AGRICULTURE is key for Uganda’s economy. It employs 68% of the population and supports millions of farmers. It is critical for sustainable development and poverty reduction. SOWI works with communities to provide training and opportunities so that subsistence rural farmers get out of poverty. Learning better farming techniques, managing a farm, timely planting and quality seeds are crucial parts of Agricultural production.
Northern Uganda has a long history in producing oilseeds including as subsistence food crops. There are large expectations from the commercialization of oilseeds as cash crop. The basic inclusiveness of the market is very much driven by location, with the regions such as around Lira having enough critical mass of demand from processing and trading to become commercial hotspots. The different hubs vary with regard to value chain configuration and type of oilseed crop. The Lira hub, which has the most developed oilseed value chain, attracted most VCD interventions.
Demand and production of oilseeds have been growing. Increases in production have been achieved through area expansion, not intensification through improvements in productivity. There is also increasing competition on the buyers’ side, between independent traders, agents for the industrial processors, and Farmers Cooperatives.
So, there is good potential for improvements in farmer income and inclusive economic development through oilseed Value Chain Development (VCD). SOWI uses all four types of intervention in VCD that use a different entry point in the market/value chain system:- (1) support to Farmers Cooperatives as a ‘push’ into the market (2) strengthening of service and finance provision via value chain financing (3) Market information and Business development services (BDS); a receptive private sector buyer as a market ‘pull’; and a favorable business climate that provides the necessary institutions.
Oilseed production in the Northern Region of Uganda, comprising of Sunflower, soya bean and sesame is promoted as a smallholder cash crop. Under the right conditions, oilseeds can – like cereals – be stored to exploit higher market prices between harvests. Oilseeds in Uganda are medium value cash crops, with no strong market premium for quality.
- SOWI promotes sustainable agriculture by encouraging organic farming. Farmers are being trained on sustainable organic farming based on the traditional methods they know.
- SOWI initiatives to link farmers to markets for their produce are shaping the destiny of rural farming communities.
Components under sustainable agriculture include; Soil and water conservation, seed and planting materials, kitchen gardening, post-harvest management, formation of production groups, value addition and cooperative management.
Use of Soil and Water Conservation
Use of soil and water conservation methods like digging of contours and cut off drainage, agro-forestry. Most farmers confessed that their soil is no longer fertile and that is why they get very low crop yield. Methods like digging contours to cut the running water and cut-off drainage at the edge of the compound to trap the running water which enhances good vegetable growing.
Formation of Farmers into Marketing Groups
The idea of people in the same economic activity grouping to increase production and profits began in Uganda 1913. For years Uganda had cooperative societies but they collapsed during twenty years of civil war, resulting in abject poverty in northern Uganda. Now, revamping cooperative societies for group marketing of farmer produce is the only option to reduce poverty.
At the village level, smallholder farmers collects their produce at a spot before it is transported for group marketing. The target is for farmers to get good quality produce which should compete on world market.
Quality Seeds Selection
SOWI has well trained Agronomist team who is responsible for seeds selection and purchase and Supplies Farmers with Quality certified seeds on the Market.
In order to accomplish our mission, SOWI has registered a sister organization with Uganda Registrar of Companies in the name of SOWI Farm Foundation Uganda Limited, A Company limited by Guarantee for Sustainability and We are in Partnership with Gahn Source Solution.