At Ripple Effect, we want to nurture the entrepreneurial ambition that we so often see. Although farmers’ earnings are now above the poverty line, their income is still low which means they are very vulnerable to changing circumstances. Climate crisis is disrupting the traditional indicators of the right time to plant seeds, and often planting is followed by too little or too much rain, causing crops to fail.
In our programmes we work alongside farmers to understand the potential markets in their area, and we bring community groups together to form a plan.
In Kamuli, the groups identified an opportunity to grow soya beans for both grain and seed. Working alongside our enterprise experts, they explored more than 20 ways in which value can be added to soya – such as making soya milk, livestock feeds, and mixing with cassava flour and oil to make the popular snack bagiya.
Once they are earning enough to invest, they will be able to collectively buy the technology they need to take their enterprises further, such as connecting to electricity and accessing refrigeration. And by working as a co-operative they can sell their produce in bulk to access larger markets and earn higher prices.
Enterprise development is crucial to ensuring that farmers thrive, and don’t just survive. But we are directed by one overriding principle.
When working with farmers like those in Kamuli we must ensure that enterprise doesn’t come at the expense of family nutrition. The temptation may be to produce cash crops such as sugarcane and coffee, but if they offer no direct nutritional benefit to the growers their families will be vulnerable to climate and market fluctuations.