By Joshua Kato
Allen Muwanga understands the cost of life in the city like the back of her hand. A resident of Kisaasi, a city residential area, Muwanga earns sh550,000 as a private school teacher, however out of this, she spends sh400,000 on food related expenses every month. At her home, she lives with her three year old daughter. Larger urban families spend much higher though. According to Sheilla Birungi, the new KCCA Director Gender Community Services and Production, a family of six in Kampala spends at least sh50,000 every day on foods alone, if one takes into account the current cost in most cities and towns. This includes must have vegetables like tomatoes and sh2,000 per day, greens like dodo and nakati at sh4,000 and eggplants. When you add the cost of other foods like potatoes and bananas, sauce like fish or meat or even beans and ground nuts sauce, the family requires about sh50,000 to have decent daily meals. Currently, a bunch of matooke costs between sh25,000 to sh40,000, a tin of sweet potatoes costs sh15,000, while rice costs sh6,000 a kilogram. Birungi says people living in urban areas can reduce their cost of living considerably by growing some of their food.
“Our task as government is to reduce the cost of living for the urban population. We are doing this through agriculture research, demonstrations at Kyanja, Nakawa division, off mile seven, Gayaza road,” she says. Birungi explained that the KCCA Urban Agriculture Centre has now been also attached to the new Parish Development Model (PDM). The Parish Development Model (PDM) is a multi-sectoral strategy to create socioeconomic transformation by transforming, into the money economy, the 39% of Ugandan households that are stuck in the subsistence economy, using the parish/ ward as the epi-centre for development. It emphasizes ensuring increased production, processing and marketing, infrastructure and service delivery at grassroots level.
Sitting on over 10 acres, the farm attracts at least 400 farmers countrywide per week.
The demonstration gardens at Kyanja are organised in such way to encourage urban farmers to adopt a similar model to utilise whatever space is available to them. Any free space in the backyard, on the lawn, on the balcony for those living in apartments, can be converted into a productive garden. The farm has both livestock including piggery, poultry and zero grazing plus all types of vegetables including exotic one like lettuce.
“We encourage people of Kampala to visit the demonstration farm, learn and then implement so that we fight poverty together,” she says. Visiting the farm is free of charge, while seedlings and other services are subsidised by the government. Vegetable seedlings cost between sh300 and sh500.
Some of the more common enterprises include growing tomatoes, eggplants, cabbages, onions, green pepper, amaranthus (doodo), watermelon, butter nut and lettuce, among others. According to a survey across various urban markets, the common consumed vegetables are tomatoes, egg plants and cabbages. These are demonstrated in various systems including tower gardens, sack gardens, green houses, open field farming and hydroponic systems.
“When they produce for home consumption, they will obviously save some for sale and in the process fighting poverty,” Birungi says.