For a farmer to farm he/she needs seeds and to get seeds you need money. That's where the story began and ended for thousands of farmers in the post conflict area of northern Uganda.
Reluctant to give the farmers handouts, we devised a way that farmers could borrow seeds and repay the financial value when they could - a bit like micro-finance with seeds. The farmers receive enough seed for one acre of land (normally about 25kgs) and they grow them together with the other farmers in their group.
Once harvested, they come together and collectively sell the crops at a much higher price than if they were selling as individuals. As the years went by we started to support the farmers with longer term crops such as pineapples and today we are working on an exciting project to grow coffee on a commercial scale. To reach as many farmers as possible, we worked for a while in partnership with Send a Cow Uganda who faced the challenge that when farmers graduated from their wonderful 3 year programme they were still subsistence farmers and not generating an income. Our model has been so successful that they have now introduced economical empowerment into their programmes.
Whilst we are very pleased to have supported over 3,000 farming families move towards financial self-sustainability, we realised that we were losing our personal connection with the farmers.
So we made the decision to focus our efforts on six communities and become more involved with their lives. Our projects are bigger and more ambitious and will benefit the wider population.