In Uganda 86% of the population are subsistence farmers, yet nearly half of people live in poverty and are unable to feed their families properly. Despite Uganda’s good soil and favourable weather, the poor are getting poorer.
At Amigos we believe we have part of the solution: conservation farming - a tool which can empower the poor to help themselves. It is a highly efficient, environmentally friendly method of farming, in contrast to the traditional slash and burn approach.
Through KiRU we teach the model developed by a movement called Farming God’s Way, which combines biblical training, innovative technology and effective management to unlock the potential of the land.
Constantinou Okot lives in Gulu, northern Uganda. He has three wives and 11 children and he is struggling to pay their school fees. Constantinou is in the second season of the Amigos conservation farming programme.
'Last year I planted maize in both my own garden and in the Amigos communal garden. I used traditional farming methods in my garden and only harvested 7 sacks of maize, whereas the communal garden, which is smaller, harvested 15 sacks of maize - so I'm embracing this new approach.'
And the impact is spreading beyond the field. 'Farming God's Way is bringing people together, fewer people are practising witchcraft and we always pray together before we farm which is helping us to bond. People's minds are changing, they used to drink and fight, but now domestic violence is reducing too.'
And this is only the beginning! We can't wait to see what Constantinou and his village will achieve in their second, third and fourth seasons. It's only a matter of time before this impoverished community in rural Uganda will have a thriving farming business, enabling every parent to send their child to school, feed their families properly and much more.
A Farmer and His Sweetheart!
Kemis Okura is a farmer from Masindi who joined a conservation farming group supported by Amigos. 'Before I joined this group I used to harvest 5 sacks of beans per season, per acre, but after joining this group I doubled my harvest to 10 sacks. This has never happened before,' says Kemis.
‘I used to sell produce cheaply to middle men who came and exploited us. I would end up making around 500,000 USh (£112) - to 600,000 USh (£134) per season’. After the group received training on marketing and post-harvest crop handling they decided to add value to their produce rather than selling to middle men who used to rip them off. As a result Kemis made over 1,500,000 USh (£336) last season.
His family is very happy that they never go hungry and are able to enjoy three meals in a day. And his children can go to school as paying school fees is not a problem! Kemis said that he and his wife used to fight at lot, but since they received training in conflict resolution from Amigos they go for long periods without quarrelling. He now calls his wife his 'sweetheart' and involves her in making family decisions.
Using some existing savings, and the profit he made from his impressive harvest, Kemis bought a car and now works as a taxi driver when he’s finished farming for the day. This brings an extra 180,000 USh (£45) a week into the family home. Kemis believes that in a few years' time his household will be able to afford everything they need, thanks to his new skills in conservation farming.
‘This is just the beginning for me,’ says Kemis. ‘I am going to chase poverty out of my home. Long live Amigos!’
Amigos Worldwide is a registered Charity/NGO both in the UK and Uganda.
Amigos Worldwide, Registered in England, Company Number 6122350, Registered Charity Number 1119450
Registered Office 7A Beech Grove, Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1PZ
(Amigos International and Amigos are working names of Amigos Worldwide)