Increasing smallholder farmers' incomes through value addition
The early morning sun is unforgiving. But Bosco Oryem Owiny doesn’t seem to mind the heat. He is in the gardens ploughing away with his cow. As he works the machines, pushing the animal forward, sweat beads freely drip down his face.
Oryem is a rice farmer and a member of Awere Farmers Marketing Association in Kitgum district, one of the leading rice farmers’ associations in the district. He is ploughing and clearing his field in preparation for the rice planting season. Many people here call it “opening up the land”. Oryem only recently graduated from using a hoe and a panga when opening his land. Even though using animals has made his work much easier, it remains very tedious and slow. But that is not all.
- The DIMAT project is in line with the Government of Uganda's Agricultural Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2010/2015 programme on "Market Access and Value Addition".
- Project is implemented by Enterprise Uganda, Kilimo Trust, Eastern Private Sector Development Centtre (EPSEDEC), Acholi Private Sector Development Centre (APSEDEC) and Private Sector Development and Consultancy Centre (PRICON).
- Total cost of the project is USD$ 2.6million.
- At least 200 MSMEs will access financial, market information, extension services and appropriate technologies.
"We used to go through a hard time finding market for our produce after harvesting. Very often we sold our rice at give-away prices. We simply did not know the right buyers; so we would sell to anyone who wanted to buy.” Sometimes traders from Kitgum town used to buy from them. “But they exploited us badly,” he says. His earnings were small and could not help him to cater for his family.
Then, things changed.
In 2011, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offered to support the members of Awere Farmers’ Marketing Association through a project known as the Development of Inclusive Markets in Agriculture and Trade (DIMAT). This project was established to transform agriculture in different parts of this country, including Kitgum. The 2. 6 million US D project is funded by UNDP and implemented by Enterprise Uganda, in conjunction with Kilimo Trust, Eastern Private Sector Development Centre (EPSEDEC), Acholi Private Sector Development Centre (APSEDEC) and Private Sector Development and Consultancy Centre (PRICON).
For the last two years DIMAT has facilitated the training of farmers from Gulu, Kitgum, Amuru, Pader and Lira in management and farming methods. The project has also helped to link the farmers to buyers and processors for their products and also helped them acquire modern tools for their farming and funds to support them.
We have been linked to Peyero Millers Association- the best marketing and processing company in Northern Uganda and now we are able to get the latest market information and links to buyers for our produce,” says Oryem.
“Once we are assured about the market for our produce, it is easy for us to concentrate on our farming,” says Olabongo Ceaser the chairman Awere Farmers Marketing Association. Farmers have also received training in financial management, savings and marketing. “We are now able to plan for our produce and to manage our finances to make profits,” Olabongo says.
“We expect to get tractors from Payero millers for the next season. This will make our work even more productive because tractors are more efficient than animals,” he adds.
Comprising 39 small producer farmer groups and nearly 800 members, Awere Farmers Association has had a turn around since the intervention of UNDP through the DIMAT project. “From 300 bags of rice per season before the UNDP-DIMAT intervention, today we produce 600 bags. And with the better farming practices and improved inputs, we are hoping to open 1500 acres of rice next season,” he says. The farmers’ personal lives have also improved. “Today, I get more out of my work, and I am able to feed my family and educate my children,” Oryem says. The future, he says, looks very bright for him and other farmers in his community.