We visited numerous farms during our time in Uganda. One thing that became clear very quickly was that the land is ultra fertile and the diversification among the crops farmers can yield is quite vast.
Below is a photo essay capturing a few of the commonly seen commodity crops that provide sustainability for the farmer’s families; their communities and whoever is on the receiving end of the exporting trail. Most important to note though is that the farming practice is the livelihood of many Ugandans and it truly sustains their families and provides a life with potential for future generations.
Cassava – a root vegetable, starchy much like the potato. It is a main source of carbohydrates for many and considered a staple crop. Another staple crop not pictured here, but grown extensively is maize (corn). Coffee beans – *The ripe coffee fruits (cherries) go through a number of operations aimed at extracting the beans from their covering of pulp, mucilage, parchment and film to improve their appearance. The resulting clean coffee can then be roasted and ground to obtained the coffee powder which if fit for human consumption. *To learn more about processing, click here. Cocoa is also grown in Uganda.
Dried moringa – Moringa leaves are considered to have the highest protein ratio of any plant so far studied on earth. The dried form of the leaf offers extremely high nutritional value and is said to also provide healing and medicinal benefits.
Eggs – Farmers rely on a variety of farm animals just as we do in Canada. Spotted frequently were chickens, roosters, pigs, goats and cows. As well, we did see a variety of vegetables being farmed such as cabbage and other leafy greens but they weren’t seen nearly as often as the crops pictured here. Male roosters can be sold for up to 40,000 shillings while a producing mama pig can fetch 400,000 shillings!
Eucalyptus – We finally figured out how all the Ugandans kept their pearly whites so bright! Using the eucalyptus leaf for a toothbrush, the leaf has cleansing properties and tastes oh so minty fresh! Eucalyptus is also harvested for its lumber. We also saw many farms that grew pine trees and teak trees (also harvested for lumber upon maturity which takes around 20 years).
Ground nuts – A tasty nut, much like the peanut, ground nuts (or gnuts as the Ugandans reference them) are from a legume subfamily and offer a source of protein.
Honey - Lots of bees in Uganda, lots of bees who liked to chase me! Honey collection, fish farming and mushroom harvesting (below) are common jobs that youth and women often undertake in RPOs (rural producer organizations).
Mushrooms - Unlike other cash crops, the mushroom is one of the most affordable because it requires less space and manpower but pays very well.
Oranges – Many delicious fruits can be found in groves (pardon the pun) all over Uganda. We also saw trees that produced bananas, mangoes and papayas.
Simsim (sesame) – Harvested particularly in the north, roasted sesame paste is mixed into a stew of beans or greens and served as a side dish, sesame paste may be served as a condiment; a candy is made from roasted sesame seeds with sugar or honey. *For more on Ugandan cuisine click here.
Beans - Uganda is the world’s 8th largest producer of dry beans.
Farmers receive training on crop diversification through the Uganda Co-operative Association and ACE’s (marketing co-operatives). Due to this newly gained knowledge they reach a new level of success when they branch out and begin farming more crop varieties.