2030 is only 10 years away. If you love the Global Goals, what if you teamed up with us to create only one new solution that we can look at 10 years later and say, “it was wholly created by poor people, in a remote poor part of the world, and was a direct result of collaborations and partnerships in support of the SDGs”.
We are farmers who are determined to put an end to the cycle of poverty here in remote eastern Uganda.
We are very earnestly seeking collaborators who can work with us in person, or those who can only give us a voice, to help us create one new solution to poverty.
The goal of this page is to crowdsource collaborators.
Cross-cultural and/or cross-sector collaborations and partnerships of this kind are the true essence of Goal 17, and are the only way we can end poverty for good.
Help us become more productive, so we can then use our own hands to break the yoke of poverty by 2030.
Let’s Do Something:
In our region, everyone is a smallholder farmer, and nearly every smallholder farmer here lives in extreme poverty. But, in practice, the only thing that keeps us in poverty, is the absence of reliable markets for our produce. It is a systemic challenge across the region.
If we had access to markets, and a way of minimizing the food losses that arise from the absence of reliable markets for our produce, it would indeed be possible for us to turn into more productive citizens — who are capable of ending poverty in a self-sustaining manner.
We would like to team up with any global citizens who could simply amplify our voice through social media, or those who can directly work with us on the ground in Uganda, to help us create one new solution to this.
Please see “How You Can Help” at the very bottom.
And be sure to learn about our project, the UCF, here.
You might even want to see what 2 recent American visitors had to say about us, on their own blog, here.
The Intended Solution:
We would like to work with you to create a solution to two concurrent challenges that orchestrate poverty in our region. Those 2 challenges are: 1) the absence of reliable markets for fresh produce, and 2) food losses resulting from both the absence of ready markets for fresh produce, and poor post-harvest management.
That solution is: a fully fledged agro-processing plant that shall reverse poverty & create jobs in our region, by minimizing food losses and creating markets for rural poor farmers through value-added agriculture.
Setting up this plant will address SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), while the collaborative process that we are seeking to help us establish this plant is SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). And, as food loss in a poor region like ours means both a missed income and food insecurity, this plant will also contribute toward SDG 2 (Zero Hunger).
Through job creation, the plant will directly contribute towards SDG 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth). Lastly, by creating markets for more than one type of crop, this plant shall enable poor farmers to diversify and earn supplemental incomes from various crops.
We will develop this plant in small incremental steps, over a period of time — depending on the support we are able to raise. Therefore, every little support that we can raise will make a small incremental beginning.
For instance, once we only install a number of food dryers and a few accessories, that alone will help us work with many fellow poor farmers to produce the right quality of beer-making cassava & sorghum that we will then process & supply to local breweries, and will create high-value markets for many other crops.
The plant shall have 2 components:
Component #1: About 4 – 8 durable, greenhouse-type solar food dryers installed at our project, the UCF. These dryers, and their integral food processing utilities, will create markets for farmers in our region, and will help minimize post-harvest food losses, by adding value to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as crops like cassava, cereals, moringa, ginger & others.
A prototype of our intended greenhouse-type solar food dryers (seen below) was installed at our project, the UCF, in August – September 2018. This prototype measures 6mx7m, but has a small capacity of 100kg.
Our final 4 – 8 dryers will be 9mx27m each, and shall be installed by Serm Janjai of SolarLabSU.com (talks finalized), with materials from Covestro. Here below are a few 9mx27m dryers Serm has installed in Asia:
Component #2: A facility that turns fresh fruits into intermediate products for the food industry, putting to use the chunks of fruits that otherwise go to waste while people are in poverty, and linking rural farmers to high value markets they couldn’t access before — while ploughing the plant’s own incomes back into the community to support our work with fellow farmers.
To get started, our project (the UCF) will designate 4 acres of land specifically for raising large quantities of seedlings for passion fruits; pineapples; mango and others, all year round. These seedlings shall be given out to all the participating fellow farmers at no charge, along with whole grain seed for carrots and beets.
Farmers already have these fruits (disproportionately) and only lack a market. But the goal of giving out even more seed is to increase the scope of production, and to ensure that even the poorest farmers who have no inputs can participate equally, this time with a ready market. Products here will be passion fruit; pineapple; mango, carrot and beetroot purees & concentrates.
Here is what #2 will look like. Please don’t be petrified by this photo; we will develop our plant in small steps, per our capacity. This is just a replica of what we need:
What Makes Our Plant Unique?
Someone reading this page recently asked if this was another “corporate capitalist idea”. No, it isn’t. Rather, it is the kind of work SDG 9 calls for, not to mention it will be the very first such plant in our region, and is led by farmers who have lived in poverty for decades.
We are mere rural poor smallholder farmers, who are working together with many other poor smallholder farmers, and the absence of reliable markets for our produce is what keeps us in chronic poverty. It’s also a systemic challenge for farmers across our region.
Unlike traditional capitalist ventures, our plant will create markets for poor small farmers, and will use its own incomes to stem poverty in the remotest areas where nothing else is in place to end poverty. And it’s only natural that way. This will simply be a furtherance of the work we are already doing to support our fellow poor farmers in our region, on practically a $0 budget.
