|A beautiful organic farm|
in Northern Uganda
What I was not prepared for was the shocking stories of the people that I met, the reign of terror that they had experienced and the inspirational way they are now rebuilding their shattered lives. I was vaguely aware of the Lord’s Resistance Army, but had no real understanding of the terror that they perpetrated throughout northern Uganda during their 20 year assault on the people of the region.
|Annette a Child Mother and |
aspiring national team goalie
For me the people that left the strongest impression were a group of farmers who were all HIV Positive, many as a result of sexual violence inflicted during the conflict. Working together they have rebuilt their burned out homes, replanted their staple crops and are now expecting their first coffee harvest, from seedlings provided by Seeds for Development, planted three years ago. They were happy and healthy and provided a shining beacon of hope for other suffers of this dreadful disease along with a fantastic demonstration of the ability of the human spirit to overcome outrageous adversity.
|The truly inspiring|
happy and healthy
HIV positive farmers
Currently, everything that is grown in this region is organic, as fertilizers are too expensive for farmers to consider and yields are naturally high. With global pressure to increase food production it will not be long before the fertilizer salesmen come knocking on the door with their promises and lies and it is in my opinion essential that markets are available to allow farmers to secure the premium that their organic produce deserves so that they can make informed decisions about their future.
The journey from our southern base in Mokono, a suburban town outside Kampala to Gulu, the location of one of the largest camps in the north, took six hours on roads varying from modern tarmac to rough, red dirt tracks. On the way we passed a varying landscape that was green and verdant even though it was the end of the dry season. We experienced sudden torrential showers that turned the wide ditches on either side of the road into turbulent rivers of rust red water. We also passed the first signs of change, with huge areas of land totally cleared of all trees, shrubs and plants ready to be sown with GMO seeds. I had not realised that these crops do not provide fertile seeds, so when this change is made it ties farmers into buying more each year. It would appear that much like the British created mono-cultural plantations of sugar cane and tea during the colonial period, there are now significant pressures to see this form of agri-business become the dominant agricultural model.
Uganda is rightly described as the Pearl of Africa but it is a pearl balanced on a knife edge and must avoid the mistakes that we have made and achieve truly sustainable development that is socially equitable, economically sustainable in the long term and achieved with the minimum impact upon the environment. It must not be allowed to become the dumping ground for the outdated products of global corporations or be seduced by outmoded short term thinking that is not in the people’s best interests but will bring rich rewards to the powerful few.