Before traveling to Uganda, we anticipated that it would be quite similar to Kenya, but with more greenery. It certainly lived up to that expectation, as everywhere we went was lush with vegetation, which was a beautiful sight to behold. However, as we explored the country more, we quickly realized that Uganda was distinct in many ways from its neighbor.
One of the most noticeable differences was the reserved nature of the people. Unlike in Kenya, where friendly locals were constantly approaching us to chat and interact, we found that people in Uganda tended to keep to themselves more. While this was initially a bit of a shock, we eventually came to appreciate the quieter, more peaceful atmosphere of Uganda.
But that’s not to say there weren’t other surprises in store for us. One of the most striking things we noticed was the abundance of food in Uganda. As we crossed the border from Busia, we were met with an endless stream of trucks carrying all kinds of agricultural produce, from pineapples to jackfruit, bananas, and maize. We even saw people using bicycles to transport food, pots, and even furniture. This was a stark contrast to Kenya, where we had seen much less food being transported in this way. After a period of extreme drought in Kenya, we were heartened to see so much food being grown and distributed in Uganda, and we felt grateful to be able to try all the fruits and vegetables grown there. We can confirm that Uganda has the best-tasting pineapples we have ever had. Luckily for us, we could buy the fruit almost on every corner.
New Country New Challenges
During our time in Uganda, we encountered some challenges. One of these was the extremely busy and chaotic roads in Kampala, which made cycling through the city nerve-wracking. However, we found that other cyclists were always willing to help us out and offer advice on which road to take, making the experience much more enjoyable. Connecting with other cycling enthusiasts and striking up conversations with fellow riders was a great way to experience the local culture.
Unfortunately, we also experienced our first serious illness during this trip. After arriving at our second farm, Aisha fell very sick with symptoms including high fever, stomach ache, and headache, which we initially thought were related to Malaria. On the advice of our host, we went to the nearest hospital and learned that Aisha’s symptoms were actually related to Typhoid. Lukas also got tested and was positive for Typhoid, even though he had no symptoms. The doctor informed us that some people never show symptoms, and therefore the disease is also known as the silent killer.
We had also been warned about corrupt policemen in Uganda, and we did encounter some in the bigger towns and cities. In Jinja, we were stopped by a policeman because we had missed a sign stating that bodabodas and cyclists were not allowed on the new bridge. We thought that the sign was deliberately made difficult to see so that the police waiting across the signpost could stop people and demand payment. Fortunately, we were let off without having to pay when we explained that we were traveling and did not know the rules.
Regenerative Farming as a Way of Living
During a visit to a community in central Uganda, we learned about the regenerative practices of the small-scale farmers in the area. Elizabeth’s dad, the chairman of a community of around 500 farmers, grows a variety of crops including plantain, jackfruit, corn, sugarcane, and cassava. We were impressed to see that many regenerative practices such as water harvesting, mulching, and intercropping were already in use. When we asked Elizabeth to explain what regenerative agriculture meant to her, she said “it’s a natural way of living” and we could see how all the practices made logical sense.
Near Lake Kyoga, we visited Priceless Farm, a beautiful permaculture farm in Uganda run by Aaron from Canada, who has been living in Uganda for over 17 years. Despite the neighbouring conventional large-scale sugarcane plantation, Aaron has been able to manifest his permaculture design skills at Priceless Farm. We were amazed by the amount of biodiversity and the conditions in which Aaron grows his crops. During our week-long stay, we helped out and learned about different plants, such as moringa, and the practices used to increase biodiversity.
Farewell Uganda on our way to Rwanda
All in all, our time in Uganda was an unforgettable experience that opened our eyes to the many wonders of this beautiful country. While it was certainly different from Kenya in many ways, we found that the people, the food, and the landscapes were all uniquely amazing in their own right. We feel lucky to have been able to explore this fascinating part of the world, and we hope to return again someday to see even more of what Uganda has to offer.
- Over the past few months, we have been busy writing some of our insights down for an article for The Furrow, a magazine by John Deere. It was a great opportunity to make sense of some of the information we got from all the farms visited. While we usually focus on visual content, writing this article challenged us to write down all the great things we have seen at the regenerative agriculture farms visited during our journey. Soon, an other article on business models of regenerative agriculture farms will be published by The Furrow. So, stay tuned for the next blog posts if you are interested in whether regenerative agriculture can be scalable and profitable.
Guest post on Unlocking Water Management Secrets in Regenerative Agriculture
- While studying at Wageningen, we always enjoyed reading the Wageningen World journal. We appreciated the depth of its articles, the new scientific findings, and the inspirational stories. It is a pleasure to share that this time, article about Cycle to Farms has been published in this journal. It also was one of the nicest interviews we had so far. We hope that this will inspire other students as it inspired us. Read latest issue here.
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Aisha & Lukas