Timothy Njakasi tells his Riverford story

After learning about organic farming at Riverford and Ripple Effect, Timothy Njakasi then founded the Kasenge Riverford Agro tourism Centre in Uganda. Here he tells us why he believes organic farming is the future, and what he’s doing to spread the word.

Timothy with Guy Watson at Riverford UK this summer

Sustainable agriculture is as vital in Uganda as it is in the UK, and I have seen first-hand the transformations it can bring to communities. Once we have begun to shift peoples’ mindsets, we can teach them how to grow plenty of vegetables, which is essential for good health in rural communities.

Someone who is sick can’t work, but through training in organic farming and animal welfare, even the poorest of people can transform their own lives. There are many different social benefits brought about by Ripple Effect’s work, and eating a wider range of food groups is just one example.

"While at Riverford I learned a good work ethic, and I try to pass that on"

A journalist once asked me why I travelled all the way to the UK to learn about farming, when we have different types of crops here in Uganda. I told him it’s not only the crops, it’s the principles and practices which you can learn from. And you can bring those principles and practices home.

While at Riverford I learned a good work ethic, and I try to pass that on to the people we train at Kasenge Riverford, so that people can get the most from their land. Meanwhile, through working for Ripple Effect I learned that for good development, first of all we need to look at peoples’ mindsets.

"Ripple Effect believes that if you can change people's mindsets, anything is possible. We cannot have prosperity on the farm if men and women are not equal."

The founder of Riverford UK, Guy Watson, came to visit Kasenge Riverford Uganda twice. On his second visit he wrote: “If I hadn’t seen for myself the men and women both embracing a fairer and more productive division of tasks, I would not believe that such rapid cultural change was possible."

The relationship was strengthened by my wife travelling to Riverford to study organic farming for six months, and the skills that she learned there were invaluable.

Timothy with his current wife Annet on their farm in Uganda

Kasenge Riverford farm is now thriving. We run a variety of training courses, host interns from different universities, farmers from Uganda and neighbouring countries, and volunteers from Europe.

We are currently hosting the new integrated green house tomato project by Solidaridad, which is aimed at growing and distributing hybrid tomatoes that are resistant to bacterial wilt. These tomatoes are then distributed to various young people and women in greater Mukono region for farming, improving nutrition and livelihoods.

This is what we love doing, and we plan to continue to spread the message of sustainable, organic food systems to anyone who wants to visit our beautiful farm.

By guest writer Timothy Njasaki, founder of Kasenge Riverford Agro Tourism Centre, Uganda