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Helping Africa to help itself: the Uganda Community Farm

The answer to Africa’s extreme poverty could be Africa itself, if a new agricultural initiative lives up to its expectations.

The Uganda Community Organic Farm (UCOF) aims to become a model farm, based on Community Supported Agriculture principles, that the rest of Africa can follow. Pursuing a comprehensive agricultural program, it intends to define a precedent for Africa’s rural poor to tread their own path towards sustainable social and environmental change.

Organic Perspectives, a Ugandan non-profit organisation, is behind the project, which has just launched a $80,000 crowdfunding appeal through the Indiegogo website (http://igg.me/at/uganda-farm). Founder Anthony Kalulu hopes the farm will help rural smallholder farmers embrace a self-help effort away from extreme poverty.

“This is about sustainable change for Africa’s rural poor,” says Anthony. “We want to encourage them to act for themselves, to do things for themselves, and to hold the plough of change with their own hands through learning and applying entrepreneurial skills.”

The farm plans to train local farmers on organic horticulture systems that have faster/high returns, and to help the farmers access stable and collaborative organic marketing channels – particularly through a practice of Community Supported Agriculture – which the group says will be the first concept of its kind on the continent.

“By providing smallholder farmers with a practical organic farming learning centre, based on low-input, sustainable practices, we can provide these communities with the ability to feed themselves, rather than relying on perpetual handout programs.”

“What’s more UCOF, and farms following the same principles, will be able to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by generating and supplying a high-value collective market for their organic produce.

“These funds will be able to fund local development projects in the same local communities,” says Anthony.

The plan is to acquire between 20 and 40ha of land on the shores of Lake Kyoga, in the Kamuli or Buyende regions, and to assemble the necessary tools and materials to establish the programme.

“We’ve a number of ‘perks’ to offer donors and supporters,” says Anthony, “including any produce from the farm that can be delivered internationally, and sponsored gifts of produce, farm membership and woodstoves to local households.

“But it’s not just funds we’re after,” Antony says. “We’ll welcome both short and long-term visitors to the farm itself, to share with us their farming experiences and insights, and to help us develop the whole farm’s working framework and long-term strategy.”

Organic Perspectives has been around since 2007, striving to improve rural smallholder farmers’ livelihoods through community forestry, alternative household energy and organic farming.

A relatively new idea, The Uganda Community Farm is part of Organic Perspective’s wider campaign “Sustainability for Africa” (http://www.sustainabilityforafrica.org/). It draws upon their in-house organic farming experience to catalyze their vision for a self-sufficient African citizen’s sector.

by S. C.
09 december 2013, World News > Africa

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