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UGA08 - Foundations for Farming Uganda & Sth Sudan: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: November 11, 2022

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator Following Visit in October

We hosted 28 people at a conference held in Jinja. The meeting took place over a day and a half (from Wednesday night until Friday morning) and gave us an opportunity to start the reconnection process with many of the partners through the network, and many potential new ones.

Recent Events

Foundations for Farming

great timeOver the course of the meeting John carried out a refresher training on Foundations for Farming which occupied approximately 4 hours. This was extremely well received even though many of the people in the room were practicing it, or had been trained in it, or were aware of the issues. As John pointed out during the training, there is so much to take in from both of the videos and the training, that there is no difficulty with hearing it a number of times.

What we did note was that there was a much higher level of receptivity and openness than we have experienced in the past to the teaching. This seems to be because the pandemic has raised a much higher level of awareness among Ugandans of the need for good agriculture to enable families to sustain themselves, and the limited alternatives that many of them had. This was highlighted by the two lockdowns that this country has had. The cumulative time of lockdown was two years with only a short gap between. It was worse for border towns like Tororo and Busia which had to endure another three months. Everybody ran out of savings and food etc and were effectively required to stay at home.

We cannot conceive how difficult this must have been. However, the testimonies at the meeting were quite remarkable and it is clear that those who are practicing these techniques are able not only to provide for their families, but now that lockdown has ended to develop enough surplus to pay school fees etc. This was truly exciting to see. 


Personal Stories 

Emmanuel Moyo 

moving storyEmmanuel is a refugee from South Sudan. He talked about having been trained in a Foundations for Farming (FFF) training which had been organized by Thomas Lubari in 2018 (I think. If I am not mistaken this was a training that BHW had assisted in financing). He had taken up FFF where he lives in Palorinya Camp in the Moyo/Obongi District in West Nile Uganda.  This is a very large refugee camp (with over 128,000 people) although not the largest in Uganda.  

The training was done in Jinja and was actually carried out by two trainers from Zimbabwe, one of whom they recall was ‘William’ and the other name they could not remember, plus Thomas.  Since then, Emmanuel has carried out four other trainings in the camp of up to 30 people. He has therefore trained 120 people but many of them are very actively also teaching other people in their communities. This is really exciting, and Emmanuel came across as a particularly switched on and committed trainer. He advised that after learning about watering and mulching his first harvest was good and gave them the ability not only to feed their family, but also to sell some produce at the market in the camp. He got 700 kilograms from a 45 metre by 45 metre plot of maize. This equates to 3.5 tonnes per hectare which is an extremely good crop (the Sub Saharan African normal being 1 tonne per hectare).  He has also grown onions, which he sells. 

Emmanuel has nine children and his first wife had died. He has remarried. He is part of the Life Gospel Ministries network.  

As part of the network of people that he has trained he has also started a small savings scheme which has been registered and certified in Uganda. This saving scheme enables people to save some money which is set aside for seeds, school fees and possibly to pool money for the rental of land. They’re planning to rent larger plots of land and grow more so that they can have more vegetables for selling, so this group is actually very active.  

Emmanuel has also been involved in conflict resolution between parties and is assisting to some degree in the trauma resolution which most of the South Sudanese refugees have suffered and continue to suffer. The skills in relation to trauma resolution were learned during the trainings given by Thomas in 2018 or 2019. When we report further on FFF and a way forward for Thomas and Joyce there will be a recommendation that part of FFF training in the camps in future also be given over to resolution of trauma, as this issue came up several times.  

The government (and World Food Program) has now cut the food ration per refugee. Initially it was 12 kilograms per refugee per month of maize, which has recently been reduced to 8 kilograms per month, and now to 4 kilograms per month of rice.  The refugees are now no longer able to be sufficient on the food provided by the government, and they are now looking to have to be more self-sufficient.  However, the Government has made available small plots of land for refugees in the camps for growing, and this does enable them to be somewhat self-sustaining. There are however the usual ongoing issues of who actually owns the land allocated and who has authority over it, and whether rent is needing to be paid etc. It is a never-ending struggle.  

We were extremely moved by Emmanuel’s story. He is clearly someone who has been well trained, and we are grateful to Thomas for his commitment to enable these refugees to start to be self-sufficient. The effects are rippling through the camp.


