The Batwa, however, have been excluded from this harvest on two counts: firstly as forest people, they do not have a history of cultivation, so lack the skills (and sometimes the motivation) to farm; secondly and most importantly, the Batwa do not own any land upon which to cultivate Irish. In order to try and address this, last year the VSPT loaned some land to the local Batwa community free of charge. The idea was to try and give the Batwa access to this valuable market and help the community learn farming skills, which are vital in the exclusively agrarian rural Ugandan society.
Unfortunately, the first growing season was not a success; an unexpected dry spell in January and February meant there was an unusually high number of pests and this combined with a general wariness of me and the VSPT (it was in the early days of our involvement in the area), meant it was not a success. However, 6 months later, with a significantly improved working relationship the chairman of the community was keen to try again. As a result over the last week, several women from the community have been preparing the land and the first of the Irish were planted yesterday. So, with some favourable weather and a bit of luck the Batwa will be enjoying their first Irish in about 4 months' time!
Will, Uganda - Volcanoes Safaris Partnerhip Trust