From displacement to cash crop farming: the ongoing story of restoration for communities in northern Uganda

chili crop12 communities are rebuilding their lives following the conflict in Northern Uganda. A multi-phased programme has enabled farmers to secure their land, learn environmentally responsible farming techniques, negotiate with buyers and develop a business. livelihoods have improved, and exciting opportunities are ahead.

 

Conflict-affected communities start to rebuild

As part of the northern Uganda recovery plan, Cyan International has been engaged with 12 communities within Gulu District. After years of civil war an estimated 1.1 million people were living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the Acholi region of northern Uganda, unable to return to their villages or work in their fields because of fear of abduction, murder and rape. Without freedom to live normal lives, people became dependent upon relief agencies to survive. Peace in 2009 enabled people to go home but presented new challenges of independent living.

 

Rooted in the land, centred on community

practical 2In the project’s first cycle, farmers were introduced and involved in a land mediation, compensation and registration scheme. Following this, Cyan helped farmers to form 12 CBOs.

 

With all 12 communities having secured the targeted land, a necessary step has been taken to incentivise investment in the land’s productivity. This has been done through a series of agriculture training sessions which has emphasised environmentally responsible organic farming approaches. Between 2011 and 2012, implementing CBO’s reported a 300% increase in yield compared to neighbouring plots.

 

Diversification with piggeries

pig penFollowing the first round of funding for agricultural training, it was observed that possible shocks such as drought, insects, war etc, would leave communities vulnerable to food insecurity again. It was thought that a diversification of food source would help to mitigate this risk.

 

A grant from an institutional donor was acquired in order to set up piggeries. Each beneficiary manages a small pig farm of 9 sows and 1 boar.

 

piglets for livestockingAfter one year, piglets have started to arrive in big numbers and the beneficiaries are selling the piglets to other members of the CBO at a reduced rate. The piglet boars are being raised for meat and the sows for producing further piglets to grow the District’s livestock base. Food security and means of income through animal husbandry is slowly growing economic recovery.

 

Aid donors become buyers

Introductions to markets and buyers and implementation of business planning skills has been highly successful. In one case CBO’s were able to sell excess produce to the World Food Programme, the same multi-lateral agency who had been supplying food to their communities over 2 years earlier.

 

Chilli crops bring health and education benefits

chilis drying for marketFarmers have now begun intercropping using bananas and chilli, and have developed strong relationships with the food commodities buyer ESCO.

 

Chillies are a cash crop which can achieve about £1 per kilo. One farmer reported he took his recently harvested crop of chillies down to Kampala to sell to ESCO and he achieved the equivalent of £1,500 of profit.

 

For people who live on £200 per year, this return will enable school fees and medical fees for the farmers family. He has secured a 20 acre plot but only has 2 acres under cultivation. With profits he plans to invest in oxen or a hand-held diesel plough to bring the other 18 acres under cultivation.

 

Planning a prosperous future with cocoa

Recently, plans have been developed from intercropping with cocoa. ESCO have already given a commitment to buy as much cocoa crop as can be produced at a fair price. Cocoa is a higher value crop that chilli. It has a bright market future, is easier to harvest than chilli and after three years it will produce a valuable crop with minimal maintenance for the next 30-40 years.

 

There are challenges with the cost of capitalising this potential project at a level which would have a material effect upon the economy of rural Gulu District. It is hoped that a combination of institutional donor funds and venture capital can raise the necessary start-up capital.

 

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