Obadiah Batali 

moving storyObadiah had a story that John and I were deeply moved by too. Obadiah is a pastor in the Bidibidi Refugee Camp [he is in a sub camp called Yoyo Zone 3]. He has lived in the refugee camp for six years now and is in his late 50s. He is a refugee from South Sudan and lived in the Central Equatorial State before war drove him to Uganda.  

He talked about the reduction in the food allocation to 4 kilograms per person per month, and how that has created a great degree of trauma, particularly as the food ration has now changed to rice from maize. South Sudanese people typically do not eat rice. Obadiah is an ordained Anglican minister but is presently part of the Life Gospel Ministries Network run by Thomas. He trained at the Bishop Ellison theological College in Arua in 1993, and subsequently ministered in Arua and elsewhere after he became a priest in 2000. He had previously been a Deacon in the same district. In 2009 he was appointed to Juba in South Sudan. He was a trainer of teachers in Christian education. 

The civil war started In Juba one Friday in June 2016. His wife died in the same month. Because of the war he had to relocate to Uganda in November 2016 and has been in the Bidibidi camp ever since. His eldest son died tragically in 2017. He has 3 daughters, one of whom is training as a nurse and being supported in the Jinja Vocational Training scheme that we support. He was also trained in FFF in the same training as Emmanuel and Isaiah Dada, another pastor at the meeting. The trainers came from Zimbabwe. Obadiah, in addition to training people in FFF, has also been involved in peace building and trauma ministry since that time. He has done a number of trainings in the camp and continues to also practice FFF himself.


Isaiah Dada  

moving storyIsaiah is in Zone 1 in Bidibidi Camp in the same camp and comes from the same Central Equatorial state of South Sudan. Most people are farming now in the camps, particularly now that the food ration has been cut. Samaritans Purse does provide some seeds and Isaiah practices and teaches FFF as a result of the same training as the earlier two.  

Isaiah summed up that FFF was one of the best things that he had discovered in his life, despite the initial opposition from others. He stated, humorously, that “everyone was addicted to the former method”. He said that FFF had greatly impacted the community and was now being well accepted. 

Isaiah described the difficulties with the obtaining of land security. If a small-scale farmer wishes to rent a portion of land, they are likely to pay approximately 50,000 shillings (US$10) for ¼ acre of land. This will support a family over the course of a year, but there is no security and quite often the land gets taken away by the landlord unexpectedly.


Here are some other stories shared by participants:

Vincent, who is part of a potential new partnership with Choice Baptist Church in Kampala, talked about adopting FFF in Kabale (Southwestern Uganda bordering Rwanda). Even though the government in Uganda still seems to push old styles of large-scale farming with tractors and significant ground disturbance there are changes happening.

They had set up an example plot in Kabale of land that had been overused and was now considered completely spent and unproductive. Landowners in that area had planted eucalyptus trees because the land was, in their opinion, useless. However, Choice Baptist Church did an example plot using part of the land with FFF techniques and planted beans. The other part of the land they planted the same but did not use FFF techniques. The outcome was that the land that they had not used FFF techniques on did not produce any beans at all, but the other land had a very good crop. Interest rose and subsequently they trained 100 farmers. Many of those farmers were able to get yields from 1 kg of seeds of 60 or 100 kilograms. There are now 1,000 farmers in the Kabale district who are trying to do FFF. Interestingly, this also includes HIV positive people who are generally characterized by a mindset of hopelessness, so this is a very positive outcome.

Reuben Tumuheirwe also gave a report on FFF in the Rukungiri district. There are lots of people that are practicing FFF in that area following training done by John and us in Rukungiri in 2016. For instance, one of the people, who is also called Justus, has planted three churches as a result of the training. He lives some kilometres from Rukungiri township. He grows tomatoes and popcorn and is teaching others. Reuben also gave an update on Everest who took early retirement from teaching because he saw the potential in FFF and was also carrying out a biogas project. He grows coffee and is actively teaching others the methods too. We have also previously reported on Elias, who in addition to still practising and teaching FFF in his area, is traveling around his district installing and building water tanks to enable irrigation to take place when there is no rain. He learned how to do this because his own farm is on the top of a hill, with no easily accessible water.

Anna Ocen had also reported taking steps to acquire two acres of land to the northeast of Mbale near Kween. Unfortunately, they rented two acres of land with poor management but, even though there had been a massive flood in the Mbale area this year causing significant loss of life and a huge loss of crops, they had been able to still get five bags (500 kilograms) of maize and she was pleased with that. She indicated that many others, as a result of the flooding, got nothing.