Give 35 families food security in Uganda

by Act4Africa
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda
Give 35 families food security in Uganda

Farmers in Mayuge district continue to employ poor agricultural methods. Planting low-quality grain, drying grain on bare ground, beating maize with sticks to get it off the cobs, storing grain with moisture content >13%, and mixing grain with ash to kill bugs are just a few of these procedures. This means that many households are at risk of consuming, or have already ingested, food contaminated with cancer-causing aflatoxins, whether stored at home or purchased at a market.

Furthermore, there is inadequate preparation for harvesting and a lack of understanding of appropriate storage procedures, which is the primary reason why farmers have consistently lost 30% of their produce. Pests are easily attracted to grain that is stored in conventional storage bags and containers (weevils and rats). Other farmers have stored their corn along the walls and on the floors, which collects water and causes mould to grow. Losses because of the aforementioned methods have left some families without food for consumption, resulting in malnutrition, particularly among children, and other morbidities, exacerbating farmers’ poverty.

What is Act 4 Africa doing?

Act 4 Africa's Grain for Growth initiative has put in place training to help farmers learn improved agronomy practices for a bumper harvest, increase knowledge on postharvest technologies and avail low-cost technologies to reduce grain loss. This will in the long run increase food security among beneficiary farmers and enable them to emerge from poverty. Act 4 Africa conducted a preharvest training on 25th and 26th May 2022 for 50 beneficiaries chosen in Lwabala village. These beneficiaries are parents and spouses of Act 4 Africa’s primary beneficiaries under the health and wellbeing project funded by UKAID’s Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) comprising 36 women and 14 men (72 % women, 28 % men). Act 4 Africa's program staff, who had previously received training in pre-and post-harvest handling of grain, led the training.

The objective of this training was to equip farmers with knowledge of the best agronomy practices which include pre-planting and planting activities for maize production, land preparation, fertilizer application, and weed management. Through the training, the following agronomy practices were emphasized.

  • Land preparation which involves the removal of tree stumps and termite mounds and ploughing.
  • Purchasing the recommended seed varieties (Hybrid seeds and open-pollinated varieties like Longe 9H, 10 H) among others. Those who store maize from the previous seasons were cautioned to always check the quality of grain before planting (avoid planting broken or disease-stricken kernels.)
  • Planting two seeds per hole, waiting for them to grow, followed by uprooting the weaker plant to allow room for the healthier plant to grow well.
  • Using appropriate spacing of (37cm by 35cm) for better yield.
  • Weeding at least three times (two weeks after planting, skipping a month, and any other appropriate time, or use chemical spray to minimize labour.
  • Applying fertilizer as a good practice that maintains soil fertility. In this, farmers learnt the commonly used fertilizers, when and how to apply them.
  •  Monitoring the farm regularly to remove diseased plants to avoid destroying the entire plantation and spraying regularly to kill pests.
  •  Farmers were advised to keep a proper record of when they plant so that they can Know the appropriate harvest time for their crops to avoid harvesting before due time.
  •  A4A team went further to teach farmers the requirements for harvesting which included tarpaulins and storage bags to minimize throwing maize on the ground which comprises the quality during harvest.

Due to demand from the participants to know about the best storage options, the team briefly demonstrated the use of the hermetic bags as one of the best options for storing grain. Following this demonstration, 20 farmers purchased hermetic bags in preparation for their harvest season.

Comments from participants.

I used to slash grass from my garden, burn it and then dig holes for planting. However, through this training, I have learnt that ploughing a depth of 20cm two weeks before planting will increase my yields and help me escape poverty. Thank you, Act 4 Africa, for enlightening me.

Next steps.

Act 4 Africa intends to do a follow-up on these beneficiaries to see their progress regarding the practices shared and provide support where necessary. Furthermore, Act 4 Africa will conduct comprehensive post-harvest training to discuss and demonstrate the best storage methods of using the storage silos and hermetic bags.

Thank you so much for supporting Act 4 Africa.

