“It is amazing what can be accomplished when the right information is given to the right people.” These were the remarks of Pst. Vincent Obulengo, Chairman of OAIC East Africa Region, after visiting and working with the Farmers Friends Foundation in Kaberamaido, North Eastern Uganda. The training that the group’s 15 members received from OAIC in 2005 went a long way—they have made incredible achievements in farming initiatives, and their success has spread to their surrounding community.
Farmers Friends Foundation (FaFFO) formed in 2002 when a few farmers within the Kabermaido community and church banded together with one another. Their vision was to use farming as a means of transforming their village into a self-reliant community with high moral integrity. To do this, their goal is to change their method of subsistence agriculture to commercial farming, and thereby be able to support their families and community through generating sufficient income.
In 2005, OAIC trained members of the group on important aspects of sustainable agriculture, including food security, record keeping, and farm management. The members also learned modern techniques in farming, animal husbandry, and agro-forestry practices. Group members began to implement these techniques on their individual farms. The training also led to the group establishing a demonstration farm where they share information and train other community members, most of whom are peasant farmers. There the group has planted 1,800 orange trees, 8,000 sackers of pineapples, 75 Elgon tick trees, watermelons, tomatoes, eggplants and several other varieties of fruits. Through the training sessions they offer, they have reached out to over one hundred farmers from Kaberamaido and the surrounding area.
Despite its overall success, the group still experiences a number challenges that they are trying to overcome. One issue is that they lack technical staff and support for farming due to a lack of funds to pay salaries. Another is that the group does not have adequate facilitation for transporting their products to nearby markets. They also lack a proper office to coordinate their operations, and have no computers for accessing information among other things.
Yet given these considerable challenges, Farmers’ Friends looks ahead at a strategy to improve their operations and build on what they have already achieved. They first want to buy more land for their community farm and plant 10,000 pines, which will help with rainfall and soil erosion problems. They are also in the process of constructing a poultry demo unit, and intend to plant more pineapples and passion fruit to www.pointcoinstar.com generate extra income. Over the course of time, they hope to reach out to more farmers, sharing the information they have about highly effective methods of farming.
The achievements of the Farmers’ Friends Foundation are truly a testament to how OAIC works to build people’s capacities and enhance existing community systems. Even training a handful of people, as was the case with Farmers’ Friends, OAIC can reach hundreds of people indirectly as knowledge is shared and passed around. From the results in Kaberamaido, Uganda and in many other OAIC supported communities around the continent, Pst. Obulengo’s thoughtful remarks clearly speak the truth.