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Postcard from Uganda: providing local solutions to local problems

11 June 2013

Postcard from Uganda: providing local solutions to local problems

Photo: Christine is a farmer in Nakasongola district of Uganda

By Rosie Marfleet

On a bus journey a few years ago through central Uganda, I was taken aback by the phenomenally lush landscape that surrounded me. I remember wondering why, when it seemed to me that the conditions were perfect for farming, people were going hungry .

However, having recently been on an eye-opening first visit to one of Farm Africa’s projects in Uganda, I now understand that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Pests and crop diseases

I joined Farm Africa not long after that bus trip, since when I’ve learnt much more about the difficulties rural farmers in Uganda face. Although the climate is well suited to agriculture and the land is fertile, they struggle endlessly with crop diseases and pests that decimate their harvests.

But it wasn’t until my recent project visit that I fully appreciated how much of an impact these things can have, and also the value of Farm Africa’s staff expertise.

Our beans and peanuts project covers three districts: Luwero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola, Although all are within a two-hour drive of each other, the farmers our team work with in each area couldn’t be facing more different problems.

Dealing with drought

Farmer Baale George in his flourishing fieldIn Luwero, farmers at a training session told me that the biggest challenges they face include crop diseases and pests such as aphids and squirrels. But, when visiting farmers in Nakasongola district the following day, it was immediately clear to me that their main concern was the rain. The ground there is much harder and the landscape far less green. Farmers spoke of their struggles with erratic rainfall and periods of drought.

Speaking to more and more farmers, it became clear to me that the slight difference in the climate of Nakasongola really made a huge difference to the lives of families there. With rains being far less predictable, planting at the best time is far harder. Typical harvests were significantly smaller than those in neighboring districts.

So it’s essential to understand all the different challenges that the farmers Farm Africa works with have to face. Our staff live and work locally, so are ideally placed to provide tailored training and advice, and to find local solutions to local problems.

Producing enough food

The dedication and expertise of Farm Africa team means farmers in each district are learning the most relevant skills and techniques, as wel as being provided with the support they need to ensure that they can produce as much food as possible from their land.

With nine out of ten families in the region dependent on small-scale farming for their survival, this couldn’t be more important for the communities that we work with.

- Rosie is one of Farm Africa’s direct marketing officers

Read more about our work in Uganda