Where We Work : Uganda : Agriculture, Livestock and Poultry
In Uganda, agriculture leads the economy, accounting for 50% of GDP, more than 90% of exports and 80% of employment. But the agriculture sector in Uganda has been stagnant, having missed the Green Revolution in the 1960s and lacking support for intensification and diversification. In 2008, BRAC launched its agriculture and livestock pilot project to begin addressing the problems of poor crop and livestock productivity in Uganda.
In 2009, we developed full-scale programmes in agriculture, livestock and poultry. Our programmes are increasing income for farmers and livestock rearers by helping boost productivity in core activities. This is directly helping women, because 77% of all women work in some form of agriculture. In rural areas this number climbs to 92% of women, compared with only 52% of men.
The agriculture, livestock and poultry programme addresses the problem of poor crop and livestock productivity in Uganda. Crops grown for domestic consumption include bananas, cassava, fruits, maize, rice, vegetables, roots and tubers - as well as other traditional varieties such as plantain, sweet potato, millet, sorghum, beans and ground nuts.
Ugandan agriculture remains heavily dependent on rainfall, with less than 1% of arable land under irrigation. Small holder farms account for 90% of all cattle - mainly the Ankole Longhorn breed – and nearly 100% of all sheep, goats and poultry. Our aim is to improve the efficiency and management of small to medium farm enterprises. The programme is designed to increase agricultural output, decrease livestock mortality, raise farm income and increase rural employment.
Specialist Programme Officers
Both components of the programme are coordinated at the branch level through dedicated Programme Officers. Each Programme Officer receives extensive training from specialist BRAC and government trainers on topics such as livestock and poultry rearing, improved farming practices, high-yield seed varieties and related technologies. They also attend an annual refresher course to keep their skills updated. Once trained, the Programme Officer's role is to train and supervise the Model Farmers/Agricultural Workers and the Poultry and Livestock Volunteers who are at the core of the programme.
Model Farmers/Agricultural Workers
The primary outreach agents for agriculture activities are the self-employed Model Farmers/Agricultural Workers. They specialise in crop production and promote good farming practices to others in their communities by turning their own small farms into demonstration model farms. They are required to have a minimum of two years agricultural experience and have farmed at least two acres of land. They must be willing to work with other low-income farmers in their community and supply them with quality inputs. The model farmers/agricultural workers are trained by BRAC's programme officers to offer technical assistance to various types of farmers:
- General farmers - These are farmers who operate on a small scale, less than one acre of land, and do not have to be BRAC members.
- Horticulture nurserers - These are farmers trained in how to set up a nursery and sell seedlings, such as ornamental plants, fruit trees and flowers.
- Vegetable and kitchen farmers - Kitchen farmers use very small pieces of land, or no land at all, farming from a bucket or sack. Vegetable farmers operate on one acre of land.
BRAC agriculture branch staff attend microfinance group meetings to identify Model Farmers/Agricultural Workers from among the women members. The local BRAC branch is responsible for screening and shortlisting candidates; the final selection is done by the area coordinators.
The Model Farmers/Agricultural Workers are then provided training for six days at the branch office. This covers farming techniques for specific crop varieties, focusing on the entire life cycle of the crop, starting from preparation of the land to harvesting. When their training is complete, the agricultural workers start identifying the small farmers living in their communities with the support of the branch staff. They assist the farmers on technical issues such as choice of varieties, improved seeds, crop spacing, rotation, intercropping, weeding, planting, fertilisation, pest control, post harvest management, utilisation of by-products, as well as integration of crop and livestock enterprises within the farm. They also sell improved seeds and other agricultural inputs.
Livestock and Poultry Volunteers
The livestock and poultry component also operates outreach activities through self-employed volunteers. These are women farmers (aged 25 to 35) experienced in poultry and livestock farming, who are selected from BRAC microfinance groups. After selection, they receive 12 days training in livestock husbandry, health issues and vaccinations. Training also includes the production and conservation of fodder crops. Once trained, they generate income by charging fees for their services. With help from BRAC, they offer vaccination services, sell veterinary medicines and give technical assistance to other microfinance group members and the wider farming community. They select and assist the following different types of poultry and livestock farmers:
- Model poultry farmers - These are farmers with more than 100 birds. They receive five days of training on rearing and management of egg laying hens and chicks. They are also trained on how to regularly vaccinate their birds.
- Key rearers - These are smaller scale poultry farmers, with 5 to 50 birds, who receive technical assistance from the model poultry rearers and volunteers.
- Poultry feed sellers - These farmers are oriented to manufacture quality feed to supply the BRAC livestock farmers.
- Model livestock rearers - These farmers have two to three cows. They receive five days training on milk cow rearing and management. All model livestock rearers receive technical support, such as treatments and vaccinations from the volunteers.
- Cow rearers (small scale) - These farmers have one cow.
- Sheep and goat rearers - These farmers have two or three animals.
- Fodder cultivators - These are growers of specialised crops used in animal feed. They receive assistance from the poultry and livestock volunteers to develop technical skills and in irrigation techniques.
Artificial Insemination Workers
To be chosen, these workers must have no other income, be ready to receive training on inseminating cows and go house to house to promote their service. They are selected by the BRAC branch office and trained for three weeks on how to run their own artificial insemination service as a franchise business. BRAC provides them with initial supplies and they operate at the village level to help produce calves that give higher milk yields. It is through this pyramid of entrepreneurial extension agents and structured supervision system that we can extend our services to thousands of people in Uganda.