In 2011-2014, Ntulume Women Village Development Association undertook a food security and water improvement project in 27 households in Buwama Sub County. One of the members shifted to the Islands and NVIWODA stopped monitoring her leaving 26 active members in the project area. Rural women lacking knowledge on improving their farming techniques and an outcry to be trained the number has been increased to sixty-six active farmers.
Buwama Sub County is one of the sub counties in Mpigi district located 69 kilometres south East of Kampala City -Uganda.
The families faced food insecurity with an average family affording one meal a day, poor nutrition for those that could not afford to put food on the table, land scarcity for cultivation, domestic violence and poverty escalated the situation.
Food Security Intervention:
The NVIWODA food security was an intervention funded by to restore the family to its former glory through training women in food production. The training centered on teaching women modern farming techniques of improving crop productivity and involving them to establishing a kitchen garden, making sack mounds, preparing organic farm manure and improving soil fertility. It was meant to enhance women to produce enough food for the family and a have a surplus for sale. The surplus would give households additional income to meet other family needs like providing scholastic materials for their children in school and buy other household requirements.
After a three-year close monitoring, of the food security project, 26 households have improved with a measurable achievement above their counterparts who did not have training in food security. The impact of the farmers has spread out to the communities in which they live.
Food security in Mpigi district has been downplayed by families and leaders that, has prompted NVIWODA to spread out and increase the number of beneficiaries to sixty six families.
A visit to the household located in different parishes, there is evidence of skills training of members who participated in the NVIWODA food security intervention.
In Buwunga Village, Bongole Ssabaddu Parish – Buwama Sub County Nazziwa Clotilda trained in Food Security, income generation and livelihoods. She takes the NVIWODA group to the garden just next to the banana plantation surrounding their house. It is intercropped with Coffee trees, she points to an expanse of maize, potatoes and cassava gardens she has cultivated.
Nazziwa explains that she followed instructions of the trainers in achieving the highest yield from the garden. “When the rains come I dig channels that run through my garden to trap all the rainwater, I later mulch the gardens to avoid moisture losses during drought,” she says.
After learning soil management skills, Nazziwa barely uses chemical fertilizers, she learnt to prepare her own compost manure, organic liquid and plant tea manure, which she explains have helped her improve soil fertility. “We have been cultivating these soils for over thirty years without replenishing the fertility, and I am surprised we never knew how to improve it” Nazziwa explains the importance of the training at St. Jude Family Project in Masaka.
She however has challenges – the crop yield has increased from a single acre to two acres of tilled land under crop. She is experiencing a drop in demand for potatoes on the market. She can only keep the crop in the garden because she lacks storage facilities and value addition techniques like slicing the potatoes and storing them. This practice is not available in this part of the country!
“The marketing processes are more painful,” Nazziwa explains referring to the exploitative character of buyers. She says businesspersons are willing to pay shillings 1400 per Kilogram of coffee instead of shillings 2000 market price. However for Maize, the work involved in preparing it for the market is tasking. “At least we sell off the maize immediately to raise money for paying school fees for the children”, Nazziwa explains. “I harvested 600 kilograms last season and 800 kilograms this season which I sold off at shillings 300 per kilogram to raise shillings 1,800,000 and 2,400,000/- respectively.” She says “I paid shillings 600,000 for my senior two son, 40,000/- for the primary three child, we spent 140,000/- for home use and treatment, bought iron sheets to complete the house and I saved 500,000/- for the last season alone.” She adds.
“Our nutrition has improved because we have vegetable gardens, which provide us vegetables like spinach, carrots, green pepper, Amaranthus. These have added value to our meal.” Nazziwa explains.
She appreciates the 1,400-liter water storage tank which stores rainwater thereby reducing the amount of time she used to spend at the water point about one kilometer away from their home.
Nazziwa says she keeps records of all activities ranging from tilling the land, planting to application of manure, crop sale, as she explains have helped her keep track of history of crops.
