The small 10m by 15m garden behind Agnes Oroma’s house in northern Uganda’s Gulu district is much more than a hobby garden; according to HIV-positive Oroma, it is one of the main reasons she is in good health. She grows indigenous vegetables and tomatoes to supplement her daily diet of beans, maize meal and silver fish; Oroma also proudly shows off a sisal sack in which she grows onions.
“Do not ignore that little space behind your house, it can do a lot to feed you cheaply and lessen your financial burden that would enable you spend on other essentials to keep you healthy on your daily ARV treatment,” 31-year-old Oroma told IRIN/PlusNews.
In the face of rising global fuel prices and a prolonged dry spell, Ugandans are dealing with steep increases in the price of food that have sparked protests in many parts of the country. Oroma and other HIV-positive patients in Gulu town are becoming more self-reliant in an effort to maintain a healthy diet and stay on their antiretroviral medication. Oroma’s group of backyard farmers has grown to 30 in the past few months.
“Food was my biggest worry for my treatment; I had become weaker because my body didn’t have the strength to withstand the potency of the ARV drugs. Since I started growing these vegetables, producing more food, I feel a lot of improvement and I have the strength to do other things. I now take my medication without worries because I know the food I grow can keep me going for another day,”said Maurine Kilama.