A crash course in changing the world.
Title: Improving food access, income and general livelihoods for rural farmers and beyond!
Presented by: Ssozi Javie Date of Birth: 02/May/1987
Email: email@example.com Address: P.O.Box 28478 Kampala
Location: Bukoto, Masaka District, Uganda Farmer Group: Sanyu Ly’amaka Farmers’ Group
Sanyu Ly’amaka (the group name) is derived from a vernacular word which means “Family Pride”. The group was formed in 2007 to empower rural farmers in the region. It started with 4 members.
Today, the Group is composed of 18 Farmers who work closely with over 100 rural farmers in their area. While most of them small scale farmers, others are trying to go commercial. They grow food crops like beans, soybean, ground nuts, maize, cassava, matooke (banana), sweet potatoes and vegetables.
On the side, they grow, coffee, keep poultry, small numbers of livestock and
others have small eucalyptus forests.
Each of these members has a family. The average number of dependants of each of these members is 6 children (most of them in the school going age) and at least 2 adults (either a wife or husband plus one member of the extended family).
The members are all from Kakunyu Parish, located in Bukoto Sub-country. They are distributed in three different local councils (LC1).
Through the 18 members of Sanyu Ly’amaka Farmers Group our target is to reach out to over 300 rural farmers in the region.
With the USD1,000 we intend to boost the group’s activities to reach out to the wider communities.
Aim: To ensure sustainable rural livelihoods for rural farmers through; sensitizing rural farmers on improved farming methods, encouraging group formation and knowledge sharing while ensuring environmental integrity.
Uganda's economy widely depends on the agricultural sector. Over 85% of the estimated 22 Million Uganda’s total population live in the rural areas and depend mainly on Agriculture. Most of the agricultural activities take place in the rural areas. With that fact, it only right to say that, Uganda’s food production base is widely dependent on the rural farmers.
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 food to feed their families until the next harvest. In many cases they fall short of their target. Often, the yields are not enough to feed the family until the next harvest leading to food shortages in homes. 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. Since agriculture is the source of income, food and general livelihood for these rural farmers, under circ***tances, they are faced with situations where they have to sell part of their produce to cater for emerging [basic] needs - access health facilities, pay for school fees, rent, and provide for their families – worsening food shortages. 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. Farmers use labor intensive techniques using rudimentary tools like hoes, pangs and axes which limit their 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/ inequality: Issues of domestic violence and gender inequality are still very common in many parts of the Uganda. 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! Women farmers produce more than half of the food grown in the world. They lack access to land, lack of access to credit, and lack of access to education. This leaves 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.
Disease: The rural farmers have been much vulnerable to HIV/AIDs. HIV/AIDs weakens its victims resulting in to decline in agricultural production and food production in particular. Malaria one of the leading killers has also greatly impacted on food production. In Uganda for example, there are seasons where 2 of every 3 family members are down with malaria. During this time, a lot of money (which is not usually readily available is spent on drugs and medication while the food producers remain very weak and bed ridden leading to a tremendous reduction in food production.
Lack to information: here we mention lack of access to agricultural information. This has led to persistent infestation of pests and diseases and lack of planning. Only a handful of the total population of rural farmers is able to read and write. On another note, access to technology remains quite expensive – becomes worse when it comes to rural farmers. This makes information sharing among the rural farmers pretty hard.
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 as regards improved farming methods to ensure sustainable rural livelihoods while ensuring environmental integrity. 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.
Together with Sanyu Ly'amaka Women's Group, we shall work closely with the rural farmers both in groups and as individuals.
Together with these farmers, we shall encourage the youth to participate in the project, assume roles in the project, use the resource centre for their information needs and attend our trainings. This opportunity will enable youth empowerment socially and economically as they will now have a chance to participate on the same platform to contribute to improve their livelihoods. We believe that by doing so, the food security base will shift from being supported by the elderly, to being supported by the youth who are more energetic, flexible and open to change. 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 tukole namwe womens group, Sanyu L’yamaka Farmers’ 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.
Teaming up will facilitate improved information sharing among the rural farmer groups. We shall work closely with the youth. The reason for doing this is to ensure that the youth acquire the skills that we share with the farmers. Because most of the youth are now in school and have attained at least primary education, they will help the rural farmers digest some of these skills.
Grouping up will solve problems like low productivity, gender inequality and limited land for agriculture. Farmers in small and/ big groups should 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 a group they have more bargaining power to reduce exploitation from the middlemen.
In groups (small or big) farmers should 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, together with the Micro-finance Institutions. This way, the loan’s liability is split and shared between the various parties involved.
Strategy and Implementation
· Village meetings with the rural farmers to raise awareness of our upcoming project. Sanyu Ly’amaka Farmers Group [has promised] to take charge of organizing the village meeting.
