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Feb 2013 04

Who needs rain? Group members overcoming dry season through ‘kitchen gardening’

Posted in Featured, News

By Fred Ojok, GRG consultant

While other areas of the world experience snow and winter, northern Uganda is normally hit by heavy sun and heat between December and April. The most extreme heat and dryness is near the Uganda-South Sudan border, where long dry spells cause water shortages, prevent agricultural production, and above all reduce income to buy food items in the household. At the Group Development Planning workshop – a process where GRG supports groups to examine their community problems and develop their own solutions – group members of Orem Can in Paracele, Lamwo District, identified dryness as a major problem they faced. They asked GRG is they could provide training in dry-season irrigation, so that they could manage some cultivation and income in dry season. In response to the request, GRG recently delivered a training in ‘kitchen gardening’.

Group members put together a demo plot

A kitchen garden is a small plot based on the homestead used to raise vegetables crops. It gets the name because kitchen leftovers are used as compost, to ensure that the soil remains rich in nutrients. Kitchen gardens help improve household food security as well as nutritional security. It uses little land, and is based close to the home, which means it can easily be watered once or twice a day. A central area is filled with kitchen waste, and water is applied there, meaning the water and nutrients spread out to the whole area from there.

Our agriculturist, Ojok Fred, explaining to group members how to plant seeds in the kitchen garden

Although the system has proved successful elsewhere in northern Uganda, it as a completely new option for the group. One of the group member said this would really help his family to fight malnutrition during the dry spell. Another member, Kidega Michael, explained that kitchen gardening offered a completely new opportunity for dry season income earning: “I believe I will make some good money this dry season through this knowledge I have acquired today.”

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