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FIGHTING HUNGER AND POVERTY THROUGH REVOLVING SEEDS AMONG THE POOREST OF THE POOR HOUSEHOLDS


BACKGROUND


Uganda is a country endowed with a warm climate, ample fertile land and regular rainfall which provides one of the best environments for agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the most important agricultural production includes tea, coffee, cotton, horticulture, vanilla, fisheries, livestock and livestock products, cereals, root crops, pulses and bananas among others.


The agricultural sector has for several years formed the backbone of Uganda’s economy contributing approximately 37% of Gross Domestic product (GDP). The sector remains crucial to the Ugandan economy for household and national food security, income generation, employment creation and foreign exchange earnings among others. Close to 77% of the Ugandan population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.


Kamwenge, Mukono and Kabarole communities particularly, are predominantly poor communities with 90% of the people live in rural communities and their livelihood entirely dependent on subsistence farming. They grow food crops mainly maize, beans, cassava, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, peas, fruits and vegetables mainly for home consumption a little surplus for sale to buy basic needs. They use rudimental farming tools like hand hoes, pangas/machetes and practice traditional methods of farming including mixed farming, inter cropping and crop rotation. Farmers in these communities grow low quality crops saved from previous harvest and do not use fertilizers. In addition, poor farming practices lead to loss of soil fertility and erosion. Prolonged dry seasons due to climatic changes and poor land tenure system coupled with lack of Government support lead to low food production resulting into persistent famine and gross lack of basic needs in 85% of the targeted homes. Worse still, traditional and cultural practices that promote polygamous marriages, wife inheritance and lack of family planning knowledge result into large families which at the end of the day, have no food to eat and no education. Worse still, the burden to feed the children is left to the women while men go to trading centers to meet their peers for local brew and idle talk. This situation coupled with low income, low education, and lack of medical services, clean water and access roads increases the vulnerability of the poor to remain trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty, disease and ignorance.


It's against the above background that ITI seek to continue mobilizing, educating and empowering rural poor women and youth through provision of resources and information towards adopting positive practices and attitudes for socio-economic changes. We aim at building not only an enabling environment but also a sustainable relationship between the staff and communities by working together, living together and learning from each other so much that the community is not just a participant in the program but is part of the movement to identify its own problems and seek the solutions together so as to foster ownership and self-worthiness. Through this process the need to work together becomes the underlying basis of our interventions with ITI being the facilitator of Change and community as the implementer of the envisaged change.



TARGET GROUP AND STRATEGY

Our aim was to ensure increased household incomes and food security among poorest of the poor widows, widowers, elderly and child headed families. The beneficiaries of this project were mobilized and trained under ITI’s micro-finance model known as Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA). The VSLA strategy is a micro finance model that brings together poorest of the poor women, elderly and youth into pooling their savings together, acquire small loans to invest in self-help income generating activities. Men do participate but their membership is often minimal due to the mobility and irresponsiveness to such programs. We continue to encourage men to join but we are sure that once women are empowered financially, they will be able to provide for the children. Therefore, members are organized into VSL groups, trained in agrobusiness and better farming practices, value addition and market linkages before providing the seeds.


CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TARGETED PEOPLE

  1. The targeted households live in the vicious cycle of poverty and earn less than a dollar per in a day.

  2. The 400 targeted families eat one meal a day, the children are malnourished. Lack of food to eat further affect the child’s learning abilities and overall growth.

  3. Over 1612 people live in the targeted 400 households. This number is too big and not only lack food but also major basic needs. Polygamous families lead to unplanned large number of children due to bad cultural practices.

  4. They lack drought resistant seeds and planting materials of improved variety and harvests.

  5. They use farm tools that are inferior and rudimental in nature leading to limited acreages cultivation.

  6. Poor farming practices which leads to soil exhaustion, low production and environmental degradation.

  7. Limited labor force, especially in child headed households and caregivers normally among the elderly and HIV/AIDS affected and infected families.

  8. Limited access to land and poor land tenure system. Others beneficiaries tend to lent property for farming.

  9. They lack orientation to commercial farming, lack of information and Government support.

  10. Poor saving culture and non-cohesive communities.

  11. Lack of cooperative farmer groups or associations


OUTLINE OF INITIAL PROJECT AIMS, OBJECTIVES & RESULTS

The overall goal of the project was to improve food security and economic living conditions of 400 households in Kahondo and Karambi Parishes through pro-poor seed revolving project.

The following are the two main objectives of this proposal;

  1. To reduce malnutrition and hunger among poorest of the poor rural women and orphan led families to ensure food security, empowerment and self-sufficient.

  2. To provide drought resistant crop production and value addition for 400 poor women and orphan led families for improved incomes and economic transformation.


PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS SOR FAR

  • 91 farmers were able to receive improved drought resistant maize and bean seeds.

  • Increased quality and number of meals eaten per day by the targeted families

  • Reduced incidences of malnutrition and disease.

  • The targeted vulnerable households acquired better skills of production to maximize yields.

  • Witnessing well organized farming groups that are actively working together to reap economies of scale and supporting their families.

  • Improved crop verities were bought and disseminated among the farmers VSLA and will be shared through farmer to farmer approach and sharing of blessings.

  • Members are able to support each other emotionally and spiritually.

At the end of the season;

  • Members will be able to contribute towards education for their children and and pay for medical costs for family members.

  • Increased incomes resulting from sale of value added grains

  • Increased self-esteem among widows and orphan

  • Reduced gender-based violence

  • Members are able to contribute towards church tenth and hold thanks giving ceremonies.

  • Members will be able to share seeds with new needy families at the end of the first year.

PRAYER POINT

Our prayer is to support 10 new groups in 2019




FUTURE PLANS


1--> 2 additional maize milling machines in Karambi and Rutete Parishes for value addition and increased competitiveness.

2 --> Increased number of households supported.



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