Innocent Niyonzima gleefully picks bean pods in the demonstration garden in Buguta Zone where NARO technologies have been established for uptake in Rwamwanja Refugee settlement. “These beans are now ready even though they were planted slightly over two months ago,” he exclaims. Niyonzima, who is the Refugee Welfare Chairperson (RWC) for the settlement is talking about the Narobean 6 variety.
He says that the refugee community had been greatly impressed by the performance of that variety since they could eat fresh beans in just a month and three weeks of planting. He said that it was resilient to weather vagaries, tasty, highly productive and gets ready faster when cooked and so saves on firewood. He says that the refugees had adopted the variety because of its desirable attributes.
Niyonzima said this while talking to the media that accompanied the livelihoods office of the Office of the Prime minister (OPM), refugee’s desk on Wednesday 18th October 2023 in Rwamwanja Settlement. He said that the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) had promptly recognized and rightly responded to the food needs of refugees unlike many partners who worked in the livelihoods sector.
NARO delivered its first consignment of cassava and potato seed for refugees in Rwamwanja and farmers in its host community in late April this year. NARO also established demonstration plots of maize, beans, rice, bananas and soybean among other commodities within the camp to sensitize refugees on the appropriate agricultural technologies for uptake in the settlement.
According to Dominic Twesige the field coordinator for the NARO Refugee project, during the priority setting meeting for the project, refugees opted for fast maturing commodities like beans and sweet potatoes. Twesige said that sweet potatoes were desirable as they would provide complete meals, i.e. leaves for sauce and tubers for food. He said that refugees had picked on Narospot 1 and 8 for potatoes adding that that Narospot 1 had been preferred for its tender leaves while Narospot 8 had bigger tubers and was attractively powdered (nikisaanuuka). He added that even cassava leaves were a delicacy for preparing Sombe sauce.
The media team and OPM staff were able to see first-hand how tubers had already formed in the five months that NARO’s cassava had been planted in the demonstration fields of the settlement. According to Twesige, NARO was more interested in the cassava cuttings in order to avail more people in the settlement and host community with planting materials.
The Deputy Commandant for Rwamwanja Settlement Julius Kamuza told the media that OPM was glad to work with a credible partner like NARO in the livelihoods sector. He said that the food situation had greatly improved in the few months that NARO had joined the livelihood sector in the camp.
NARO establishes in Kyaka II settlement
In other news, the NARO refugee project has concluded the planting exercise in Kyaka II settlement. According to Twesige, the NARO team together with refugees established three fields of potatoes, cassava and beans. He added that a total of 30 beneficiaries had been given potato vines while 20 had been given cassava cuttings (two bags of each) for seed multiplication to be able to plant a quarter an acre plot in Kyaka II settlement. It’s from these plots that seed will be shared with other refugees in perpetual succession.