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Published: December 23rd 2018
Farming near the top of the world
It is so hilly because of the volcanic ash from thousands of years ago. They prefer this soil because it is incredibly fertile but makes for hard work during rainy season keeping top soil in place.
In honor of my Willaert farming background, today is about Ugandan farming on the journey to the “Top of the World.” Five years ago, we tried this on bikes. We made it to the top covered in mud, drenched and couldn’t see a thing due to mist and call for a rescue. Today was more successful.
Here is some information on Ugandan farming:
• A hectare (2.5 acres) is selling around $4,000 in the Fort Portal area (a steep increase).
• A large family farm is 12 - 20 hectares
• Families farm tea and coffee but don’t produce enough for factories to buy from them. Instead, they sell to larger tea and coffee plantations who then sell to the factorits for profit.
• Tea is handpicked because you only want the top 2 leaves. A machine will take at least the top 4 leaves. This increases the presence of stems, lowers the tea quality and decreases its value.
• Farmers either rotate crop spots each harvest season or plant multiple crops in the same area (banana trees, corn, Irish potatos, beans, etc) to maintain healthy soil.
• Ginut is harvested for the root and used to make a sauce The seeds are used for reseeding. Our guide had to plant ginut by mouth. He would stick a wad of seeds in his mouth (like we do sunflower seeds) and spit them out 1 by 1 in the space his grandma had hoed. She’d get mad if he spit more than one out at a time 😊
• Beans are picked by hand and then shelled at night
• Cassava is pretty tall. Even though they only eat the root, the entire plant is used. The root harvested, the next 12 - 18” planted, and take the rest (branches and leaves) are fed the pigs who love it!
• There are 3 types of bananas in Uganda each with many kinds within it (cooking, sweet, alcohol)
• Each banana tree only grows one bunch of bananas but spruts many other trees
• When the bunch is done growing down, the farm is asked to cut its flower off because of a previous banana tree disease spread by the bees. They think this will help decrease the likelihoood of reoccurrence. This was devastating to Ugandans because bananas make up about 80% of their diet.
• After cutting off the banana bunch, the tree is cut down along with all but 1 or 2 of its sprouts for next season. The palm leaves are spread on the ground to prevent weed growth except for a 3’ ring around the tree to ensure it still gets water to its roots.
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