Ugandans advised to revive indigenous seeds, granary storage for food sovereignty

Traditional maize used to be planted in Bunyoro in olden days.

Storing food was one of the ways of safeguarding against hunger and having seeds to plant for the next season.

The seeds were stored in granaries and were long storage facilities used by our parents and grandparents.

African Institute for Culture and Ecology says that they support the indigenous community to revive the traditional foods to address food insecurity in the region.

Indigenous foods such as maize, millet and beans among other types of vegetables were stored during bumper harvest for food security and its sovereignty.

Indigenous seeds can tolerate intercropping allowing a farmer to have a variety of foods from one piece of land.

Ms Gorret Karungi, 52, and member of Kabumbu Indigenous Seed Group in Kikarara Parish, Bwambara Sub-county in Rukungiri District, says since Covid-19 broke out and a lockdown was announced early this year, food has been a problem because families no longer have granaries as it used to be in the past.

The Kabumbu Indigenous Food Centre is reviving traditional granaries for food security.

“We used to intercrop cassava and beans. When cassava was harvested, we used to plant there millet. We could not suffer from famine to drive us to looking for food elsewhere because we used to have cassava and millet in our homes and we could make porridge out from millet”

Sound bite: Karungi on traditional seeds (Runyankore/Rukiga)
An indigenous millet finger used to be grown in Bunyoro in the past.

Mr Stanley Tibesigyire, 79, says it was mandatory for every household to have a granary and enough seeds for the next planting season.

Today, farmers go to shops to buy seeds for every planting season.

“The reason why we have decided to revive planting our traditional food is to get nutritious foods for a healthy body like beans so we can get proteins and vitamins from them like we used to do in the past”.

Sound bite: Tibesigyire on indigenous seeds (Runyankore/Rukiga)

African Institute for Culture and Ecology Executive Director, Mr Denis Tabaro, says the Institute is supporting cultural institutions and indigenous communities like Banyabutumbi community living in Rukungiri district to revive the traditional seeds.

“We are told that these kinds of granaries are no longer being used that is why pests that attack seeds have multiplied and long time ago, farmers never used to store seeds in their homes. So, storage facilities like these are very important. And then now, they have revived them, we have supported some of the elders to come and train the youth”.

Sound bite: Tabaro on granaries (English)
A traditional granary used by Banyoro to store seeds and food like millet, maize and beans among others in the past.

Government needs to support communities in reviving traditional crops which can improve household income and address food security.

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