Hon. Rebecca Otengo – Minister of State for Northern Uganda – paid a visit to our Agricultural Livelihoods Recovery Programme (ALREP) “Improving Food Security and Agricultural Livelihoods of War Affected Communities” project in Agago. Hon. Otengo was accompanied by a delegation that included local government officials from various districts and other civil society organisations. The visit was hosted by farmers, members of Farmer Field School (FFS) groups, who benefited from the project.
The delegation was amazed by how the farmers were able to technically explain the various technologies, especially their study activities. There was clear evidence that the farmers had actually internalised the approaches, since each one of them wanted to explain part of the process. And when they did, they made no mistakes!
Hon. Otengo was so impressed that she bought all the egg plants the farmers had brought to the meeting.
The Farmers were able to explain to the delegation the whole concept of village saving and lending (VSL) and went ahead to explain how VSL activities have helped them. For example, one lady said she was able to borrow money to start up a fish business and as a result she has been able to buy six goats; she had come along with them to the meeting. Another lady shared that she borrowed and bought piglets.
Hon. Otengo was so impressed to the extent that she asked to join as a member of the VSL Scheme of Adong Ki Tic FFS.
She requested them to review their group constitution, so as to accommodate her since she will be paying in absentia, perhaps on a monthly basis.
The Minister gave UGX 250,000 to Adong Ki Tic FFS as a token of appreciation.
The farmers were able showcase various key food security crops that they are multiplying, including: cassava, beans and groundnuts. They were able show to the delegation the performance of the local cassava variety compared to the improved MH 97/2961. They also explained how the oxen had helped increase production, since they were able to open more land; although they sighted a challenge of 30 members against one pair of oxen.
This prompted The Minister to promise to donate an additional pair of oxen to the participating groups (four FFS).
Hon. Otengo was full of praise and thanked CPAR Uganda for the great work done. She advised all farmers to grow cassava, since cassava is a key food security crop. She added that in Alebtong District where she comes from, they passed a law that requires every home to have a cassava garden. That those without would get arrested, since they would be considered food insecure and would steal from other peoples’ gardens.
“It was one of my best experiences during my time here in Agago and I will always live to remember the day”Denis Ejus
This report was prepared by Denis Ejus on 7th May 2013, in his capacity as the CPAR Uganda Project Team Leader. ALREP is a Government of Uganda programme funded by the European Commission, CPAR Uganda implemented our project through United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO).