Growing crops and feeding communities is becoming more difficult in Uganda. That’s why Resonate Global Mission missionary Sara Sytsma took a group of young people to visit a farm and learn new growing techniques.
Sytsma works in agricultural development in Uganda, helping churches and communities come alongside farmers to better care for their land, produce more food, save money, and connect the Christian faith to everyday life through Bible study and skills training.
“The majority of Ugandans are farmers,” Sytsma said. “With a growing population, land degradation, and increasingly irregular rainy seasons, there is a need to adjust traditional methods of growing crops.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sytsma helped start Bible study groups for students in her community while schools were closed. The students’ parents have jobs in town, but they grow food to supplement their income.
A few of Sytsma’s students wanted to attend a one-day training on tree propagation at Uwepo, a farm that grows and sells seedlings of many different trees, herbs, forage plants, and more. But Uwepo was too far away for the students to go on their own.
Knowing how important new farming techniques could be for the students, Sytsma worked with Uwepo to organize a tour of the farm for her students. Resonate’s work sharing the gospel throughout the world is focused not only on the spiritual well-being of individuals, families, and communities, but also on meeting their physical needs.
“This was a chance to let [the students] get some education, which will be useful in their lives,” Sytsma said. “Many of the plants Uwepo sells and the techniques they teach on their farms are not widely practiced in Uganda.”
Sytsma drove the students from Soroti to Uwepo in Jinja, about a three-hour drive, and Uwepo staff led the students on a tour of the farm. The students learned about new techniques and new plants their families could grow.
After learning that there’s a good market for macadamia nuts, which are easy to grow and produce a lot of seeds each season, one student bought a seedling and took it home to plant. Students were also excited to learn that after a fruit tree grows to a certain height, farmers can cut off the tip of the main stem so it grows outward rather than taller, making harvesting fruit easier.
Providing training is one way Resonate missionaries like Sytsma work to equip people. While the tour was only one day, this training could help these students better navigate the changes their families and communities are facing while growing food.
“Agriculture is vital for feeding people, but is often looked down upon in Uganda as not being a very well respected job since it is viewed as not being profitable,” Systma said. “This was an opportunity for the youth to learn how agriculture can be profitable and an exciting profession.”