Uganda, Africa

UGA07 - Rukungiri income generation programme: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: September 9, 2018

Report by Uganda Partnership Facilitator Following Visit


Key people: Justus Matsiko & Reuben Tumuheirwe 

John Vlaming (BHW's agricultural director) and I met with Reuben and Justus on 15-17 June 2018. 


Recent Events

Cows and Milk Cooler

Justus has now moved his family to Mbarara which is about two hours away from the school and Rukungiri. The move was needed to enable him to find appropriate grazing land and a reasonable lease for the cows and also to re-establish the milk cooler, both of which are now operating in Mbarara. John and I quizzed Justus very carefully about his reasons for moving and, in comparing notes afterwards, were quite satisfied with the explanations which also seemed to make financial sense. They were:
i) Good land for cattle grazing is easier to obtain around Mbarara. They are renting grazing.
ii) The milk cooler was not doing well in Rukungiri township due to its location. Another milk cooler had been opened right next door to it once the one that Justus had installed was seen to be making money. Milk vendors use unethical practices such as injecting and putting formalin (a poison used to embalm) in the milk to preserve it. Because Justus didn't do this there were losses associated with failure to sell all of the milk. The business is doing a lot better in Mbarara where there are dairy factories who take the excess production.

The milk cooler is now producing about 2.5m UGX (approx US$660) per month profit all of which is being used to support the school. Reuben and Justus do get some support from the milk cooler as well. 

Chainsaw Business

The chainsaw business was unable to continue because the Government has stopped the ability to fell trees to some degree. This has created a black market but Reuben has also found it impossible, from a health perspective, to continue to operate it after his accident. He sold the chainsaw and used it to purchase 3 acres of land about 10 kilometres outside Rukungiri township. He intends to plant pineapples on that land.

Pineapples are highly likely to be a good and lucrative crop in that area. John talked to him about this proposal and it has merit, however, having bought the land Reuben does not have enough money to obtain the pineapple spikes for the planting and asked us if we would be able to provide some of the funding (approx $1,500). When we discussed that it had originally been intended that the funds for the chainsaw were to be a loan, he was not at all clear on that. I specifically recall that, when it was purchased some years ago and all four of us were there at his and Monica’s property, there was some preliminary discussion but we would have to accept that the arrangements for repayment were never clarified. The same African mindset probably exists around the chainsaw as around other attitudes towards “loans”. 

While we accept his explanation relating to selling the chainsaw and think that he has made a good decision in relation to the land purchase we are unsure whether BHW should support a loan of some sort to enable him to get farming inputs and wonder if he could apply for a loan through the EM Fund (UGA07b). He also indicated that he does not have the money at this stage as he has spent a lot of money helping the church, the school and relatives. This is probably correct as neither Reuben nor Justus have vehicles or homes. In fact both of them are tireless in endeavoring to assist people and help them improve. 

Honey Business

Reuben is not presently doing the honey business. It simply seemed to us that it was “too hard” for him to do at this stage. He has not given up on the business and does not want to sell his honey equipment as he understands that it is a good quality and quite unique. At present he does not have the resources to pursue the matter and would be faced with significant Government compliance costs to even get the business off the ground (around US$3,000). We discussed whether he should sell the honey equipment and use the funds to enable him to purchase the inputs for pineapple growing but he was not keen to do this and also does not think there is a great market for the equipment.

continuing to trainFoundations for Farming

Reuben is doing some ongoing teaching and training in Foundations for Farming. He has taught three one-day seminars using the video but unfortunately his computer has broken down. We think it would be of benefit to supply him with a small projector which is able to be self-powered and utilized for training. We would expect the cost for this to be around US$300 (including a blue tooth speaker) but think that this investment would be repaid many times over.

Farmers’ Co-operative Group

There is a group of 27 farmers who are now practicing Foundations for Farming (FfF) in and around Rukungiri. In short, this group represents people who originally attended the Foundations for Farming training in 2016 plus about another 14 people who have been trained by people who went to the original training. All of them see the value in FfF.

From our travels around the region looking at farms John was able to see significant implementation of FfF on many different farms. We visited seven. You will see from his report (INT06) how pleased he is with all of this.

loan beneficiariesThe association also has a small microloan programme to help with inputs for farming and other small business activities. At this stage this is a table loan programme which has been going since November 2017 and has a capital balance of approximately 2,600,000 UGX (US$690). At present about eight of the farmers have accessed loans. The loan programme is based on individuals purchasing a share in the programme, making small savings into it, and their funds then being lent out and repaid with interest.

John and I discussed this group, which we were greatly impressed with, and thought it might be a good idea to assist this group with a grant of say US$2,000 to assist it to grow to the next level.  We think that this would enable more farmers to access loans earlier on and start to bring a greater level of stability.

What impressed us a lot was that the farmers who we met on site all said how much they had appreciated the training, did not ask for any funding, and were able to show us crops which were clearly better than their neighbours.