The Koilei Amora Ican Animal Traction Project
The Koilie Amora Ican Farmers Group came together in 2005 as a community-based organisation with the aim of improving food security and the economic well-being of households in Ngora County in eastern Uganda. Starting off with 22 members the group has now grown to over 400 members . These farmers are arable farmers growing crops such as maize, millet, sorghum, cassava and groundnuts. When the group was set up farming depended on traditional methods such as the use of hand hoes to till the land. This resulted in a low acreage under crops as it took up to two weeks for a family group to dig an acre. This type of subsistence farming didn’t generate enough food for their own needs and no surplus was produced to generate an income for the family’s needs. Animal traction was identified as a key intervention in increasing the productivity of these farmers so in 2005 they approached VIVA’s partner in Uganda, Heifer International, seeking assistance. Following an appraisal of the project VIVA committed €120,000 to the project (which included a grant of €80,000 from Irish Aid).
The farmers were divided into groups of 4 for the project implementation with each farmer receiving an ox and the group sharing a plough. Each farmer receives extensive training on caring for the ox and has to build a zero-grazing unit for the animal and plant fodder grasses to feed the ox. So far 276 oxen and 69 ploughs have been distributed.
The project has been a huge success with household food production having tripled. As a result over 400 families are now food secure and can afford two balanced meals a day. This is mainly due to increased acreages being planted and, even more importantly, timely planting due to the ready availability of the oxen and ploughs. The sale of surplus produce has generated cash incomes which have helped to pay school fees, allowed farmers buy more land or diversify into other activities.
After two years farmers have to buy (from income generated by surpluses they produce) an ox or plough for a new member of the group. This is called “Passing on the Gift” and it ensures the on-going continuity of the project. In this manner, yesterday’s “recipient” becomes tomorrow’s “donor”. 66 families have received oxen and ploughs in this manner.
The status of women in the community has greatly improved. Half the beneficiaries are women and the economic independence this has brought has given them a new status in the community. In fact, women make up half the executive committee that run the project.
In the next phase of the project (2012 – 2015) the emphasis will be on helping these farmers with post-harvest handling and marketing of their produce in addition to climate change adaptation strategies. VIVA has secured a grant of €250,000 from Irish Aid for this project and will match this with €150,000 of its own funding.