NVIWODA trained women in sustainable integrated agriculture to improve their livelihoods. The trainings included integrated agriculture: soil management, crop spacing, and animal husbandry, making organic pesticides, soil conservation methods, post-harvest management, value addition, marketing, land rights and domestic violence prevention. To enable a rural woman be productive and gain from her sweat, she needed this holistic and empowering knowledge and skills.
Under the food security for family arrangement, the women planted bananas, cassava, potatoes, maize, yams, coffee, beans, groundnuts and cowpeas. They also rear cows, pigs, goats and poultry. These had a multipurpose benefit to the families as a source of income, nutrition and their waste acted as manure to the gardens.
NVIWODA built 21 water tanks for its members, to store rainwater during the rainy season. The water tanks helped women reduce on the time spent at the well to do other productive work. Buwama Sub-County has a shortage of water with water points located about half a kilometer to three kilometres away from homes. Women carry water on the head, except for a few young girls who would use bicycles.
According to the Coordinator of Ntulume Village Women Development Association- Cissy Edith Nyarwa, the needs assessment survey revealed that on average the daily family meals were limited to a single meal; the women worked more hours in the gardens but got less yield of their effort. She says the women in rural areas would have produced enough food for the family if they received support and skill in food production, she adds. “From the single set up in the city of Kampala NVIWODA was setting out to have impact on rural women.” Nyarwa says.
In the same area of Buwunga Village, Bongole Ssabaddu Parish, another beneficiary Maureen Babirye Nakiganda works on 50 feet by 200 feet piece of land. She grows potatoes intercropped with maize. She also has Bananas around her home, a well-established kitchen garden of tomatoes, cabbage, amaranthus, and salads. She also grows passion fruit, oranges and two jack fruit trees.
Babirye remembers the training at St Jude in Masaka, to have changed her life both socially and economically. They are six members in a family including four children. She sometimes works on a family land where she has grown coffee. She also hires one acre of land at 200,000/- per year.
“I have mastered soil management skills,” Babirye explains, how she uses maize stems to mulch the soil, applies compost manure, plant tea, uses cow dung and pig waste immersed in water to produce manure tea for use in her seedbeds. “For vegetables, I prepare the garden and since I don’t have a measuring tape I measure the spacing using hand gaps to determine spacing according to how we were trained,” she further explains.
Within the home, the family owns two pigs with six piglets, a cow and four hens provide income for the family. Babirye explains that the cow provides milk and waste for making manure. The hens lay eggs, which have enabled family members, eat at least three eggs each within a week.
Babirye and her family grow, potatoes, maize, Bananas, Cassava, beans, cabbage and onions and groundnuts. “We have enough food for the home; we also sell of the surplus to raise money to meet our needs like paying school fees for our children in lower classes.” She explains. “We can also have meat three times a month which never used to be before.” She says. The new farming practice has helped the family to enjoy improved nutrition for both the adults and children. She also remembers that disease has generally reduced among family members she added that, “when my child was sick of pneumonia I fed her on vegetables and when I took her to hospital for check up, she had healed”.
Babirye appreciates the impact of NVIWODA training on her life. “NVIWODA trained us in food security, we learnt farming methods, and we now know how to produce food sustainably for the home. She says. “I have made an effort to train my neighbors around the village who didn’t get a chance to attend NVIWODA classes” she says, “My neighbors have already learnt to make manure.”
“From sale of crops, I earned shillings 400,000/=, which I have paid for a plot of land to expand land area for cultivation. I paid for treatment for children,” she says.
Babirye has aspirations; she lives in a single room with her husband and their three children. “I want to upgrade from a single room to a big house of about three rooms” she anticipates. She hopes to send her children to better schools from earnings raised from sale of her produce. “I am planning to join women groups because now I have a sustainable income from sale of produce. I can pay my subscription fee.” She explains.
NVIWODA Program Coordinator, Cissy Edith Nyarwa explains that the training was meant to empower women produce food for the family. After training 27 women, NVIWODA further secured support from Global Fund for Women to train more 40 women making a total of 67 farmers.
