More households in Uganda continue to experience tremendous improvement in their livelihoods owing to great agricultural practices. Annette Bayi and Patrick Bayi for instance are an emulatable household showing such improvements.
Having struggled to eke out a decent living, they currently have thriving enterprises in agriculture. With approximately 2 acres of land, the Bayi’s have done so well that their farm is used as a learning centre for other community members. This was however, not always the case. Patrick Bayi had a reputation for playing poker and most of his days were wasted. Annette on the other hand, attended trainings offered by OAIC and built her capacity on best agricultural practices.
These trainings she notes made her think differently from other community members. During the initial distribution of cassava cuttings by OAIC, the community members picked her to spearhead the project and decided it would be best to plant all cuttings in her 2 acre piece of land which would eventually ensure that other community members get their share when the crop matures.
The crop yielded well and the community shared in the profits as well as the cuttings. “The cassava crop requires about 9 months to mature and doesn’t require much care compared to other crops. There’s also sufficient ready market for the drought resistant crop which makes it a viable crop for the communities here. Since the distribution of the cuttings by OAIC, the changes in the lives of the members of this community is evident,” notes Annette.
She notes that trainings and farmer exchange visits built her capacity tremendously. With farming, they have been able to educate their children up to University.
“Farming pays, but great farming pays even better. We have patiently practiced conservation farming for sometime now. Great farming practices have enabled us to earn a decent living and we were even able to increase our family land after buying some from our neighbour. We have been able to save and educate our 6 children through farming. Some are teachers while others are currently in University,” narrates Annette.
There is clear transformation in her household which was once afflicted by hunger and poverty. “These trainings opened my eyes and built my capabilities. My husband who used to waste a lot of time and resources playing poker is now a changed man. He saw how I had transformed our household as I was a progressive thinker and got interested. I am grateful that he now supports all progress in our farm as we work together,” she adds.
The Bayi’s also have a small section of their land which they refer to as a basket garden where preparation for compost manure is done. Once a compost pit is dug, cow dung, water and grass is added and covered properly. Some sticks are stashed around the pit and vegetables are planted around it. This strategy ensures that the nutrients flow into the basket garden. This is a good strategy for planting vegetables as they don’t easily wither during the hot and dry weather. Some of the traditional vegetables planted are: Sageti – rich in iron – spider vegetables; amaranthus; sukuma wiki- kales as well as garlic.
Marketing produce for farmers continues to be a challenge for most farmers who have little information on market needs and trends. High transportation costs also hinder most of them from maximizing on opportunities that would ensure they earn income.
The family also engages in livestock keeping. They bought a second Heifer valued at Ksh 10,000 which has already reproduced five times. They note that for best results, one requires a properly constructed shed. One also needs to have at least one acre of land dedicated to dairy farming as this will come in handy for them to plant napier grass.
“We currently own 2 grade cows and 2 calves. They produce 15 litres of milk daily. Nonetheless, since most of our neighbours own cows, we are forced sometimes to give away the extra milk to the community freely and that’s a loss to us. There’s plenty of milk but we lack markets. We are still trying to research on value addition products that we can easily venture into to ensure that we maximize on our products. Through discussions with other farmers today we have learnt that 1 litre of milk in our areas cost Ugshs 800 while in Tororo it costs Ugshs 2,000. We need to tap into this market,” they note.
Soil degradation; poor quality seeds; as well as a parasitic weed called Kayongo – striger weed – which affects cereals are some of the problems the farmers are grappling with. The change in Bayi’s household is an incentive for people to put their best foot forward to enhance their livelihoods.