“Many people think African agriculture, the traditional systems, are backward or primitive, but these are the systems which are feeding people in Africa”.
This is according to Edie Mukiibi, a farmer, agronomist and activist from Uganda who has recently taken the reins of the global Slow Food Movement from its founder, Carlo Petrini. He is also our guest for the third episode of The Star Ingredient podcast.
Permitting us a few cliches, we wanted to switch up the menu and give you some food for thought – to consider what is on our plate, but also where it comes from and how it gets there.
Mukiibi, now in his early 30s, leads a movement committed to preserving local food cultures and traditions that is active in 160 countries across 10,000 projects.
But as Mukiibi tells it, his approach to food, agriculture and agroecology was formed at home with his family, working their small plot of land close to the shores of lake Victoria in rural Uganda.
“We grew tropical crops mostly including coffee, cacao… traditional African vegetables like eggplant, sweet potato… But also the most important staple food for the central part of Uganda which is banana,” he says.
It was a passion that served him well in school where he ended up spending a lot of time banished to the school’s vegetable garden.
In those days, his teachers would dole out farming tasks as punishment for arriving late or speaking in the local language, Luganda, instead of English – two infractions of which Mukiibi was a repeat offender. But he never thought of it as punishment and instead entreated his teachers to promote farming as a vital activity, a theme that would come to shape his career later in life.
To hear Mukiibi’s story in full, and learn more about the Slow Food movement, listen to the episode in full, wherever you get your podcasts.
If you’re hungry for more recipes and stories about indigenous African ingredients, listen to the first and second episodes of our series, talking about all things fonio and bambara groundnut.
The podcast The Star Ingredient was funded by the European Journalism Centre, through the Solutions Journalism Accelerator. This fund is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.