23/06/2020 - PfR-supported farmers in Uganda better cope during lockdown period
Story by Ogwang David Omega, Advocacy Coordinator CARE Uganda. Picture: CARE Uganda
Uganda’s lockdown is hurting its crucial farming sector except a few categories of farmers. Model farmers trained by Partners for Resilience are seemingly not badly affected.
For some farmers in Otuke District, business is un-usual. They are unable to tap normally to the rich weather in this first planting season due to lack of preparedness. The local farmers were hoping for the usual trend of events to prevail. Little did they know, that lockdown meant no public gatherings, social distancing, and no movement of public vehicles. The huge dependency on the make-shift markets for goods and services is a big blow to the rural community in Otuke district.
At least 30 model farmers in Otuke distruct were trained by Partners for Resilience. They have a variety of cereals being planted. Some of them have raised nursery beds for vegetables and started transplanting between April 19, 2020 and start of May 2020. This is what they term as an adaptive measure and forward looking.
“I have been hearing about disaster preparedness and resilience from CARE International in Uganda during several trainings. I thought that it was a foreign occurrence: until COVID-19 struck I fully understood the meaning of disaster preparedness’, added Patrick. Furthermore he explains that those farmers trained by development partners like CARE and government should use the new knowledge and skills they have acquired to survive during this period. “During this lockdown, I ride a motorcycle bought last year, after selling beans, up to Acholi and Karamoja sub regions to sell and supply okra. For the last one month, I have fetched Shs2.3 million from okra and honey, and I expect to earn more than Shs30 million this year.”
‘Farmers, who were trained and facilitated to adapt and practice Climate Smart Agriculture in Otuke District have coped better with the present crisis due to COVID-19, due to a high level of preparedness, diversified sources of income and growing of fast maturing crops like Okra,’ said the District Agricultural Officer of Otuke District, Mr. Ocen Bonny.
Unlike other farmers in my areas, whose families were surviving on one meal a day during the COVID-19 lock-down, I sold seven pairs of guinea fowl, each pair at 22 dollars (75,900 Uganda shillings) and raised 154 dollars in April 2020 and stocked cereals for home consumption and planting during the first rain,’ says Mr. Oyaro Benson, another model farmer trained by CARE International in Uganda.
Today, Patrick Okello is enjoying a bumper harvest of okra he planted near his home in a 5 acres piece of land. The 38-year-old, has a 20-acre farm in Alutkot Village in Otuke District where he grows varieties of fast growing crops, for sale and home consumption. Patrick advises farmers to be better prepared for possible disasters.
“Whether the lock-down continues or not, I am better prepared to cope with any eventualities, thanks to CARE International in Uganda through the Partners for Resilience programme. The challenge though is that COVID-19 has pushed a large number of communities to critical levels of vulnerability. Many people have not planted crops due to lack of seeds. Famine is looming ahead”, say Patrick Okello and Oyaro Benson.