Skilling Rural Women Farmers Food Security Project is aimed at first and foremost, to produce women who act consciously and holistically within their families and communities. In Gomba District, there is a training project – Ntulume Village women Development Association (NVIWODA) Food Security Project, has directly benefited 45 rural women farmer households located in Kabulasoke sub-county. The idea is to equip women in the district with skills in integrated and sustainable agriculture enterprise development. The project is funded by United Methodist Women – U.S.A.
Ms.Nyarwa Cissy, the Programme Coordinator of NVIWODA says, “Women need to share their issues and knowledge in order to change from the status they are in to another level. Empowering women especially in the rural areas is vital because, they are the core producers of food in this nation, not only for the nation, but also for a National Gross Profit (NGP) and families.
Prosy Nakazibwe, one of the beneficiaries, is a very active lady in the field. She believes in profitable farming, and proper land use is first and foremost her concern. She believes in protecting the soil, avoiding soil erosion is important to her, so that her crops do not get washed away.
Prosy Nakazibwe, practices mixed farming, during monitoring visit, Prossy says, she has plans to cultivate more land, and planned to plant Maize the next season, “by the end of the month the garden will be ready for sowing” with a smile, she said.
After training, Prosy, learnt to grow all types of vegetables, cabbages, amaranthus, “I eat some and feel proud because I sell vegetables to get money, I now have enough sauce, she explained.
She also runs fish farming and on a rope she owns piggery on her compound, when asked about how she came up with the idea of fish farming, she said “earlier on I had dug a fish pond, there was no fish in it, but because NVIWODA took me for training, I learnt how to manage aquaculture. When I returned, I bought fish fries worth Ug. Shs.7, 000/- (equiv. to $2.3), when they grow I will fish and improve on the family diet and even sell off some fish to earn money.
Prosy, opted to join other women in Gomba for training on how to deepen her knowledge, as a woman and as a person interested in improving her economy and life of her family.
The Programme Coordinator of NVIWODA says, besides training women in sustainable and integrated agriculture skills, we also realized that some of the women were lagging behind, due to issues associated to domestic violence, the organization therefore had to create awareness about women’s human rights; a component that could address gender based violence. We made sure; we introduced them to the Uganda Police in Kabulasoke, so that they could be able to access assistance, even after training.
The training was aimed at making women understand issues of Food Security and the important roles that they play in providing food for the families. So first the women’s rights and responsibility, this aspect of training conducted in partnership with Uganda Police, was to enable them access to specific information that advance their human rights and equip them with the capacity to handle domestic violence.
What are human rights in context of women?
Right to life, right as a human being, right to family economy, right to family capital, concerns the gender based violence. The women must have education on how to end gender based violence in homes; and they need to get to the causes, presence of domestic violence and how to end them.
Today there is food insecurity in many Ugandan homes, because the land cannot produce enough family food, the change in weather is destroying livelihood prolonging poverty. Therefore learning it from the partnership with Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), the women received training on their rights to owning family land on which they feed the family through agriculture.
Culturally in Uganda, women do not own land, man does and sometimes plus what is grown on it, the male mind must change. These Gomba women want to effectively till the land and produce family food and make surplus to generate household income.
Cissy, explained that women feared to access the unutilized family land or confidently seek permission to utilize it. It was important to educate the women about land rights because women do not own the land where they grow food. In the field, NVIWODA food security project is focused on training these women in practical hands on learning for profitable agriculture through proper land use.
The skilling project, which begun in Mpigi District is now expanding to Gomba District to cover a total of 112 women farmers, receiving correct agriculture knowledge and best farming practices.
The women in Kabulasoke Sub-county, use small pieces of land, they need skills on how to work on limited space of land for intensive crop and animal husbandry. The training organized in phases, gives these women the different farming practices. In the first phase, the women were at St.Jude Integrated and Sustainable Agriculture Training Centre, Masaka, where they learnt making manures that help them to improve soil. The women had to understand science around the soil, and educate them of soil infertility and that’s why their yields were poor. In addition they learnt how to improve their soils, by making compost manure, and plant teas, in addition they were taught to practice animal husbandry, which is a core component of improving farming and food production today.
Farmers learnt techniques of planting and spacing e.g. digging a pit of 3×2 and spacing 10 ft to plant bananas, intercropping and all this knowledge women needed it, in order to achieve better crop yields. Because most women did not know how to grow vegetables, they were taught growing a variety of vegetables as an important food to improve family’s diet.
Women learnt on how to make plant tea, as natural herbicides, to spray pests that attack the crops. In the crop husbandry training, the women are taken through the practice of crop agriculture for sustainable livelihoods to be able to produce enough food for home consumption and the surplus for sale, general and intensive practices in sustainable mixed agriculture in climate change situation.
Women are also trained in animal husbandry, and go through methods that could help them raise zero grazing animals for milk by products. Piggery is for those women who are keen on pork as family business, some women are interested in different types of poultry, and many of these women are interested in mixed farming and to produce manure for their gardens.
Back to accountability, the women trained in book keeping, equipping them with knowledge skills and learning to plan, budget and effectively manage their farm finances, through ability to calculate cost inputs and outputs, to be able to practice financial management for sustainable farming.
