Food Change Lab Fort Portal
In Uganda the target policy is the national Vision 2040 – launched in April 2013 -- and its local implementation. Vision 2040 calls for “a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years”. In other words for a shift from peasant agriculture to commerce, much of it urban. Planning for urbanisation is often framed as hard infrastructure rather than soft systems of food provision.
Kabarole Research and Resource Center (KRC), a well-established NGO in western Uganda houses the Food Lab hubs. The focus is on ensuring a positive link between rapid urbanisation, food and nutrition security, and the economy and ecology of the rural hinterland. On the urban side, the Lab will look at urban food vending, which offers self-employment to many young entrepreneurial people, mainly women and provides affordable inexpensive food to the low-income consumer of Fort Portal. But the sort of urban growth planned under Vision 2040, brings a high risk of relocation of vendors away from low-income consumers. On the rural side, the Lab will address the greater participation of households in the cash economy, and ways to reverse the cycle of exporting nutritious food at the expense of soil fertility and nutrition insecurity.
Initial results of the 2015 Food Change Labs
Research and mapping of local food producers, vendors and consumers clearly indicated present and future food insecurity. Based on this data collection, Fort Portal municipality recognized green and clean food in their long term governmental planning as an important issue. Now, the municipality is open to citizen’s suggestions: ranging from concerns for improved lighting to sanitation in the urban area. The Food lab in Fort-Portal has so far brought the subject of inclusive food security on the planners’ agenda. The local government recognizes the need to provide better services in a designated place for food vendors and consumers.
In the rural area of Kabarole District, villagers started fireplace conversations and listeners groups discussing KRC radio shows on food security. Topics included the blind adoption of cash crops like maize, where traditional grown food crops like millets prove to be more nutritious and yet being neglected. Based on observations of elderly people that children’s length in some hinterland areas decreased, they discussed the possible implications for future generations. The food lab in Fort-portal invited the groups to make plans to grow more nutritious food. Another issue identified so far is the ageing population in the rural hinterlands. Quite a few young people migrate to the urban area to find piece meal work. Already, implications for the food production in the agricultural sector become visible. The Food Labs invited the planning authorities to come up with appropriate interventions.