Nalongo Nandago Agnes of Buyaya Village, Mbizzinnya Parish is one of the forty women trained in food security. At her home, she is busy beating beans harvested from her last harvest. The rain is approaching and she struggles to collect pieces of Iron sheets to cover the harvest and save the beans from the approaching rain. She has an abundant harvest this season and lacks storage facilities.
She cuts a banana sheath from a banana stem to tap rainwater as she uses a hoe to dig a channel so that she can divert the rainwater to the nearby banana plantation and cassava garden. “I need this water in my garden,” she says, “This water I am trapping will help me when the dry season begins”.
Nandago is one of the second group of 39 achieved beneficiaries who underwent training in sustainable integrated agriculture provided by NVIWODA in 2014, she has learnt new skills on crop management, use of organic fertilizers to grow vegetables use i.e. compost manure and plant tea. She and her family live on the hill slope on which they shifted two years ago.
”I grow many crops, Bananas, cassava, coffee, potatoes on the six piece acre of land, which we partly use for grazing our cattle, I also grow beans and groundnuts,” Nandago explains. She says that she also owns a kitchen garden that has eggplants, carrots and amaranthus which she has sustained with trapped rainwater.
Nandago boasts of owning three cows which provide milk and they generate money from the sale of milk. “We also have three sows which are about to give piglets. Each one of them will produce between ten to fifteen piglets of which we shall sell each piglet at shillings 40,000 multiplied by at least 30 piglets, we expect to earn shillings 1,200,000 million.” She explains. She says that the animals provide waste, which she uses as manure in her garden.
She says that she has experienced better crop and vegetable yield due to use of manure and attributes the progress from the training she received from NVIWODA. “I have a chance among my neighbors around the village because I use herbicides which I have made myself to spray the vegetables.” She says.
Nandago explains that she harvests a surplus 54 kilograms of beans that she sells at 2000/- per kilogram. She however regrets that she has no command of the market prices, which sometimes discourage her from selling her produce. She says that market is available for all crops.
She relates her status to the previous one before she got training from NVIWODA as a great step in her life. “I have won the confidence of my husband and domestic violence is no more in our home,” she explains. NVIWODA training has improved my status in the home’ “My husband now recognizes my contribution and appreciates me.” Nandago narrates.
“Before training, I would just sow my seed anyhow, the harvest was poor and I always thought there was somebody bewitching me.”
Prossy Mirembe living at Buyaya village, Mbizzinnya parish explains while responding to the changes she has experienced since she underwent NVIWODA food security training.
Prossy Mirembe had a chance to train in food security; I was among the priority offered to be trained from Buwama Sub County by NVIWODA. “When I returned I wanted to act immediately before ‘steam’ reduced from me.” She was reacting to the mindset change she was feeling after the training. “I own Chicken- layers, cultivate potatoes, maize, cassava and bananas.
“I have improved the laterite soils to grow every type of crop I want,” Mirembe explained the knowledge she had attained in soil management. She uses pig waste and chicken droppings as fertilizers in the garden. She has improvised plant tea manure that she applies as a pesticide to spray pests on the vegetables. Prossy Mirembe works on an acre piece of land.
NVIWODA Program Coordinator explains that the training the women underwent was to help women improve on crop yield per unit of land employed. “They were training in crop preservation methods, post-harvest handling and storage of crop harvests.’ Cissy explains.
However, Prossy Mirembe says when she harvests the beans she uses red pepper and cedar commonly known as “Xmas tree” as a pesticide to stop bean weevils from attacking the beans. “I can store the harvest for three months until the next planting time. This guarantees enough food available for the family.” Mirembe explains. She has helped neighbors within her village to adopt sustainable integrated agriculture.
