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With Kitchen gardening every drop counts

By Ochola Sam Oryem
Nakasongola: Kitchen Garden was introduced and first used in 2012 as an intervention to climate change. In 2012, the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) project was introduced in Nakasongola District to strengthen Knowledge and capacities for climate change adaptation, Better access of livestock to water through water for production investments and improve Resilience of agricultural production systems in the cattle corridor. This project was implemented by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to realize the above key results areas. FAO then made an agreement with Nakasongola District Local Government (NDLG) to provide supervision, monitoring and technical support in the implementation of GCCA Project in Nakasongola district according to Principal Agricultural Officer, Mrs. Nakamya Sarah. Nakasongola District Farmers Association (NADIFA) therefore took a lead in the implementation of the project by introducing among others Kitchen Garden to help local farmers adopt to the prolong dry spell as the climate changes. I talked to Mr. Sembatya Tadeo, NADIFA staff who is also a watershed and Kitchen Garden expert, on how effective and reliable Kitchen Garden is.

Sembatya Tadeo demonstrating Kitchen garden. PHOTO BY Ochola Sam Oryem

SAM: What is Kitchen garden?
TADEO: Kitchen Garden is a piece of land prepared around the Kitchen. This garden is purposely to make sure that water from the kitchen is not wasted but used to water crops. Because even during dry spell, at least people use water for cooking, washing utensils, clothes, and others. So, the idea is that kitchen uses a lot of water a day, much of which is just poured outside in the compound. Therefore, instead of carelessly pouring that water, a nearby garden is prepared next to the kitchen so the waters be poured there. So, it is called Kitchen Garden because it is prepared next to the garden and the output is used in the kitchen.
Sam: How big can Kitchen Garden be?
TADEO: Kitchen Garden is usually not so big but small enough to be cared for without much energy. An average Kitchen Garden is about 5×5 meters and since most of them are circular, it can be like 10 feet. So, its size depends on the amount of water a household uses a day. A large family than uses like 10 cans of water may have a bigger garden than one with smaller family.

Mrs. Nambi Betty weeding her Kitchen garden. PHOTO BY Ochola Sam Oryem

Sam: What kind of crops can be grown in Kitchen Garden?
TADEO: Only fast-growing food crops can be grown in Kitchen Garden. Crops like tomatoes, cabbages, onions, Dodo, basically vegetables are best candidates for Kitchen Garden. Cash and Perineal crops like coffee, cassava, cotton is not suitable for Kitchen Garden.
Sam: What are the benefits of Kitchen Garden compared to others?
TADEO: Kitchen Garden has a lot of benefits than the normal gardens. First, due to its size, it can be easily managed in terms of planting, weeding and even harvesting. Kitchen Garden does not leave farmers at the mercy of God to provide rain for crop production because there is abundant household water it can tap from. Kitchen Garden is also very reliable because there is at least something no matter the season. Theft is impossible with Kitchen Garden because there is always prompt security as people are always at home. And also, the residues from the kitchen like maize, cassava or banana peels can be poured in the garden which will in turn improve the fertility of the soil when they rot. So, the kitchen provides compose manure.

Mrs. Margaret Ssali harvesting tomatoes from her Kitchen garden. PHOTO BY Ochola Sam Oryem

Sam: What are the challenges with Kitchen Garden?
TADEO: Since it is at home, it is vulnerable to domestic birds and animals like chicken and goats who sometimes feeds on them. The size again is a big challenge because it is literally impossible to practice in large scale and other important crops cannot be grown there especially cassava.
Sam: Are there some risks involved? And how can it be solved?
TADEO: Since this garden depends mostly on used water, the water can sometimes be toxic to the crops. For example, water containing soap particles is so dangerous to crops and if not treated it can destroy the crops. The best ways to treat the water, is by mixing it with asses or smashed charcoal. This will treat the water and makes it harmless to the crops. So, I call upon every household to adopt this technique to reduce on the level of food security.

Kitchen garden. PHOTO BY Ochola Sam Oryem

Cabbages growing in Kitchen garden. PHOTO BY Ochola Sam Oryem

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