Buikwe District is located in the central part of Uganda. With approximately 98,000 households engaged directly or indirectly in small-scale farming, agriculture is the district’s main economic activity.
Buikwe residents face myriad challenges every day, among which malnutrition, a wide income gap between producers and co-producers in rural and urban centres, inadequate extension services, poor post-harvest handling methods that lead to low-quality produce and poor hygiene.
In an effort to counter these problems, Hivos and Slow Food Uganda launched the Food System Solution Platform (FSSP) project on May 5 in Lugazi Municipality, Buikwe District.
The launch brought together 46 participants of different professions: farmers, fishermen, food vendors, local government officials, loan extension officers, chefs, journalists and representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs), among others.
The FSSP project will run in Buikwe for one year with the aim of convening different food actors into a multi-stakeholder platform to analyse the current situation and share solutions for improving the food system, nutrition standards and food security in the district. Through the Slow Food Youth Academy, Slow Food Uganda will train local youth on lobby and advocacy, communications and research skills, among others, so they can effectively engage in debates and lobbying to improve local food systems.
The chief guest at the launch, Hon. Kigongo Mathias, Local Council chairperson of Buikwe District, asked residents to take full advantage of opportunities such as the FSSP project, which he acknowledged as important in the development of the district and the country at large. He also urged the Youth Academy participants to use this chance to acquire knowledge in communication skills and advocacy, which will make them powerful advocates for healthy, clean and fair food.
Hivos recognises that the needs of low-income consumers, producers, traders, processers and vendors who form the backbone of the food system are rarely factored into policy decisions. Hivos’ Sustainable Diets for All programme aims to build the lobbying and advocacy capacity of CSOs to jointly challenge unsustainable practices and incentives in food production and consumption, while fostering changes in policies and practices that help make sustainable diets attainable for all.
Hivos is implementing the Sustainable Diets for All programme in Uganda in partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The programme works to influence policy and practices of markets, government actors and international institutions through citizen action for the promotion of sustainable diets for all. Slow Food is one of the two partners Hivos has collaborated with in its work in Uganda.
The Slow Food Youth Academy is a learning platform organised by Slow Food Youth Network that provides an interactive training programme for young people and students pursuing different professions who want to learn more about the food system.
This year’s academy is focussing on capacity building in developing food advocacy and entrepreneurship skills in a sustainable way among producers. Participants are selected from existing youth groups mapped by the Slow Food Youth Network Uganda coordinating team. Seventy percent of the participants come from Buikwe District and thirty percent from other regions of Uganda.