In the whole of Buwama Sub County, the grass is green. “It is a rainy season and work is a good story, there is no drought.” Joyce Namugumya living at Busebwe village, Ssango Parish tells her experience as she proposed we converse in the field as she does some work in her garden. Namugumya has a family of seven with three students in boarding school.
She admits working in ignorance before undergoing NVIWODA training that she says has changed her life forever. “I have skills in agriculture and animal husbandry. I have cultivated two acres of cassava, half an acre of potatoes, one acre of maize, beans, groundnuts and vegetables this season.” She says. Namugumya explains that they are working on eight acres of land that bring out favorable incomes.
She has transformed the barren land located on the slopes of Busebwe. “I use organic manure generated from animal waste, partition the land and dig channels allover to trap rain water.’ She says. When the dry season starts I have no worry but continue managing my crops until harvest time.” Namugumya explains how the training has enabled her manage her gardens. “I have 14 sows which provide waste and urine for the fertilizer. I only face the hurdle of carrying the manure uphill.” Namugumya says. She has to pay workers to carry the manure uphill.
In the last season ending August, she harvested 3,500 kilograms of maize, 500 kilograms of shelled groundnuts and cassava, which she sold to earn money. The buyers pay for the cassava in the garden. “I have fully paid third term school fees for all the four students in secondary school,” she narrates.
About the market for her crop, Namugumya explains that buyers depend on the season. But she does not regret the market for her produce. “What is not bought reverts to feeding the pigs, this is why it becomes necessary to keep animals,” She says. “I also maintain slow yielding crops to ensure there is enough for sale the next season”.
Namugumya remembers NVIWODA training which transformed her life. She does not regret the time she spent on the training’ “People envy my work and most of my neighbors come for lessons on how I maintain high yielding crops.” Namugumya narrates. She has steady improved incomes for the last two years. “In July I sold cassava and potatoes for shillings 1,200,000 and paid school fees for my daughter at Kyambogo University.” She says. “I managed to save shillings 280,000”.
Best farming practices have changed Namugumya’s life as she expanded from cultivating 1.5 acres of land to Seven acres from which she expects to become a food supplier to boarding schools in Mpigi district.
She has one challenge, “I have a problem of thieves so I cannot put up a granary.” She laments.
NVIWODA has encouraged women to start serious agriculture with a vision to economic returns from their effort. At first 27 women with South Mawokota Development Association were mobilized. Provided seeds, Farm tools, and water tanks for harvesting rainwater and thereby reduce on time spent fetching water. The women started growing food to feed the family. Nutrition of family members improved.
Peninah Kamoga lives on five acres of land in Busebwe village, Ssango Parish, with only three other family members. She says that she was incited into hard work after training. It gave her a vision after she had failed to work the five acres of land because the soils were infertile. “NVIWODA gave us training and seeds, farm tools; it also constructed for us a water tank for harvesting rain water.” Kamoga narrates, “This was my starting point,” she says.
Kamoga owns two cows and five pigs, which, she says, have helped her, improve soil fertility on the five acres of land. “I grow maize, potatoes, bananas and cassava together with green vegetables which I pick from the kitchen garden.” She explains. She uses farm and organic manure to improve the quality of soil. “This season I harvested 700 kilograms of maize grain which I sold at 400/- per kilogram to earn shillings 280,000. The money helped me to pay school fees for my children.” Kamoga explains. She complains the low prices businesspersons offer for their produce but was happy she has what to sell! “My husband supported me during the training and has become part of me and we can work together.” Kamoga narrates that she used to be an isolated woman before NVIWODA gave her the skills that transformed her life. “I can sell and save money, I have joined women Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO), where I save 15,000.” She says.
Kamoga narrates that she has trained in market research, she can struggle to find market for her produce and she can’t fail to sell what she has.
This is an intervention for women to contribute sustainably for the well being of families. Women living in rural areas still face problems of land on which to grow food. This is a challenge to food security and sustainable land management.
The NVIWODA intervention has helped husbands appreciate the role of their wives as partners within the family system. The training opens up women opportunities to participate in sustainable development.