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Explaining the programme to husbands of farmers
Explaining the programme to husbands of farmers

At Act4Africa, we recognise how crucial good agricultural practices are in a country where most people live hand to mouth and a great majority of families rely on growing their own crops. Our Grains for Growth Programme trains small-holder farmers in post-harvest grain loss reduction. Using traditional harvesting and storage methods farmers in Uganda lose 30% of their crops to mould and pests. They also are at risk of aflatoxins which are colourless, tasteless, odourless mould spores that cause cancer. Our programme teaches farmers (most of whom are women) to harvest in a way that doesn’t break the grain kernal, and provides them the opportunity to buy low-cost hermetic storage containers. Using these, farmers reduce their grain loss to zero. With the “extra” 30% they have improved food security at household level but also have the opportunity for increased income as they can store the grain safely and sell grain when prices are high, rather than selling immediately at harvest time.

In December, the Act4Africa team in Mayuge, Uganda started community engagement sessions to educate participants on the harvesting and storage methods we recommend. Next, our team will demonstrate the effectiveness of the storage methods by borrowing a small amount of grain to store in hermetic bags. These bags will be opened in a ceremony in a few months time, and the grain we stored will be compared to grain stored in the traditional way. This demonstration will show why we are doing what we do! Farmers will see that their own grain, which they grew themselves, lasts longer using our storage methods.

On Monday 6th December a community engagement session was held, led by our team and Alex and Jen from our partner organization, Harvest Solutions. Alex is a Lusoga speaking trainer, then local dialect for Mayuge District, and Jen is a local woman who was a beneficiary of a previous Harvest Solutions intervention. Our team received great feed-back from participants, Jen in particular really motivated people to participate in the programme by sharing her own stories of success. Moving forward the plan is to hold engagement and information sharing sessions with 5 groups of 15 people each.

Alex of Harvest Solutions and Patrick Kigongo, General Manager of Act4Africa Uganda, have continued to discuss the various benefits of the two types of storage containers we offer to farmers – hermetic bags vs silos. Both options provide improved grain storage however the grain silos are larger and longer lasting (but also more expensive) while the hermetic bags are cheaper and are more appropriate fo farmers with very small plots. They are considering offering the opportunity for farmers to form groups to purchase a silo together, which would perhaps test their level of trust with their neighbors but could create an opportunity for them to access the superior storage technology which would otherwise be too expensive. Of course the farmers could still choose to buy the storage bags instead, and save up for a silo from selling the grain they save using the bags. 

 Our team are also seeing that gender-based violence is closely linked to agriculture in that female small-holder farmers often do all of the work of planting, harvesting, storing, and selling grain and yet their husbands control the proceeds and may even become violent if the women challenge this. Therefore training on how to address gener-based violence will be provided for the Act4Africa field officers to ensure our work is holistic and truly supports beneficiaries without causing unintentional harm.

Stay tuned for more updates from this amazing project! Thank you so much for supporting Act4Africa!

Demonstrating the best way to dry grain
Demonstrating the best way to dry grain
Demonstrating how to use the grain storage silo
Demonstrating how to use the grain storage silo

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20th Anniversary
20th Anniversary

Act4Africa is celebrating our 20th Year in November, and you are invited to celebrate with us! 

We would like to personally invite you to our virtual celebration on Saturday 20th November at 12pm GMT via Zoom. Our 20th celebration with a virtual tour of Uganda, will bring our community from across the world together to reflect and celebrate all we have achieved. We are excited to bring you something a little different this year, and we hope that you can join us. 

Through your generous giving you are helping to give young women and children access to a brighter future. Over the last 20 years Act4Africa has changed attitudes, transformed communities, and saved lives across East Africa. Over the last 20 years, we have:

  • Through Grains for Growth, we provided agriculture training for 35 small-holder farmers, increasing their ability to feed their families and earn an income
  • Provided quality early-years’ education to over 100 children
  • Trained over 600 healthcare workers and young people to teach others about gender equality and sexual health
  • Provided life skills, financial literacy and business enterprise skills to over 9000 disadvantaged women and girls
  • Supported 13 girls since 2018 to progress through higher education as part of our Grow A Girl programme
  • Provided almost two million people with HIV/AIDS and sexual health awareness training

We could not have delivered our projects without your support, which has given the greatest gift of all to the people of Uganda, the gift of a better life. We would love to celebrate with you on Saturday 20th November 12 at 12:00 GMT, if you can join us please RSVP by Monday 1st November via emailing nicole.robinson.edwards@act4africa.org

Looking forward to 2022

Great news! We are partnering with a fabulous organisation call Harvest Solutions to once again deliver Grains for Growth - an incredible programme which empowers small-holder farmers to harvest and store their grain effectively, protecting them from mould and pests. This simple training and intervention increases yeild by 30% enabling families living in poverty to earn an income through selling excess grain and enjoy food security even during difficult times. We plan to launch in April 2022 - watch this space for more updates.

