Urgent Evoke

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Title: Improving food access and livelihoods for rural farmers and beyond!


Presented by: Ssozi Javie


For EVOKATION


Vision


To help rural farmers improve on their livelihoods through improved farm yields, for sustainable development.


Abstract:


Uganda's economy widely depends on the agricultural sector. The biggest population of Ugandans benefits from Agriculture - both directly and indirectly.
Many regions in Uganda are practicing subsistence agriculture - mainly because
the land is owned by private individuals in small plots; so, the people choose
what to do on their plots of land.
Because families practice subsistence agriculture on small plots of land, their
target is to produce enough to feed their families until the next
harvest. In many cases they fall short of their target. Often yields are not
enough to feed the family until the next harvest. This has greatly been
attributed to the poor farming methods (many farmers have chosen to remain
local - NO diversity in their farming methods), prolonged droughts, pests and
diseases.
Under circ***tances, the farmers are faced with situations where they have to
sell part of their produce to cater for emerging needs - access health
facilities, pay for school fees, rent, provide for their families, name it...
In many cases they sell their produce at very low prices because the market is
not readily available plus the middlemen exploit them because they are
desperate to sell.


The rural farmers of Uganda have faced various challenges and these include the following factors among others:


Poor methods of farming: While a small percentage of farmers remains particularly conservative and not willing to advance or
modernize their farming methods, many rural farmers have not been sensitized
about improved methods of farming. As a
result, such practices like cultivating up and down the slopes leading to
massive soil erosion, over cultivation - not giving soil enough time to regain
fertility among others, growing the poor local breeds/ local crops - which
cannot survive under poor weather conditions and more prone to pests and
diseases.


On the same note, modern farming equipments also remain very expensive for one subsistence farmer to afford.


Lack of access to the common market/ market support: many rural farmers remain unemployed and they greatly rely selling on part of their agricultural produce to provide the
basic needs to their families. This implies that they need a reliable and
accessible market to be able to sell their products to earn a decent living.


The land tenure system: Because the land in Uganda is owned by private individuals, some people have no land at all (the tenants),
some have very small plots and while others have very big plots of lands (land
lords). Those who have small plots of land have big families. Usually these
small plots do not provide enough space for them to practice large scale
farming. As the families and communities expand, the rate of production remains
the same and sometimes the yields become smaller due to natural factors. In
essence, the produce is much less than the subsistence and market requirements.


Low productivity: As stated earlier, the small plots of land and mentality of subsistence farming coupled with poor methods of farming can only permit low productivity. In
addition many farmers don’t have access to crops and/ seeds at the beginning of
the season. This is mainly because most of the seeds are either consumed or
spoilt by the pests and often nothing is spared to be planted for the following
season. This is a problem because the farmers cannot reach their full potential
and as a result many rural farmers remain poor as they barely produce enough to
feed their families.


Gender imbalance: of course we still have issues of domestic violence and gender inequality. The men in most cases dictate what the women grow on the family plots. As if that’s
not enough, they want to be in charge selling the surplus of the total produce.
This means that they control the cash flow in the families and in many cases they
first full fill their needs – usually alcohol! This leaves the women the
position of the woman in the family undefined! The abuse and/ violation of the
rights of the women in various ways, such as work without pay or underpayment
in comparison to their input.


With the above mentioned problems, my proposal idea is:


First of all, as an Urgent Evoke Agent, I intend to sensitize and enlighten the rural farmers about changing their mind set. This can be done by volunteers who go out in the field to teach farmers on the “grass roots”, peer groups, training
of trainers, exchange visits to demonstration farms, also through agricultural organizations.
The enlightenment does not only affect the women, but also the men. In so
doing, they both contribute to the desired changes, that is, improved farm
yields, improved rural livelihoods, hence ensuring food security in rural
communities and beyond).



Get farmers to work together in groups such as the “tukorehamwe womens group” in Masaka district of Uganda. This will help reinvent the spirit of cooperative farming,
helping individual farmers enjoy advantages like economies of scale and many
others collectively.


This way, the problems like low productivity, gender inequality and limited land for agriculture will be solved. Farmers in small or big groups would be able to produce agricultural products and create volumes
from their numbers. Of course this will also involve training of effective
group formation and management which wouldn’t be hard with the minds set.


In addition, the problem of marketing would be easier solved. Because now the farmers have teamed up, they have more produce to carry to the market in bulk and now they can target bigger markets. The transport
cost is shared among the group members or better yet covered using the group
savings making the average charge per member affordable.


