Agriculture - Uganda
“The services of the SMART Centers give farmers direct access to all the agricultural inputs they need. At the same time, their agricultural skills are improved in order to generate income and secure their livelihoods. […] Work opportunities are provided for women as well as men and young people. The centers will promote the processing and packaging of agricultural products such as rice, cassava and maize and ultimately serve as a market center for their sale.” – Fred Mutenyo, Director of Uganda ForAfrica
The situation – Refugees from South Sudan and Congo
“With over 1.5 million refugees in the country, Uganda was still the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and the sixth largest host country worldwide in 2022.” (Source: UNHCR).
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan or Congo are forced to leave their homes due to violent conflicts. 80% of the refugees are women and children and many of them are fleeing to Uganda. Once there, however, they lack any basis for a life of independence.
Previous agricultural projects
Uganda ForAfrica therefore launched the first vegetable garden project in the Imvepi refugee camp in Uganda in 2017. The Palorinya camp was added later. In 2020, Uganda ForAfrica was appointed by the government and the UN organization UNHCR as the lead organization for food and livelihood security in the Imvepi camp.
The positive effects of our agricultural projects on the households involved are impressive: demonstrably improved health of the villagers due to the additional nutrients, strengthening of social cohesion between the refugees and even trauma recovery. Many of the participants are now able to support themselves, send their children to school and some have even been able to buy livestock and start their own businesses.
1×1 in vegetable growing
Our colleagues from Uganda ForAfrica, including trained agronomists, carry out the training courses on site. They train the participants in best practices for vegetable and grain cultivation and implement these together. Particular emphasis is placed on climate- and resource-friendly technologies. For example, how to create space-saving beds and keep moisture in the soil. Or how they can irrigate in the dry climate, for example by using waste water from washing and rinsing. Before the water is fed into the gardens, ash is added to neutralize the acid in the wastewater. Knowledge about different plants and their nutrients and active ingredients as well as tips on making compost and organic fertilizer are also taught.
We are now launching a pilot project that will improve and expand the existing projects.
The “SMART” project was developed in consultation with refugee and host communities, local NGOs and the local authorities.
On the one hand, the SMART project includes agricultural training as before, in which we train people and equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge. 70% of the participants will be refugees and 30% from the host community. In this way, we prevent conflicts and also stabilize the host community. Around 70 % of the participants will be women.
As part of the agricultural project, we will teach savings and investment principles and form savings groups through which small loans can be granted to participants. We will also be building two SMART Centers. These serve as training centers,
Knowledge transfer and access to technical support, resources, equipment, storage and market connections. Through the centers, we aim to provide project participants with advice beyond training on soil and crop protection using scientific methods, best agricultural practices, use of technologies in the agricultural sector to improve cultivation methods and raise awareness of market demand. The formation and networking of ten agricultural cooperatives that can grant loans to small farmers is also part of the project.
In return for the support they receive, the participants pay a small percentage of their profits back to the SMART Centers as growing entrepreneurs. As a result, they become self-sustaining and can help many more people from the community to become independent in the long term and promote healthy economic growth in the region.
The following goals are pursued with SMART:
- Increasing agricultural production and income through improved methods, post-harvest technologies and market access
- Application of environmentally friendly resource management to protect crops
- Access to affordable and sustainable financial products and services.
- Raise awareness of hostilities between refugees and host communities.
- Evaluation of lessons learned from the project as a basis for future initiatives, projects and strategies.
- With this project, we are also supporting the UN SustainableDevelopment Go als(SDGs) 1, 2, 3, 5 and 13.
“SMART is a brilliant catalyst for promoting self-reliance. Through self-sustaining local centers, we support entire communities in building productive agriculture and more jobs.”
Elias Koller, Managing Director Switzerland ForAfrica