P.S. – for a few photos from our previous work with fellow poor smallholder farmers in our region, please see a presentation that we made before the UNDP Uganda Country Director, Ms. Almaz Gebru — and the entire UNDP Uganda team — back in 2017, in regard to the same plant that we are striving to establish.
Our project, the UCF, is already working with many fellow poor smallholder farmers. We support these farmers from the very first step of securing inputs (by providing them with initial seed & agronomic training). We thereafter look for viable markets for our produce through collective marketing — together with the produce that is being grown by ourselves at the UCF.
Setting up this plant will create reliable markets for our produce (cutting food losses, creating jobs and stemming poverty), and will enhance our capacity to work with many other poor farmers across a wider geographical area (providing them with seed, training and a market) in a self-sustaining way. The plant will also help farmers earn incomes from various crops.
Even more practically, crops like passion fruits, which mature only in months, and whose seedlings will be provided by the UCF to all interested farmers free of charge, along with a ready market at harvest, will be a guaranteed way of fast-tracking an exit from extreme poverty even for the poorest smallholder farmers.
Below are a few photos of local farmers the UCF works with. The first 3 were taken 2016 by Tracy, an American from RandomActs.org. The last two were taken 2018 by visitors Emily & Taylor from Northfield Mount Hermon School, Massachusetts. Photo #5 in the sequence, also taken by Emily & Taylor, is of the crops that are being grown by ourselves at the UCF.
Here are a few of the crops we have grown ourselves at the UCF since 2015 (all photos taken by ourselves):
A few international visitors who have physically been at the UCF and seen our work firsthand are: Taylor, Northfield Mount Hermon School, MA (visited 2018); Emily, Northfield Mount Hermon School, Cambridge MA (visited 2018); Neil, Fullwell Mill UK (visited 2018); Ken, Greater Impact Foundation (visited 2016); John, Anya, Claire, Josie, Poppy, Joanna & Alex — Edinburgh University (2016); Tracy, RandomActs.org (2016).
Ownership & Legal Structure:
Our project, the UCF, is itself a nonprofit social enterprise, and all the support that we provide to fellow poor farmers in our region (whether it’s seed, fertilizers or technical training) is free of charge.
To run our plant on the basis of freethought, and without subjecting our operations to the political bureaucracies that have plagued similar ventures here today, our plant will be directly managed by the UCF, with any incomes thereof being used to support our fellow farmers, and to maintain the plant itself.
If not, we are really open to any other ideas on this.
The UCF is located on 12 acres in a remote part of Kamuli, eastern Uganda. But, using incomes from the crops we are growing here ourselves, we were able to acquire (in 2017) another 3 acres approximately six kilometers from Kamuli Municipality. Component #2 above shall be installed on these 3 acres. The solar dryers, meanwhile, will be on our 12-acre premises.
Applicability to the Local Context:
Solar processing has lately emerged as an efficient way for small farmers to minimize food losses and produce value-added foods that capture high-value markets. Yet, for us, farming only means poverty. In the same way, Uganda mainly imports intermediate foods (purees & concentrates) from Kenya and South Africa, yet local potential already exists here. And so, this too is locally doable, and since we are ourselves the poor farmers who feel the pinch, we will do it.
Technical assistance for #2 will be provided to us by Partners in Food Solutions, and TechnoServe. Both are present in Uganda, and have connections within the food industry worldwide. For technical expertise on solar food drying, we already have ample training. Once we raise support, next thing is to orientate many other poor farmers on best practices, and to engage all the people needed in structuring our overall plan.
Our Biggest Motivation:
We are in a region where there are no markets, and rural poor smallholder farmers struggle the hardest.
This not only guarantees incomes below the poverty line, but also means, an already impoverished farmer can’t produce beyond a certain point, and can’t scale.
The UCF has piloted an array of crops, and we have a lot of banana being grown by ourselves today, but it is the same case with every crop you turn to. In 2016, we provided 336 fellow farmers with ginger rhizomes, with support from RandomActs.org. These farmers currently have tons of ginger rotting in the field (as of 2017-2018), and have no market for all other crops.
With fresh fruits, in particular, which are abundant in our region, a significant portion of them only goes to waste, while people are confined in extreme poverty.
How You Can Help:
We would like to team up with any global citizens who can work together with us in any of the 3 ways below:
1). amplify our voice by only sharing this website via social media, so we can recruit more collaborators.
2). team up with us on a GoFundMe, to help us raise support. Every little support will make a start. You may even help us raise support through your own means.
3). physically work together with us in person, to co-design our plant on the ground in Uganda — e.g. as a mechanical engineer, a food technologist, industrial designer, an unskilled casual laborer, or just a visitor.
As we will likely have one chance of raising support (considering how difficult this is for us), and because we need to align our plant to the food standards of reputable consumers, we’d like to raise $7m (budget breakdown here), to put our work on a solid footing.
Still, as mentioned earlier, every little support that we can raise will make a strategic incremental beginning. A fraction of that, for example, will get multiple solar dryers, and many of the needed accessories, in place.
Lastly, in case there is anything you read above that you feel needs to be revised, to make our work more impactful, or to make it a better fit for collaboration, please advise. Here, there are little or no alternative paths from poverty. We are therefore really open to any ideas that could help us create lasting change.
To learn about how the UCF began, please see our Founder’s story here, or learn more on our website.