By The Insight Post Uganda
In Uganda, the fast-paced lifestyles and uniform food cultures are causing a noticeable decline in indigenous foods and flavours.
However, Slow Food Uganda has launched an innovative initiative dubbed ‘My Food My Identity,’ aiming to breathe life back into the forgotten cultural heritage.
Slow Food Uganda, a branch of the global organization Slow Food International headquartered in Italy, initiated a one-year campaign on Monday while celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity, with the objective of promoting and safeguarding indigenous and traditional foods throughout the country.
According to Edward Mukiibi, the President of Slow Food International and Executive Director of Slow Food Uganda, the campaign aims to provide support to small-scale agroecological producers who rely on their traditional knowledge to cultivate and harvest unique ingredients that have been passed down through generations.
The aim is to make indigenous foods readily available not only in the remote areas where they are traditionally produced but also in cities and towns throughout the country. This way, a wider population can have the opportunity to experience and appreciate these unique culinary offerings.
Across the globe, centuries-old cooking treasures are fading away, overshadowed by the appeal of convenience and standardized food systems.
The vibrant diversity once embodied by indigenous foods, deeply rooted in ancestral wisdom and local ecosystems, is at risk of slipping away forever. But Slow Food, according to Mukiibi, refuses to let these flavours vanish into darkness.
To be effective, the organization is actively promoting the campaign through various media channels, encouraging individuals to participate by creating and sharing social media posts.
People are encouraged to post pictures holding foods from their localities, showcasing different aspects such as history, culture, and health benefits. They are further encouraged to use the hashtag ‘My Food My Identity’ to connect and engage with others who share a passion for celebrating their unique food heritage.
According to John Kiwagalo, the Head of Programs at Slow Food Uganda, engaging the community in identifying indigenous food varieties serves a dual purpose.
Firstly, he says, it helps residents ensure access to a diverse range of nutritious meals, promoting healthier eating habits. Secondly, he added, it plays a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage and safeguarding biodiversity at its source
Once successful, the initiative will enable small-scale agroecological food producers to establish a broader market for their products, recognize endangered indigenous foods, and disseminate information about them.
Additionally, it will provide assistance to local food entrepreneurs and chefs by patronizing locally-owned food establishments and restaurants within the informal sector.
According to Noel Nanyonja, a farmer at Katosi who practices organic farming, specifically growing greens, pumpkin, beans, and coffee, the challenges they face in the market arise after harvesting their produce.
However, she believes that the campaign at the end of the year will shed light on the importance of local foods, ultimately leading to an expansion of their market.
Sarah Nkabi, another farmer, expresses that they have long been burdened by a deficient road network, making it difficult to transport their produce to the market. She adds that customers often demand lower prices for their smaller-sized produce compared to genetically modified alternatives.
Slow Food has been fully engaged in Uganda since 2006 and their efforts empower local residents to advocate for the right to accessible, wholesome, and ethical food for all, without compromising cultural traditions. The organisation operates as a branch of Slow Food International, which was established in Italy in 1989.
Nominated For Annual Agriculture Awards 2023
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) initiated the Annual Agricultural Awards, designed to inspire, acknowledge, and incentivize remarkable individuals and organizations for their noteworthy contributions and innovative approaches in the agricultural sector.
These awards specifically recognize individuals and organizations who have demonstrated dedication, hard work, and significant contributions to the advancement and growth of the agricultural industry.
Slow Food Uganda has received a notable nomination for the 2023 Annual Agriculture Awards in the prestigious category of the National Organic Sector Award. This recognition serves as a testament to the remarkable efforts exerted by Slow Food Uganda in promoting organic agriculture within the sector.
It highlights their exceptional commitment to fostering sustainable food production practices and making a positive impact on local communities. This nomination represents a significant achievement for Slow Food Uganda and further solidifies its dedication to advancing sustainable farming methods.
Slow Food Uganda has worked hard over many years with dedicated volunteers, farmers, chefs, educators and other partners who share Slow Food vision of good clean and fair food.
This nomination, he says, serves as an inspiration for their cause in Uganda and the global Slow Food Movement, as it encourages us further on our mission to protect biodiversity through gastronomy education and advocacy.