Robert, Mariam, and Pastor Silver are just three of the farmers in FRB’s Uganda-Kabale program who are reaping the benefits of their Conservation Agriculture (CA) training. Their increased yields are astonishing to themselves and their neighbors alike.
Robert, 40, is married with three children and farms on one acre of land. He says, “Before CA, I used to experience challenges like poor yields, insects, and many diseases. I almost gave up planting fruit. After two years of minimum tillage, I’m seeing a great reduction in these problems. Now I can harvest at least 50 kilos (110 pounds) of fruit and 50 of tomatoes each week. And my labor costs have gone down since I no longer till. My land is never idle. I’ve planted gooseberries so that, when the tomatoes begin to die out, I can begin harvesting the berries. I cannot stop this type of farming now.”
Mariam is single and farms on her parents’ land. “I’ve tried mulching and minimum tillage on my garden plot. I’ve planted beans and, even though I have not harvested yet, they look better than my neighbor’s beans which were planted at the same time. People believe in me. I have taught CA to my mother and she, too, has started mulching her garden where she has planted cabbages.”
Pastor Silver, a longtime farmer, is 45 and married with five children. “I had left my land idle and contemplated moving because the soil was depleted. But after CA, I’m harvesting 800 kilos (1,764 pounds) of Irish potatoes where I could barely get 70 (155 pounds) before.” His family members now help him by cutting and carrying grass for mulching. His results have been so good, he says, that he can hire additional labor. “Even if the program withdraws its assistance I will not stop mulching.”
Uganda Kabale encompasses 25 communities, 1,021 households and 6,126 individuals
"I have a reason to smile,” says Shila, a 33-year old participant in FRB’s Uganda-Teso program. “My farm production has increased dramatically every year I’ve been involved. After receiving training in Conservation Agriculture (CA), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), vegetable growing, and participating in my farmer group and Village Savings and Loan (VSL) group, I have made it through this year’s challenges in spite of the drought. I am now a role model in our community.”
Shila, her husband, and their 10 children are now “Farming as a Family Business,” and everyone is engaged in the production cycle at all levels. With timely planting, mulching, crop rotation and other CA practices, they earned 4,200,000 Shillings ($1,200) from selling beans and maize. They used part of the money for baking bricks and purchasing cement to build a permanent house. Says Shila, “Our plan is to finish the house next year, save for next year’s farming, and continue paying school fees for all of our children.”
Julius, 24, is married, with a baby girl. He and his Village Savings Loan group began saving money in 2014, and he recently had enough to buy a heifer. He says, “This year I was selected to serve as a Community Resource Person. I participated in many different training events so I could pass my learning on to my community. My vision is to acquire land, since I inherited only two acres from our family land share.” In addition to helping others, Julius says, “I am championing my own development.”
Farming as a Family Business participants like Richard realize that farming is not just a lifestyle or a game but a long-term commitment to investing, planning, monitoring, reviewing and evaluating their farms for success. Richard says, “I have rented a simple treadle pump to help me during this dry spell. I want to make the most of this season. I have planted eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes and green pepper. I’m using small water reservoirs in the swamp for watering, and all the members of my household are carrying out tasks best suited to their abilities and preferences.”
Led by World Renew and local pattern Katakwi Integrated Development Organization (KIDO), FRB's Uganda Teso program encompasses 12 communities, 802 households and 4,812 individuals.
In celebratation of Earth Day, here’s a look at some programs that are improving community health through soap.
Development is complex, and is never as easy as 1-2-3. It must take into account many human factors – our diversity, experience, present realities, personalities, cultures – but that’s not all. Climate change, natural disasters, societal pressures, politics, global markets, environmental degradation from industry or local practices: all have an influence on how our program participants can adapt to change and adopt practices that will help them break the cycle of poverty. Even a seemingly simple practice like using soap promote health and hygiene may not be so simple for some people in our world.
FRB’s Uganda-Busoga program is based on the premise that the food security of smallholder maize farmers increases when husbands and wives learn to work together toward the goal of increasing their maize production. Traditionally, women and men have farmed separately, with women’s efforts going toward caring for the whole family, and men raising money that sometimes went to the family but most often went to meet their individual needs. This program encourages both spouses to think about the family as a unit that needs to be cared for first.
Chandiru, a single mother of three, is a member of a Farmer Field School (FFS) in FRB’s Uganda-West Nile program. The schools train farmers on sustainable farming technologies and other subjects related to food security, including sanitation and nutrition.
In communities such as Chandiru’s, many households do not have toilets or other sanitary facilities, exposing the communities to health risks such as cholera, diarrhea, and infections. Chandiru said that, before she joined the group, issues of sanitation and hygiene were not important to her, but now that’s all changed through the trainings she’s received.
In the Busoga region of Uganda, FRB and its member organization Lutheran World Relief (LWR) are partnering with NAMUBUKA Grains Area Cooperative Enterprise (ACE) to help increase the income of 1,500 smallholder farmers. FRB's Uganda-Busoga program is one of three pilot programs in LWR’s cross-regional, gender-integrated food security and agriculture initiative, the Learning for Gender Integration (LGI) initiative.
Looking back at her life before skills training, Prosy, a 23-year-old woman with a disability in her left leg, wonders where she would be if not for the food security, livelihood and entrepreneurship skills training she’s received from FRB’s Uganda-Kireka Lweza program at the Lweza Rehabilitation Center for disabled youth.
Rehabilitation Center students are disproving the widespread Ugandan belief that people with disabilities are unable to care for themselves or contribute to their communities. These students are now earning incomes, growing their own food, selling or bartering their extra production, starting small business, training others and working as consultants.
One of the focuses of the FRB’s Uganda-West Nile program is equal gender involvement in agricultural production. In Uganda, the perception of farm work as women’s work is slowly changing through trainings. In fact, men like Bran are now helping their wives in the field!
Mariam and Bran have nine children. Mariam is a member of one of the programs Farmer Field Schools (FFS), and she always shares her knowledge with her family. As Bran explains it, “I was changed by the training on equal gender involvement in agriculture.
Recently, a guest participant at a learning meeting FRB hosted in June 2013 in Uganda shared the following with FRB staff:
"Our church has a ministry for women living with HIV AIDS in which we helped decrease stigma and help them openly declare their status. This has encouraged other people in the community to go for testing and counseling, starting retroviral drugs and living in positive lifestyles for their own safety.