Today was a packed day in the rural village called Kikandwa. We got a tour around a small-scale farm that uses the technique of intercropping to produce plantains, coffee beans, cocoa, pumpkins (what we call squash), maize, and other crops. We also got to see where they process their cocoa beans and how they do it, which was super interesting! Ours hosts then took us to one of their houses for a delicious traditional Ugandan meal of matooke (mashed plantains) with g-nut sauce (ground nut sauce- amazing!), rice, beef, cabbage, greens, and fresh pineapple and watermelon. It was so cool to see how the farmers in Uganda work and how different it is from the large-scale farming in the US. Here the focus is on providing food first for their own family and the surplus can then be sold, whereas in the US, all product is for selling. This idea, combined with the method of intercropping, make for a very sustainable farm. The only thing, to me, that seemed not very sustainable about the farm was that labor prices are so low, so people in the area are hired for very low wages to help harvest the crops, which is good for the farmer, but not great for the surrounding community and isn't very sustainable for the economy. Overall, it was a great day full of beautiful scenery, great Ugandan people, amazing food, and lots of learning and thought-provoking ideas about Ugandan agriculture.
Questions for Drake/MUBS students:
How could Uganda raise the minimum wage for harvesters without making the farmers go bankrupt? Do you think large-scale farming could help Uganda or hurt it? In what ways would it help/hurt?