Seed Programs International (SPI) Board of Directors member, Ton Van Der Velden, had an opportunity to travel to Africa in March to represent SPI. While there, one of his stops was to Uganda to visit with our partner Sustainable Community Initiative for Empowerment (SCINE) in Kampala and with Lawrence Okettayot, inventor of the sparky dryer, in Gulu.
Ton’s first visit was to meet with Jacqueline Nampijja and Emmanuel Ssenabulya of SCINE. This program supports slum communities in Kampala, in the Makindye division. Many of the residents in the community are living in poverty and many are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and South Sudan. Children with HIV have also been abandoned in the division by their parents and are fed and given medication by the schools. Last year we partnered with SCINE to create 100 household gardens and a school garden for 326 students. Ton visited some of the household gardens and the school garden while he was there. Here is a video of a student proudly talking about the school garden project. The program was successful and fully supported by the teachers as a way to incorporate nutritious vegetables into the school lunches and provide hands-on training in an urban green space. This year, we are partnering with SCINE again for the Grow City initiative. This program aims to create 12 school and community gardens in 10 communities in the Makindye division of Kampala. The community gardens will focus on training young people and women in the community on urban gardening. Various techniques will be employed in the urban area, such as vertical gardening, rooftop gardens, backyard gardens, and street landscaping (in collaboration with the Kampala Capital City Authority). We will also be featuring this program during a free virtual event on September 23 for Hunger Action Day. You can register to attend the event online here. Stay tuned for additional information about the event and updates about this program.
Ton’s next visit was with Lawrence Okettayot, an engineer and entrepreneur that invented the Sparky Dryer. You can view a video about Lawrence and the Sparky Dryer here. Globally, over one third of all food produced is wasted, and in developing countries that statistic can reach up to 75% of a farmer’s yield, depending on harvest surplus, food preservation techniques, and market demand. The Sparky Dryer is a food dehydrator that runs on solar energy and harvest waste. It can be used to extend the shelf life of produce and reduce food waste. Lawrence has sold 300 Dryers so far and anticipates selling 150 more this year. He aims to increase his sales further to support families in preserving their produce throughout Uganda and surrounding countries.
SPI is currently partnering with Preserve International on a project that supports four women’s cooperative groups living in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Uganda. This program teaches the women in agricultural and food preservation techniques, including use of the Sparky Dryer. The program aims improve food security and to reduce food waste and extend the shelf life of produce into the dry season between harvests. The dry season is often referred to as the hunger season, or lean season, in which children and adults experience seasonal wasting (loss of body mass) which often leads to permanent stunting. Extending the shelf-life of produce improves food availability through this difficult time. We aim to partner with Lawrence Okettayot to improve our program partners’ access to the Sparky Dryer to reduce food waste and increase food availability through the dry season.
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