Babra Akello works with African Revival as part of our Community Empowerment team in Uganda. She spends a lot of time in the field with parents involved with our School Demonstration Gardens (SDGs). SDGs offer agricultural training to parents of children at local primary schools. This improves the relationships between parents and the school, as well as their children’s academic attendance and attainment. Many parents also apply the skills they have learnt to their household farming. Babra plays a key role in training SDG group members in agricultural skills and marketing processes in order for the group to successfully turn a profit. Sophie Hicks, one of our field officers, recently caught up with Barbra and the SDG group at Lujoro Primary School to hear how they are getting on as we approach the New Year.
Following their initial research into various crop types, the group decided which crops they felt were best for their School Demonstration Garden. After planting, and tending to their crops, the group members harvested what they’d grown and began the post-harvest handling process before taking their produce to market. Babra describes how the process differs for each crop;
“The marketing process varies from individual enterprises to the other because there are crops that are majorly sold when they are fresh, but there are crops that are sold maybe when they are dried, or maybe with something added to it. The stages in post-harvest handling include harvesting, transportation, drying, cleaning, sorting, bagging… attaching a price… and now awaiting transportation to the market.”
“We ensure that the marketing committees together with myself, we do our market research, to see in these products that we are having, how is the price, how are other people tagging the prices to these same products. How best can we out-do them with the same products in the market. Then the products are transported to the market… sometime they use [a] bicycle, sometimes they carry it on their heads, sometimes they use a motorcycle to transport their products to the market, but ensuring that during that [during] transportation the quality of our products is not compromised.”
On Monday 7th of December 2015, the Lujoro SDG marketing committee took in a total of 160,000 Ugandan Shillings, which equates to just over £30 GBP. Popular products on market day include onions and garden peas. There are regular market days in the local and surrounding districts, and with two harvest seasons a year, the group is kept very busy!
The profits of the group are divided up into three sections at the end of each year. 30% goes directly to Lujoro Primary School for the Head Teacher, school management, teachers and the PTA to decide what to spend the money on. Often it is for put towards building new latrines or buying new furniture for the school. 30% goes back into the SDG group account so that the garden can keep going the following year, with savings to buy more seeds for example. Finally, the remaining 40% is divided up between the group members, depending on their attendance at the garden throughout the year.
Each member set savings goals at the start of the project to prioritise what their profits from the SDG would go towards. Most members included paying their children’s school fees as a top priority. Bosco, part of the marketing team within the Lujoro SDG explains; “I used part of the money to buy two pigs. So I am keeping pigs. And also part of the money I used to pay the exam fees for the children. However some part I brought it back for saving”.
Not only does being a part of the School Demonstration Garden enable parents to pay school fees on time, but it also benefits their children, as Pamela, a group member describes; “my presence in the school actually makes my children come and concentrate in class. Because they know at least every Tuesday Mama is around school so they don’t need to joke with studies”.
Both Pamela and Bosco have started using the agricultural techniques they learnt at Lujoro SDG in their gardens at home. Bosco says he has even; “trained the wife, and now if I’m not at home my wife can apply the knowledge”.
As 2015 comes to an end, Pamela reflects upon being a part of Lujoro’s SDG; “Being part of the group has really benefited me because people come and buy fresh vegetables from my home… on a daily basis. And now when I have these things at my home, as people come to buy, I save that money. So in case any sickness happens, I have something for transport, I have something for medical bills and the rest of it. So all this is attributed to me being part of this group… I enjoy the unity that exists among the group members… My new year’s resolution is to diversify my enterprises, and also, to be a good time keeper”.
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