BY DINU TEAM – In August 2020, Grace Akullo,45, was selected to work as a Community Development Promoter (CDP) by Building Resilience to Enhance Food and Nutrition Security, Income and Health in Northern Uganda (BRENU) team.
BRENU is a grant action implemented, under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program, by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partners in Lango and Teso sub-regions.
A nurse and mother of five, Akullo is a key agent for promoting productivity, markets and nutrition, and public health. She is the secretary of a 32-member Bedi-lworo farmer group in Okwongodul Sub-county in Dokolo District.
She also works as Community Development Facilitator and the CDP for a cluster of 10 groups within her community.
BRENU has trained her in village savings and loan associations (VSLA) methodology, financial literacy, collective marketing, and business development skills that have transformed her into a role model in the community.
She now advises her group and other cluster members on production, marketing, nutrition, and household incomes.
“Being a community development promoter has made me a role model and reference point for any production, markets, nutrition, and health information needs in the community,” says Akullo.
Akullo is a small-scale farmer engaged in growing maize, cassava, soybean, and sim-sim. “I have been growing cassava on a two-acre piece of land with an average yield of 250 kilograms per acre and earning an average price of Shs600 per kilogram of dried cassava sold,” she says.
The low yield, poor post-harvest handling techniques, and dismal earnings from cassava have kept her family in a vicious cycle of poverty yet her dream is to specialize in the value addition of cassava, soybean owing to their high market demand.
Engaging in sunflower production
At the age of 29, Hajara Firua owns an acre of sunflowers in Loloronga Village, Kuru Sub-county in Yumbe District. Sunflower plants are mainly used to make vegetable oil.
Her plantation is a result of the Livelihoods Enhancement in West Nile and Acholi (LEWA), a DINU grant action being implemented by the Lutheran World Federation and partners in Acholi and West Nile sub-regions.
The LEWA aims to increase diversified food production among smallholder farmers, increased market access for smallholder farmers and other value chains, and improved maternal, child health and nutrition.
As one of the women farmer groups selected to receive support from the action, Firua and colleagues have acquired knowledge and skills in modern farming practices, including crop production, postharvest handling, agro-processing, input sourcing, and market development.
“It was after LEWA training that I decided to put in practice all that I learned. Before, I never got such opportunities to invite agriculture extension workers to my field, “she says.
Firua adds: “I am now a popular person in the community and very confident since I became one of the trainers selected in Kuru Sub-county to train other groups on VSLA methodology and entrepreneurship skill development. I am also supporting five VSLA groups which are also producer’ groups within my area.”
She is renting one more acre of land and planted sunflowers where she expects to earn between Shs1,000,000 and Shs1,500,000 after the harvest.
“My husband is also pleased with me for this great idea, and we plan to work together, rent more land and plant sunflower plants next year,” she says.
Firua is an example of many women who have benefited from the DINU intervention in the area.
In Adjumani District, two women farmers’ groups with 58 members have adopted commercial farming. The Amacheruk and Palanyua Anyindrema groups are currently clearing a 10-acre piece of land where they plan to plant sunflower this season.
“The groups have chosen sunflower because of the ready market offered by Mukwano Industries Uganda Limited and the ability of the crop to adapt to adverse weather conditions like a prolonged dry spell,” says Ms Joyce Drania, the chairperson of Amacheruk Women Group.
The Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program, which was initiated in 2017 is a EUR150.63 million affirmative action program of the Government of Uganda and supported by the European Union designed to consolidate stability in Northern Uganda, eradicate poverty and under-nutrition and strengthen the foundations for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.
The program supports interventions in three specific interlinked sectors: (1) Food Security, Nutrition, and Livelihoods (2) Infrastructures (transport, logistics, water, energy), and (3) Good Governance.
OPM is responsible for the overall supervision of the DINU program in partnership with local governments and a wide range of stakeholders, including other implementing partners – Department for International Development (DFID)/Trademark East Africa, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
Other key implementing partners are nine grantees that are implementing various development projects under DINU in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso, and West Nile. These include CARITAS Switzerland, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (ITTA), National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), CARE-Denmark, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), ADOL Health Care Initiative and DIAKONIA-Sweden.