In groups (small or big) farmers would also be able to acquire soft loans (for low income earners) from the available banks on group security. These loans usually come with low or no interest. The various
commercial banks can be approached by these farmer groups. Such banks include Centenary
Rural Development Bank, DFCU, Stanbic bank and Housing Finance bank. This way,
the loan’s liability is split and shared between the various parties involved.


Target Group


Rural farmers in Masaka District of Uganda.


Implementation


· One demonstration farm to be set up in Masaka
district as a centre for training and perfection as the idea spreads to other
district inside and beyond Uganda.


· Conduct one day seminar in Masaka for already
established farmer groups and farmers in general.


· The Masaka demonstration farm will be used as
training centre to train more farmers in improved farming methods and sharing
best practices.



Way forward


1. I hope that by completing the demonstration training centre we will have trainers to train other farmers.


2. There will be a monitoring and evaluation exercise every three months


3. Farmers will be encouraged to start by growing enough food for their families with a little surplus for sell.


4. Farmers will be encouraged to work in groups to reinvent the spirit of cooperative farming with its unsung advantages.


5. We shall connect/ affiliate these farmer groups with other non-profit organizations working in the field of agriculture both local and international – these include: Food and Agriculture Organisation, National
Agriculture Research Organsiation, Dimitra, World Food Programme, National Agriculture Research Organisation - Kawanda and other already established
demonstration farms in the country.


Views: 26

Comment by Jane McGonigal on May 13, 2010 at 12:20am
This is fantastic! Thank you for being one of the first to submit your evokation, and congratulations on an outstanding idea and plan!
Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on May 13, 2010 at 12:23am
I agree with Chris-- this sounds promising. Two questions: have you identified some local groups you might work with? And how would you use the initial $1000 if you win?
Comment by Nick Heyming on May 13, 2010 at 12:24am
Great Idea! This is so needed, good luck, and let me know if there is a way I can support you!
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on May 13, 2010 at 12:44am
Excellent Evokation Ssozi!!! Nick can definitely help you in many ways, he has tons of experience in similar projects. If we can collaborate together in any way that would be fantastic!!!
Comment by Jane McGonigal on May 13, 2010 at 12:46am
Sarah's question is great -- can you propose how $1000 USD (2,148,500.00 UGX) would be spent on the 3 implementation steps? What would each cost -- and why? Seeing that breakdown would be really helpful, and help us know if $1000 would make a real difference in your ability to make this evokation real!
Comment by kiyash on May 13, 2010 at 12:57am
Great Evokation, Ssozi! A really strong, detailed explanation of the people involved, the issue you're addressing, and the solution you're proposing. Nice plan, and great work putting it together.
Comment by Ternura Rojas on May 13, 2010 at 5:28pm
Hi Ssozi. I am proud of you because I see that you have things very clear in your mind :-)
If you take my advise I will be happier:
At the top of the post under your name. leave an email and the place where the action will take place (village-disctric-country)
Then, instead of Vision just write Aim: To help rural farmers improve on their livelihoods through improved farm yields, for sustainable development by sensitising and enlightening the rural farmers about changing their mindset and getting them to work together in groups after they receive training from other successful farming groups" (just an example).
I am curious to know whay you did not mention the seed funding. How many people (number of women and-or families) will you recruite?
If you add the link to the “tukorehamwe womens group” we will have a better idea.
Good luck!
Comment by ob1 on May 14, 2010 at 5:07pm
Ssozi! ^___^
I desire so much your Evokation to succeed! Thank you!

Two things:
- when you say "improved farming" do you mean also ORGANIC?
- about the seeds... do you know about Vandana Shiva's Navdanya project in India to save farmers and biodiversity? It's a farm and a seeds bank at the same time and also an institute for future-farming education. It could be a parallel project to the main one... http://www.navdanya.org/

Thank you, Ssozi! ^___^

P.S.: one of my desires for the future is to have an experience as Change Agent in Africa, I feel I'm too much ignorant about your incredible continent. And I just caught myself smiling at the idea that experience may be within your Evokation. =)
Comment by Buffy B on May 14, 2010 at 5:31pm
Ssozi this is inspiring! I suggest you add a statement up front saying how your Evokation will be promoted and serve as a role model for other countries faced with the same issues, to really make it clear is going to be a global benefit. My voting capability is gone but I give you +1 for Vision
Comment by Michele Baron on May 14, 2010 at 5:34pm
great work, Ssozi! I especially like your rererence to the tukorehamwe womens group” in Masaka district of Uganda, to help reinvent cooperative farming and allow farmers to work and sell together to achieve better results... good evoking

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