Sharing Knowledge in Northern Uganda
By Morrish Ogwang, a 38-year-old key farmer in the Pumpkins in Africa project.
KOLE DISTRICT, UGANDA – In May 2021, as I was taking my produce from my home in Agogo village to the main market in Lira, I came across a nice-looking pumpkin garden by the roadside in Teyao village.
The beauty and number of fruits in the field caught my eye, as they looked quite different from our local variety, so I decided to stay a while by the field. Immediately the host farmer came to me to explain a few things, including how he got an opportunity to host the demonstration farm with East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT).
My interest grew because there was a time when buyers were looking for about 500 kilograms of pumpkin seeds in my area, and I kept wondering how one could extract pumpkin seeds of that quantity from local varieties, which are mostly harvested once a year.
Fortunately, the host farmer, who was Moses Okello (read Moses’s story here), gave me the contact number of an EWS-KT staff member, who I called the next day. I was happy when the teacher honored my invitation and in the same week visited my field. We discussed a few things regarding the requirements of me hosting a demo field, and I immediately offered a nearby site. Now the rest is history.
This opportunity changed my life because hosting a demo site not only has equipped me with knowledge in growing pumpkins but has improved my skills in tomato production as well. My social life has also improved greatly because of the number of people who come to my home for training, in addition to the roadside passers-by.
From EWS-KT, I have learnt about soil and water conservation techniques, how to use pesticides and fungicides, and how to raise seedlings, among other training, and whenever people come to me, I am happy that I am able to transfer this same knowledge to my community. I am now commonly referred to as “Apwony,” meaning “the teacher,” after only one pumpkin cropping season.
I am hopeful that in the next season, many pumpkin farmers will come from my area, since pumpkins are an easy crop to manage and not capital intensive.
Pumpkins in Africa: Catalysing Opportunity for Farmers and Consumers aims to accelerate the growth of the pumpkin sector in Africa by developing a hub of expertise and knowledge in Uganda, which can then drive growth in neighboring markets. While the pumpkin is of high nutritional value, has a long shelf life, and is relatively easy to grow, there is little pumpkin production for markets in East Africa. The Pumpkins in Africa project is implemented by EWS-KT and is funded by East-West Seed founder Simon N. Groot from his 2019 World Food Prize award money.