Gomba is a newly created District and Kabulasoke sub county, has specially been our next target in 2014. We work with Nezikokolima Women’s Group, whose members had already been empowered by NVIWODA before. In order to reach more rural women we considered an already organized group which was Nezikokolima Women’s group, and because Gomba District was badly heat by drought, we thought it as a priority to empower women with skills and knowledge in food production.
The Gomba women learnt to be effective women in their families, Land rights and ending home violence, handling ownership of land issues in the family income and sensible family planning, they have opened up new land for which to practice sustainable agriculture.
Nakamya Annet, who is the Secretary of the group says, “Before intervention of the project we did not have enough food, and we used to cultivate the land, using traditional farming methods and did not yield enough food like now. We never grew vegetables, and if one wanted greens, would only buy from neighboring market. But after training we are empowered to grow enough food, and most women engaged in the project have improved their diet”, she emphasized.
Horticulture has become important in the family. Women have established kitchen gardens and introduced vegetables to the family meal. They have introduced raised stands where they grow vegetables like Sukuma week (Kale), cabbages, carrots, egg plant, which has given leverage on avoiding chicken and goats that eat up vegetables.
Before training I used to plant anyhow but now I plan my gardens and which crops to plant. Kevina testifies that, after training, she has planted 60 banana suckers. However, “I have a challenge of registration of land where I live, as the, the owners are demanding for a lot of money Ugx.350, 000/= for registration and I cannot afford”. On the land Kevina grows cassava, potatoes, beans, bananas and coffee.
A 65 Year’s, Kevina, who lives with grandchildren, became more innovative and did things differently from what she learnt, and she displays a mixture of plant teas, which she uses to fertilize her crops.
Nakamya Annette said, “We learnt to grow food in a sack mound and in dry season I can still grow vegetables which I am able to irrigate using drip irrigation with plastic bottles. I recycle the gunny bags, put in manure and plant vegetables; these are easier to water during dry season.
Because Nakamya was challenged by lack of water to irrigate her vegetables, in her compound, she dug a Ditch for harvesting rain running water, which could help her during season.
She narrated “the borehole is not far away from my home, but the problem is that, it becomes congested because it is the only one in the area and people from neighboring villages get water from the same source, one can even put up at dark and leave the queue after 11.00 p.m.
Margret Lubwama said earlier on, “I did not know that a woman can grow vegetables, I have now planted enough vegetables and food.” During the study tour, I realized that I could start up a poultry project. On return from training, I developed interest and started poultry keeping with a 100 broilers, which I sold during X- mas season at a profit; this helped me to raise money to re-stock more. I have a second batch; I feed them on greens like. This grass substitutes for feeds I mix black jack and yam leaves, she explained.
Jovanice Nakandi, became acquainted with sustainable and integrated agriculture planting methods, after training. “I did not know that even when you have a small space you can grow some food, when I returned I utilized a small piece of land. I now grow beetroot and have also planted 80 bananas suckers; this will fill the gap of food shortage. I use composed manure before planting the crops. i.e. bananas, coffee and maize.
“I prepare manure in a simple way, I collect cow dung and Napier grass, which I feed my cow it gives me wastes which I utilize to prepare compost manure”, Nalubega Margret, explained.
Margret Lubwama, is growing food on a wider acreage, she owns 6 acres of land, where she grows bananas, cabbages, eggplant, beetroot, ground nuts, Irish potatoes, cassava and sweet potatoes. “I love this type of agriculture because one is sure of enough food at home, from which I will also earn money”. However, Margret says, she has a challenge of land, because she is a squatter, usually rents land for growing food.
Najjuma Nalubega, after training planted 12 stems of bananas, cabbages, groundnuts, egg plant, I use manure and have made a sack mound, when it is dry season, I drip irrigate using recycled plastic bottles. She concluded by saying that “I shared the knowledge with my husband and advised him to use compost manure in his passion fruit garden.
When, Mr.Musa, was interviewed he had to say” When my wife returned from the training, she explained what she learnt i.e. planting on raised garden stands and using organic manure, I have adopted her advice. She emphasized cooperation within the family; I accepted to support her in whatever she does. She taught me how to collect types of grass, cow dung materials together that make compost manure, dig contours to retain rain water in the garden, generally after training my wife works harder than before, I feel as a husband and family, we have benefited from the project. With a smile Najjuma says,” the knowledge has opened up my eyes and I no longer have shortage of sauce and food”.
A beneficiary of the food security project and a Woman Councilor of LC 11, -Kabulasoke B, Ms. Mary Nassanga, explains that, “I have opened up half an acre of groundnuts and cassava, half an acre of sweet potatoes and intercropped with maize, and beans. We will have a surplus food for sale; my husband helps me in the garden too.
NVIWODA extended to us a one week residential training; we appreciate the opportunity given to us. The training met our farming specific needs and the hands on training have transformed the women to become modern farmers for sustainable livelihoods”. She concluded by appealing to the government to emulate the same, instead of organizing workshops at Sub –County’s offices.
The Project has a multiplier effect as Nakamya Annet, who coordinated with Science and agriculture teacher of Kabulasoke S.D.A Primary School, was able to transfer the knowledge to primary five pupils, by teaching them how to plant bananas. “I continue to share the knowledge with other women who did not have opportunity to participate in the project”, she remarked.