· Set up Demonstration Farm:
One fully equipped demonstration farm to be set up in Bukoto, Masaka district as a centre for training and perfection as the idea spreads to other district inside and beyond Uganda.
I. I have already identified three farmers from Sanyu Ly’amaka Farmers Group who are promising to donate small plots of land (up to 100ft by 60ft) to set up the demonstration farm.
II. In the initial stages of the project we shall divide up the plot to set up small gardens to ensure growing of various crops. With time we shall seek expansion to setup a permanent structure – to act as the farm store with a training centre along side.
III. The farm will be managed by the farmers from Bukoto central sub-county. These farmers shall meet to vote their leaders and decide on the structure of leadership they would want. Sanyu Ly’amaka farmers group has a committee already and we shall base on this experience to implement a desired leadership structure. However, all the community farmers intending to participate in the project will be advised to apply for membership. Membership will be free of charge. As members, the farmers will have equal liability to oversee and choose the proper direction towards which the project should be run with minimum supervision from the board of directors. The board of directors.
IV. The farm will be managed and operated by the farm committee. The committee will seek and recruit employees on the farm as required.
V. In the initial set up of the farm we shall rely on farmers and the youth as volunteers to do the necessary work with limited help from paid/ out sourced labour. The reason for doing this is mainly to ensure that the farmers take control of the project from the start to ensure a spirit of self confidence in the project. Often when you introduce an already made demonstration farm, the farmers tend not to feel confident while running it. The out sourced labour will be paid a little fee from the small seed grant.
VI. When the farm is set and the operations begin, we shall seek to get some earning from the food and cash crops that will come from the demonstration farm. When this produce is sold, the income will be sold and the saving used for running the farm.
VII. The committee members of the farm will be paid a small stipend [to compensate for their work done and time dedicated to the project] from the farm savings as agreed upon by the project members.
VIII. Seeds availability and Seed security. For the seeds we are going to make sure that we provide seeds to those farmers who are in need. We shall have to put a condition that the seeds are provided to our members on agreed terms. For example once we give a member seeds, we expect the farmer we give the seeds to bring back the seeds after harvest with or without a turnover. The turnover we get from the farmers will be saved in the farm granary and saved for those seasons when there are shortages. For example, if we give a member 1 kilogram of soybean or beans, we would want them to bring back the 1 kilogram after harvesting - if they can give us some more than what we gave them, we save the extra seeds for them and for as long as they have enough, we can still redistribute these seeds to other farmers who need them. The cycle continues.
IX. Link rural farmers with other organizations [both local and international] addressing agriculture and food security issues. We are already in touch with some of the organizations. A list of prospective partners has been provided below and we intend to seek more partnerships in the future.
X. While most of the activities at the demonstration farm will not need fund, activities like training and farm visits will in the initial stages of the project will be funded from donations which we shall seek from our partners. We shall also use this proposal to apply for funds from other donor organizations.
The demonstration farm will act as a learning centre to spread practices like sustainable organic agriculture (organic crop production methods) and permaculture.
On the demonstration farm we shall show rural farmers how they can improve their farm yields regardless of the size of their farms, financial status or even level of education.
We shall depend mainly on use of the traditional tools which are easily accessible to the rural farmers like – pangs, hoes. However where possible [in the long run] we shall embark on introduction of improved farm tools and technology to make the work of farmers even simpler.
We shall plant a variety of the crops that the farmers in the area are planting plus a few other crops that the farmers will find necessary to introduce to their communities as they might benefit them economically or to improve on their diets.
Conduct one day kick off seminar in Masaka for already established farmer groups, the youth and farmers in general to officially launch the project and to encourage the communities to use and consult from the demonstration farm, create new partnerships with other organizations and projects.
After the kick off workshop, the trainings at the demonstration farm will continue to be organized at the one a week or one every two weeks depending on the public request.
The trainings will also be arranged away from the farm on individual or group owned farms to make the trainings more accessible to as many farmers as possible.
We shall rely on both the indigenous knowledge from the rural farmers and expertise from organizations and agricultural specialists like National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Kulika Uganda, St. Jude Family Project, Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Uganda, previous researches and institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture, Uganda Investment Research Institute, and Uganda National Bureau of Standards.
· Setup a resource centre alongside the demonstration centre to facilitate information sharing. Basically we shall use a mix of traditional and modern information and communication technology tools to provide access to information. This information will be in form of; doc**entaries that promote some of the best practices of agriculture both from experience and research, picture books to demonstrate improved farming methods, resources on effective group formation, CDs and Cassette tapes for the farmers to listen.
We shall also rely on the internet widely to access resources that already exist, to network and to share our experiences with farmers all around the world.
The resource centre shall also provide general basic information like health, sanitation, financial and environmental information.
· Exchange farm visits. We shall partner with other demonstration farms all around the country to extend our reach to other communities. The aim for this is to ensure that our members learn from other farmer groups’ experience.
