OAIC continues to organise capacity building activities for communities through congregations, farmers groups as well as community based organizations to ensure that households are enlightened on best farming practices and thus lead better lives.
With the growth of the East African Community market, farmers need to strategically place themselves to ensure they tap onto resources that the market has to offer whilst ensuring that they are able to seamlessly do business in the region. Thus organisation for better marketing is a key aspect of training processes that OAIC continues to give. It is worthwhile to note that proper organization will ensure that farmers can easily access markets as well as more opportunities for farmers are availed and business people will be able to easily sell their produce to other East African countries and beyond.
Organisation for better production and nutrition as well as influencing policy are key issues that are also often discussed during trainings.“It’s important for leaders to know and understand how the budget allocations in agriculture for their various districts and localities are planned and implemented as this will largely determine how farming practices improve in their various regions,” notes Reverend Nicta Lubaale.
The Gema Kumwino community group which was recently visited by OAIC has politicians as members and thus policy makers. The group was urged to enhance debates on better policies for farmers. “We have politicians in this group, why should the communities here wait to get cassava cuttings from Nairobi yet these policy makers are responsible for budget planning and allocation for agriculture? What do politicians discuss during party meetings? Why can’t they deliver for the people in their communities to ensure they are food secure?” quipped Nicta.
Sarah Mutanda a member of the group notes that the first cassava cuttings she was given were insufficient but she made use of the little she had to grow more with the help of a demonstration farm by Annette Bayi, one of the group leaders. “The cassava variety we plant here is a top variety and another one has just been released by the research centre and it’s as tall as me. When I planted it in my farm, one villager asked me where I got the variety from and I was glad to direct them to our demonstration farm at Mrs. Bayi’s homestead. When people planted the variety, they thought it would just be sufficient for food but the yields were tremendous and they had to sell at the market. The income from the sale has even enabled some to educate their children upto O’ level and also purchase scholastic material for their children which was previously a tall order. I am also very grateful to my husband who has helped a lot and has been supportive as there are a lot of unsupportive men,” notes Sarah.
This variety also had a ready market and farmers noted that they rarely look for markets as buyers would flock their homesteads to buy from them. “Farming has created and galvanized relationships between wives and husbands,” notes one member.
Group organization is also effective as farmers voices can be effectively heard by policy makers when they speak as an organised group. “I am glad that I have found different people from the ones I left years back. This is the transformation that OAIC keeps talking about. “People should have life in abundance, and no longer wait for donors as they have been grounded well and they’ll continue to grow. In our next meeting, it would be best to sit with children of the parents who have grown and passed through institutions of higher learning as a result of their parent’s hard work in farming and share their experiences with the group,” noted Nita.
Jane Wabene, a friend of one of the group members also benefitted from the cuttings and currently has one acre full of cassava and is grateful to the friend who provided the cuttings (3 cuttings). “I have been able to educate my children and one of them is currently in fourth form and is the best performing student,” she proudly says.
Zakaria Rwanga is grateful to the Gema Kumwino group as both members and non-members alike have benefitted from the group’s activities. “At my age I have eaten a lot of cassava but the type that this group in Bwologoma plants is the best. I was given the cuttings by a neighbor and when they matured, I sold to members of the community and people come back to ask where they can get that variety,” he noted.