Farm Innovations From Kampala

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Urban farms in Kampala, Uganda, make the most of their limited space. Photograph: Nils Adler

Vertical farming, urban farming, innovations we have seen mostly from industrialized places, are important in developing countries as well:

Rooftop farming: why vertical gardening is blooming in Kampala

Ugandans are finding creative solutions to the growing challenges of urbanisation

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Growth spurt: a child carries a tray of plants in eggshell flowerpots. Photograph: Nils Adler

When Martin Agaba realised his urban farm had run out of space, he decided the solution was not to expand outwards but upwards.

“We realised we had to use the roof,” he says. Of all the innovations that have galvanised people in his district in the Ugandan capital Kampala to grow their own food, these vertical box plantations remain his favourite.

Kwagala farm, located on half an acre of land, is the brainchild of Diana Nambatya, a professor in public health, who began growing vegetables to save money on food in 2010.

After receiving two cows as a dowry, she decided to use their dung to generate biogas for her home. Her burgeoning urban farm soon attracted the attention of the neighbours, and in 2012 she started training women at a small demonstration centre.

The urban farm is just one of many springing up in and around Kampala, a city of more than 1.5 million people, as residents find creative solutions to the challenges of urbanisation. Between 2002 and 2010, Uganda’s urban population grew by 5.6%. This process, Martin Agaba believes, is eroding young people’s interest in Uganda’s agricultural sector, which employs approximately 69% of the population.

Agaba trains children that live around Kwagala farm in how to grow strawberries, yams and spring onions. “We are motivating children to not rely just on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis – a popular form of informal employment) or TV but to do something creative every day.”

Brian Ndyaguma, an entrepreneur and restaurant owner, says: “Somehow the young generation deserted the way our parents’ generation did things, so if you are going to convince young people to jump into agriculture, it has to be made sexy – it has to be made appealing to them”.

It was Kwagala farm’s creative reuse of old tyres that first attracted visitors. Then, as they began to experiment with using other materials, such as disused drainpipes and milk cartons, some of the local children began to create their own designs. “Now the children do not copy what we do,” says Agaba. “They do their own thing.”…

Read the whole story here.

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