1. The land on which a demonstration farm is to be set up will be donated by the farmers (3 of them have already promised to donate the land). We shall ensure that the demonstration farm trains more trainers from different areas around the district to ensure that the skills are dispersed widely such that the project benefits people beyond the targeted community as well - training of trainers. Knowledge and skills sharing is one of our core values.
2. There will be a monitoring and evaluation exercise every three months. The evaluation will look at how the demonstration farms are working with the farmers to sensitize them and work as a learning centre, the general a****sment of food access and rural livelihoods for the rural farmers – in terms of quality of diets and quantity. We shall also a****s our modes of information and skills sharing see how best to improve them to increase on the rural outreach and to extend the benefits of the project to those that need it the most.
3. Even though the project will look at promoting entrepreneurship, we shall encourage the farmers to start by growing enough food for their families. This will help to improve on food access in the families. On a side by side basis, we shall encourage farmers to produce as much as they can to promote the entrepreneurship aspect such that they can sell the surplus to earn a living to cater for their basic needs.
4. Farmers will be encouraged to work in groups to reinvent the spirit of cooperative farming with its unsung advantages. Youth and women participation and membership will be specifically encouraged.
5. We shall create connections and affiliate the farmer groups in our reach/ project 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, Women of Uganda Network/ Kubere Information Centre, National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), NAADS, Plan For Modernisation of Agriculture and other already established demonstration farms in the country.
We shall also seek partnership from other institutions like; Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda National Bureau of Standards and Uganda Investment Research Institute.
Why this project will succeed over similar projects or where others have failed?
This project will succeed because we are going to start by breaking both institutional and cultural barriers that stop women and the youth from benefiting from general agriculture funding. We are going to achieve this through sensitizing our members about the gender issues. With the increased global advocacy for women emancipation, women’s incomes have improved. Women tend to invest more in education, nutrition and health of their families improving on the general livelihoods of rural communities. This is why our project particularly encourages women farmers and the youth to get on board.
The beauty of our project is that it seeks to sensitize the farmers about ecology, economy and social concerns of agriculture in development as a sustainable approach starting with rural livelihoods inspired by the global food security.
The project will succeed because it has clearly identified the needs of the farmers both the function, and the non functional. Right from information to the problems and identified the solutions for each of the problems as well as devising localized means of information sharing among the rural farmers.
This project will succeed because it promotes solidarity among farmers. Solidarity is not a new idea, but indigenous. Our ancestors had this spirit and for some reason, it was eroded! Now, we are reinventing it, with more advantages for the rural farmers to enjoy the economies of scale. Of course here I have to mention increased bargaining power, more advocacy to stop land grabs through secure land rights.
This project is going to succeed because it covers the gender gap between rural farmers. We are engineering a more gender sensitive approach to seek solutions to issues like seed security. In Africa, women have proved to be in a better position to ensure seed security. Often, the women are the ones who preserve the seeds for planting the next season. And they are also the ones who sow, weed and harvest in most cases.
Many projects have dictated on what the farmers should grow – often cash crops. This project is going to encourage the farmers to grow food crops for the start to ensure that the farmers ensure food security in their homes before they start producing on a larger scale. Many farmers grow cash crops which usually take too long to grow and ignore the food crops; this makes them spend a lot of money on food. And because of the immense poverty, some cannot even afford the food.
This project will succeed because the bulk produce of the farmers enabling them to tap into the nearest markets they have in their reach; this will enable them to supply food crops to schools, hospitals in their communities and beyond. Farmers waste a lot of their time trying to break into external markets and ignore the nearest markets which would even cut on their costs of production through reduced costs of transportation.
Links to organization we intend to establish partnership with:
Prospective National/ Local Partners
Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture: www.pma.go.ug
One Acre Fund: www.oneacrefund.org
National Agricultural Research Institute: www.naro.go.ug
Kulika Uganda: www.kulika.org
Ministry of Agriculture
National Crops Resources Research Institute www.naro.go.ug/Institute/Namulonge/index.html
Women of Uganda Network www.wougnet.org
Kubere Information Centre www.kic.wougnet.org
Prospective International Partners
Gardens of Gratitude: www.gardensofgratitude.org
Food and Agriculture Organisation www.fao.org
Katine Village: www.guardian.co.uk/katine
Below is a summary of how the $1,000 will be spent.
Thanks to Agents: Chris Delamer, Jane McGonigal, Sarah Shaw Tatoun, Nick Heyming, Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys, kiyash, Ternura Rojas, ob1, BuffyB, Michele Baron, Jeremy Laird Hogg, Ursula Kochanowsky, Reid Falconer, for your comments to my “Evokation – First Draft”, your comments have really helped me a lot to reach this far.
If you think this Evokation can apply in your country, feel free to improve on it and use it as required.