With support from the German Red Cross, Uganda Red Cross Society launched a seed fair in Yumbe District on 19th June, 2020, which enabled both refugees and host communities living in Bidi Bidi and Palorinya settlements obtain seeds of their choice to grow food crops.
Following the Government’s standard operating procedures to fight COVID-19, the launch of the seed fair was held at Ariwa Reception Center in Bidi Bidi Zone 5 settlement center. More than 1,000 households in Bidi Bidi and 300 from Palorinya benefited from this activity.
While launching the seed fair, Taban Yasin, the Yumbe district chairperson, thanked Uganda Red Cross for supporting the work of the district task force by complementing the government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19, as well as supporting the refugees in the hard times of the COVID-19 situation.
“Giving seeds to our local people is a very good strategy, since food security is vital during these trying times of the pandemic, so thank you Red Cross for the great initiative." Taban said.
He also cautioned the local community to continue following the standard operating procedures to stop the virus from spreading to the people in Yumbe.
Each beneficiary received a voucher worth 98,000 shillings, and he or she picked seeds of their choice, worth of their voucher. Michael Nabugere, the Settlement Commandant, Bididi Office of the Prime Minister, noted that in 2017 refugees did not want to engage in agricultural practices since they were entitled to receive 100 percent of their food from the Government.
However, due to loss of funding and capacity during COVID-19, the Government was only able to supply 30 percent of the refugees’ food needs, so the refugees had to engage in farming. The Red Cross seed fair was therefore a good strategy to improve on food security in the settlement. “We thank the Red Cross for coming in timely. The refugees cannot get all the food they used to get before.
The food rations were cut by 30% and this gap can be bridged when refugees start growing their own food.” Nabugere said. Chiranjibi Rijal, a delegate from the German Red Cross, noted that Community Engagement and Accountability Modernity (CEA) is very important in such activities because it gives a beneficiary the chance to choose what they actually want.
“Before we designed the voucher, we consulted the beneficiaries to select seeds of their choice. Another important aspect was to improve on the local economy by inviting local suppliers to be part of the seed fair and refugees have secured seeds from the local suppliers.” Rijal said. He also thanked Uganda Red Cross for implementing the program successfully.
According to Simon Anyanzo Lenin, Programs Manager at Uganda Red Cross, in addition to the seeds, each beneficiary received a pair of gumboots, 2 kgs of groundnuts. 2 kg of maize, 1 kg of beans, 1 kg of peas, vegetables such as okra, pan sawani (50 gms), eggplant (10 gms), and dodo greens (10 gms). Simon thanked the German Red Cross for funding the project and promised to push it to other villages.
Afika Jamal, a refugee in Bidi Bidi and one of the beneficiaries, thanked Uganda Red Cross for coming up with the seed fair and promised to use what he got appropriately to feed his family and improve their welfare. Feni Gard, the agriculture officer of Yumbe district, emphasized the high quality of the seeds, saying that they were inspected by the team and ready for use.
Feni also thanked the Red Cross for maintaining quality during the fair. Yumbe District has a population of more than 700,000 residents, including 213,000 refugees who are mostly from South Sudan.