We provide seeds to the farmers in the villages we support. They receive maize and (depending on how much money we have) beans for one acre. This is enough for them to feed their families, save seed for the next season and sell the surplus at the local market.
Up until 2020 we were seeing slow and steady progress. More children were going to school, families were able to buy radios, bicycles and solar panels. Life was getting better.
Then COVID hit in 2020 and everything changed. The farmers lost everything and we were back to square one.
When we say they lost everything, we mean that when the Ugandan government announced the lockdown they used any savings they had to buy supplies to see them through the lockdown. When the lockdown didn't end they sold any belongings they had. Then they ran out of food and ate the seeds they had saved to plant. When there were no more seeds they were left with foraging for wild plants. With no seeds to plant, they had no food later in the year. Schools were shut for two years in Uganda and many girls ended up having sex for food. Now there is a baby boom of young girls with babies and toddlers.
Forest gardens and regenerative agroforestry is a fantastic way for farmers to provide for their families and make a positive impact to our planet and environment. They don't need inputs, fertilisers or other chemicals, none of which the farmers can afford.
One acre of land can provide food for a family and their animals, provide timber and firewood, protect them from the elements and be a place of beauty.
During the COVID lockdown, we trained to become Forest Garden specialists and our plan and goal is to introduce Forest Gardens in all of the villages we support. To find out more about the Trees for the Future Forest Garden Training Centre click here.
Subsistence farmers in northern Uganda dig their fields with a hoe. It can take one farmer twelve days to clear one acre. This is why farmers work together. Twelve farmers will clear one farmer's land one day and move to the next farmer the next day until everyone has an acre of land to plant their seeds.
A few farmers have oxen to plough their fields. Cows and ploughs will take up to two days to clear an acre. The farmers will provide a ploughing service to other farmers, if they can afford to pay.
At a time when there is an urgent need for more food production and in a place where there is plenty of fertile land, the farmers dream of tractors.
MASSEY FERGUSON TE20
to the rescue
For many years this Massey Ferguson TE20 (1956) sat in a shed in the north of England. Today it is ready to plough fields in northern Uganda. Thanks to the stoic and heroic efforts of Forgotten People's Projects founder Alex Latim the tractor travelled from the UK to Uganda.
This old tractor is perfect for the conditions in northern Uganda. Everything is mechanical and it seems to be pretty indestructable (as proved by it sitting in a field for decades). Tractor training has taken place and we are excited that it will be in action for the next planting season and ploughing up to two acres an hour.
GIS and MAPPING
COVID also meant that we could not travel to Uganda for more than two years. We were forced to change how we did everything. We embraced technology and spent many hours during the long lockdown evenings marking where the farmers were on Google Maps. This led on to mapping on a more serious scale. We now use Esri software to map the crops that are grown, so we know where they are. This will help us plan for the future whilst monitoring the present. Please visit our Technology Page to see more detail.
This group is named after Nighty, a farmer we met in 2014. When we met her, Nighty was unable to feed her family and her children were eating grass and insects to survive. She had no possessions other than one saucepan and a 7 litre jerry can.
In this video, she explains how she moved from that to where she is today - leading a group of other people in her situation and transforming lives herself.
We always look for people in the most need and had never met anyone quite like Nighty before. Her transformation is inspirational and drives us to continue to help as many other Nighties as we can.