. The grassroots level is critical, as it is the young people who can build the future.

Slow Food Uganda and SFYN Uganda organized the second edition of their Good Food Camp from 27-29 May 2022 in the Buikwe District of the country under the title: Rewiring young people to transform diets.
This initiative aims to give space for young people to reconnect and share how they can be part of activities transforming production and 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 men of different professions. Farmers, fishermen, chefs, journalists, elected leaders, food vendors, students, artists, food processors, transport carriers, researchers, and partner organizations come together to share their experiences about food and deliberate on issues that affect their regions.
The activities during the camp aimed to educate the participants to understand the dynamics of the diet, to delve into different policies and rights, as well as to build the capacity of youth in leadership skills. These activities include food talks, cooking sessions, keynote speeches, biodiversity tours, cultural heritage sessions, and treasure hunts, all of which educate them about the importance of preserving indigenous foodstuffs.
In his remarks during the opening ceremony, Eddie Mukibe, CEO of Slow Food Uganda and Vice President of Slow Food International, said that young people are really important when we talk about the future of what we produce and eat because they are directly affected. The more affected the food.

“Young people come with a lot of ideas and creativity, so if we don’t nurture this active group, we are missing a point, and it is important that the voice of young people is in Cultivation design for today and the future.” Said Eddy.

In a series of interfaces, young participants engaged in discussions on various issues, including climate change, biodiversity loss, food waste and safety, sustainable food systems, malnutrition, women’s empowerment, and youth engagement in sustainable agriculture.
They were excited about the biodiversity tour combined with team building and treasure hunting activities at Mr. Smoezy Sleet Ecological Garden, which left many people enjoying seeing different plants for the first time such as coffee, vanilla, cocoa and banana.

“Seeing different crops growing together in harmony was not uncommon in today’s agricultural system, and it reminded me of when I planted onions alone, they were all diseased and yet I wouldn’t have caused a complete loss if I had planted a variety of crops.” Goodline Nhaboy, Associate.

Cooking session: sustainable food preparation (ekitobero)

Presented by community members guided by World Vision, this has sparked a discussion about our food choices and consumption behaviors that have direct consequences for our health, the health of children, the future of the diet, the climate, and the people we compose. He. She. Learn about preparation techniques that support local economies, encourage seasonal production and fresh consumption.
In his remarks, Daniel Moss of the Agroecology Fund stated that his country (USA) is among the leading manufacturers of synthetic chemicals that are acute business but far from critical to human health.

“It’s ridiculous to find seeds that are made from my country being grown here in Africa, it really is incredible.” Daniel confirmed.

Stakeholder Dialogue and Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony of the Good Food Camp was honored by some of the distinguished guests including Mr. Antonio Queredo, FAO Country Representative. Kanabe Jimmy, LC5 President, Buikwe District, Kyambadde Mourice, Buikwe District Chief Agricultural Officer, partner organizations including PELUM Uganda, World Vision, Youth Uganda Biodiversity Network, Wilmat Foundation, CEFROHT, Food Rights Alliance, Consumer Education Trust, Ugandan Red Cross Mukono Brach, Buganda Royal Institute and Homeland Organics.

Partners facilitated conversations related to food, including food choices and consumption behaviors facilitated by Mr. Kimera Henry from the Consumer Education Fund, Gender Integration and Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture, by Ms. Nabagala Ruth, from Participatory Environmental Land Use Department, Uganda, Food Diversity and Sustainability. Diets for Ms. Kerabo Agnes of the Food Rights Coalition as well as Adequate Food and Livelihood Rights for Mr. Lubija Jonathan of the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights.
According to District President Peter Knaby, the camp is a magnet for local government in the area to begin engaging young people in engagements that promote agroecology. He hinted at the progress of the Buikwe District Food, Nutrition and Environment Department Ordinance 2020 initiated by Slow Food Uganda and approved by the Buikwe District Local Government. Therefore, he pledged his full support to Slow Food Uganda and the partners as he promised to create a more conducive environment for the partners promoting agroecology in the region.
The main guest, Mr. Antonio Queredo, FAO Country Representative, commended the organizers, saying that it is not easy to find young people assembled talking about issues related to food. He pledged to sponsor upcoming camp activities. “The agricultural sector is a sector that requires passion and commitment, so we want you, the young people of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and all of the African Union, to embrace agriculture with passion.” Mr. Antonio Queredo said. He added that to be successful in terms of achieving food and nutrition security, we have to put in place systems to support our youth to allow all who wish to be a part of the sector to succeed in making a living from sustainable agriculture as we are. It works on the mentality too.

case paper display

Through this camp, the youth asked the government and other stakeholders to embrace agroecology in their agricultural policies. Participants presented an issue paper for stakeholders in a good food camp on issues affecting service delivery among households in the agricultural sector. Stakeholders present are: Guest of Honor – FAO Country Representative, District Head – Bwekwe County Local Government, CSO Representatives, Head of 3 Ssi Sub-District Local Council, Youth Leaders from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, Ssi Sub-District Councilors . The issue paper cited issues such as lack of budget for young organic farmers at the sub-county and county level, limited awareness of local, traditional and local seeds and conservation centers for indigenous varieties, and many others. Stakeholders were asked to sign a consent stating that they were willing to push these issues to know that they were being worked on at all levels, and this was done anonymously.

The Good Food Camp is an annual educational event at Slow Food Uganda and Slow Food Youth Network in Uganda, bringing together young food activists from different regions and cultures to increase their skills in creativity, advocacy and activism, self-confidence, capacity building, and peers. Peer-to-peer stimulation and then more youth participation in the management of food structures.

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