Thank You For Supporting Our Work!

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“When the chimney smokes we send the children to school.”
These words, spoken to me by a Ugandan lady, puzzled me at first. I asked what she meant.
“It’s simple, we cannot afford to let our children go to school unless they get fed there. At least then we know they have some food in their belly. If there is no smoke from the school kitchen then there is no food being cooked for them. It is better that they stay at home to help with the digging. At least then we might have food tomorrow.”
 
That brought home very starkly to me that the children are hungry, they are last in the queue for food, their growth is stunted, their energy is sapped. They know they must help with the digging and fetching water, they do so gladly, but it would be good to let them learn to read and write as well and get them out of this cycle of poverty.
Subsistence farming is a hard way of life in Uganda - the plots are small and the yields are low. Poor storage of crops after harvest causes further loss due to infestation and contamination by dangerous fungi. This fragile food chain affects all, especially babies and young children.
Preparing School Dinner.
If their nutritional needs are not met, the growing child is at risk of irreversible growth stunting and poor neurological development. They are susceptible to infection and even death. The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically worsened this situation. 35 women farmers in the Mayuge district of Uganda have already taken part in Act4Africa's proven Grains for Growth programme and tell us they have benefitted from improved food security throughout the pandemic.
The women are shown new ways to check that the crop is dry enough for storage, it is then placed in reusable containers to prevent any deterioration. The loss of maize after harvest has reduced from 30-50% to virtually zero. The family then has a safe, secure supply of food for use or sell later in the year. A handful of grain may even used as part payment of school fees, meaning children are less likely to miss school. 
Uganda is currently experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 cases and has recently gone into total lockdown once again. This means millions more people will be pushed into extreme poverty, due to an inability to work, making the need for us to deliver this project even greater. 
 
Please Donate to support long-term improvements in food security today. 
£11 buys three heavy-duty airtight bags which will hold 100kg of grain each (enough for 365 meals) safe and secure from insect damage.
£16 will buy a tarpaulin drying sheet to prevent dangerous contamination of grain.

Report courtesy of Dr Jan Webb, British GP and member of the Act4Africa Grains for Growth team - the read her full report visit the Act4Africa Blog.

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My name is Asanti. I’m married and have 5 biological children and also stay with 3 step children of my husband’s other three wives.

I’m happy to have participated last year in the Grains for Growth programme.  The Act4Africa team trained us in best agronomy practice. One of the biggest positives that I attribute from the training, are the good harvests and surplus of food in my household, something that was not happening before I received the training. Before the training, my harvests were very low, I had nowhere to store my grain which exposed it to pest infestation, that on top of having to sell everything and leaving the family with hardly no food.  

The silo and information, I received, has won me a lot of admiration from my neighbors and as well brought me many friends that often come by to seek for advice, unlike in the past which used not to be case. Receiving a silo from Act4Africa has greatly helped me and my family because I am always assured of clean and safe storage for my grain.

I am in positon to store the surplus from my harvests, and have the rest sold. For example, I have recently been in position to start a poultry project, which I begun with from proceeds that I got from sale of my grain recently.

I would like Act4Africa to add us more agronomy trainings especially in modern methods of farming that will help us triple our yields. I use pesticides on my crops and for garden preparation before planting. I first spray for the grass to dry and later   I spray on the crop to control pests that destroy the crop at the early stages.

Unfortunately, these have come with side effects on our health, due to strength of the chemicals often used, and worse still is the fact that some people do not have or use protective gears. The chemicals have so much affected our land, which has as result led to it gradually losing its fertility. This has led to use of other alternatives like artificial fertilizers, which unfortunately happen to be very expensive.

I would be grateful to learn other methods of controlling pests without using chemicals if trained and I would later pass on the information to my neighbors.

Act4Africa are crowdfunding with GlobalGiving to Give another 35 families agricultural training and food security in Uganda. Thank you for your donation to our new appeal. Please share our project with anyone you think may be interested in supporting us. 

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Organization Information

Act4Africa

Location: Teddington, Middlesex - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ACT4AFRICA
Project Leader:
patrick kigongo
Altrincham, Cheshire United Kingdom
$5,395 raised of $10,500 goal
 
91 donations
$5,105 to go
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