Improved Livelihoods of women farmers in Pader through Agribusiness

TAOU is currently implementing a three year Comic Relief funded Agri-enterprise in sunflower growing for women heads of families’ project in Pader district in Acholi sub region.

The project is designed to respond to an urgent need to restore agricultural production for food, income and employment opportunities for poor rural communities supporting large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS. This will be achieved by training participants in sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, capacity building and networking with partners, communities and relevant Government Ministries and other institutions and enabling women small holder farmers and orphans to access market intelligence information and retain rights to land.

The Civil war in Northern Uganda lasting two decades prevented the women, who comprise of 51% of the population from engaging in economically viable agriculture due to limited capital and lack of exposure to entrepreneurial practices and dynamics. The price of the surplus produce for sale is regulated by middlemen whose interest is to maximise profits. Absence of market intelligence, coupled with lack of appropriate financial support and services makes it impossible for these women to carry out viable agricultural business and improve their incomes. Trust for Africa’s Orphans will enhance productivity of crops, improving profitability and competitiveness of small scale farming by women in Pader district, linking the smallholder women farmers to more profitable markets.

TAO Uganda had ongoing consultations with women in Pader district for 6 month (June-Dec. 2010). Using a participatory approach, a two way information flow between TAO, the community, government officials and other development partners in the area. The approach encouraged information sharing, listening and respecting and understanding issues affecting women in Northern Uganda. The consultations established that although the women were engaged in agricultural activities, principally the agriculture for them was for provision of food for the family with little surplus for sale. Through the application of focus group discussions, Community advisory groups, participatory decision making and consensus building methodologies, the women said that undertaking agriculture as an enterprise was away to improve their incomes whilst also providing food for their families.

The women in Pader have been encouraged to mobilise themselves into groups focused on developing simple agribusiness plans that give them a long-term business outlook to agriculture; a better understanding of their business and which can be used to access finance from commercial sources; the groups will be facilitated in refining their market access within the locality and beyond and as a result this will increase their incomes and improve livelihoods.

How we do it

1.0 Provision of Market information:

Market information is important in agri-business. TAOU promoted smallholder farmers’ access to market information on sunflower buyers such as Mukwano and Mt. Meru through radio stations, church, extension staff and through the climate change volunteers among others to enable them make informed market decisions and access profitable markets for their produce.

The farmers used the information on commodity prices, trends and available markets to make informed decisions about profitable crops to grow, pricing of their produce, markets to penetrate and advantages of collectives markets, all of which increased their profits hence improved incomes and livelihoods.

A study trip for 38 women leaders to Kulika Uganda women groups in Oyam district and SHIVA Millers was conducted to explore techniques on production and marketing learning TAOU extension staff ensured that there was periodic market information to farmers on different enterprises in different locality and ensuring that women produce Quality produce in accordance to market demand.

600 women farmers had access to market information on pricing and markets for sunflower and 162 women farmers were able to bulk their produce collectively. In total, 12,503kgs were harvested and sold at Uganda shillings 1,100/= per Kg realising Uganda Shillings 13,753,300/= due to availability and accessibility to market information.

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Pest & disease identification Sunflower threshing &winnowing Trucks loaded with sunflower produce
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Korina Apio bought 5 goats after sell Lucy Akot bought 1 bull after sell


2.0 Promotion of Sunflower bulking

In a bid to promote collective marketing, TAOU encouraged the 600 women farmers to form cooperative groups so that they could do collective bulking after harvest. To this effect TAOU constructed three stores in three parishes and hired more three to help in bulking. 463 women farmers in the 20 groups established underwent training on sunflower agronomy. The trainings themes focused on records keeping for them to be able to determine the cost of sales during production and actual sales so as to determine their profitability in the season. Promotion of bulking led to the women farmers producing and selling the sunflower seed commercially. To this effect TAOU has constructed three stores to help the beneficiaries in bulking their produce collectively.

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Laminajiko store
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Aringa Store
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Apwor Store

3.0 Promotion of agricultural credit for self financing through Village Savings and Loan Associations.

TAOU successfully promoted access to agricultural credit services for small holder farmers through the promotion of Village savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) so as to facilitate agribusiness. Activities geared towards achieving this objective included among others formation of 20 Cooperative groups each with an average of 30 members in six parishes and mentored them in the principles of savings and credit.

By the end of 2013, 504 (84%) women farmers in the 20 groups established underwent training on Business planning and financial management for their VSLAs and households. They were able to use these skills to be able to determine the cost of sales during production and actual sales so as to determine their profitability in the season. The beneficiaries maintain records at household level where they keep truck of expenses and incomes. The savings culture among the beneficiaries will not only lead to accessing credit from external financiers for the much needed credit but will also help them acquire the necessary tools and equipment (e.g. spray pumps, watering cans) and establish proper farm infrastructure, including post-harvest and storage facilities and transportation means.

Members had integrated agricultural credit in their work, while farmers had developed a saving culture. Among the best practices adopted include;

  • Improved record keeping through use of tools such as pass books and counter books.
  • Formation of committees within the savings groups to ensure effective management,
  • Registration of the village savings and lending associations (VSLAs) or savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) at local levels (sub-county, county and local levels); and
  • Increasing participation of farmers in the management of their savings and credit schemes through holding periodic meetings.

VSLA (VILLAGE SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS) GROUP UP DATES APRIL 2014

  • This report covers the level of savings, level of borrowings and the amount not borrowed by each individual group.
  • It also shows the level of participation and commitment of the group members in their group savings.

vsla

NB: From the above table, it clearly shows good start for some groups while poor start for other groups; this has been on technical ground as far as entry of weekly savings and transactions are carried out.
What has been done was the training of VSLA individual group committee which included the chair person of VSLA, treasurer and secretary for one day.

This has imparted them with knowledge and skills on how transactions are carried out and entry can be made, and on the management basis, the chair persons have also been imparted with leadership skills for good VSLA and with these good results are expected by MAY 2014.

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Reasons why other groups also have low savings are attributed to some factors including but not limited to the following; Some groups gave a hand to save for seed first such as OPOOLACEN group while withholding weekly savings in the box, this was purposely to enable them purchase seeds despite the challenge Of unavailability of seeds from suppliers, while other groups savings are low due to poor leadership skills and management which has been addressed through special training on the VSLA group committee. Some group has low saving due to multiple savings groups, while other are completely unable due to lack of resources.