Home Gardens for Food Security
28-year-old Doreen Biyiga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives with her family in Imvepi Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda. Food aid is limited to 4.4 kilograms of grain and US$6 cash per person per month, and it is difficult for many refugees, especially children, to get the nutrients they need.
Home vegetable gardening is an effective way for refugees in the settlement areas to supplement the meager rations they receive, and Doreen was one of the first in her area to host a vegetable demonstration plot with East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation.
Along with others in her community, Doreen received training from EWS-KT on the importance of growing vegetables in home gardens, seedling production, soil and water conservation, fertilization, crop protection, and how to manage and maintain the crops.
“I am very lucky to benefit from this project,” Doreen said. “My children have liked the vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, and butternut squash so much, and their growth period is short—within just 45 to 50 days, they are ready to eat.”
After seeing the positive results of the techniques she learned, Doreen was determined to help other people benefit from the project. Just two months after her training began, she started to train other community members to grow vegetables.
“After the training, I felt empowered to start growing my own vegetables with my community group, which is made up of 16 women and four men. We acquired some extra land and are growing watermelon, pumpkin, and eggplant there. Our plan is to harvest the crops when they are ready to take to market and sell them, but also to keep some for home consumption.”
Being able to produce their own vegetables helps refugee families to avoid child malnourishment and to reverse health conditions stemming from lack of proper nutrients. For those who grow extra vegetables, it also means additional income for the family.
As her harvest has increased, Doreen has begun to sell some of her vegetables to other families in her community. With her acquisition of new skills and knowledge in vegetable production, she is determined to become independent and less reliant on rations.
The Improving Food Security and Incomes and Reducing Chronic Malnutrition in Rhino Refugee Settlement and Host Communities in West Nile, Uganda project, supported by AGFUND, aims to boost refugees’ self-reliance through training in best vegetable production practices. Training includes production planning and crop selection, planting the crops using the right spacing, mulching them to conserve water in the soil, applying the right fertilizer at the right time with the right dose, and knowing how to avoid post-harvest loses. Project participants also learn which crops are best for the family diet and which ones bring in more money.