Vegetable Agro Investment (VAI)
VAI is an innovative way to make business out of agriculture. Agriculture is one of the most affordable and easy ways to start business by refugee youth in Kyangwali settlement. Most of the valuable agricultural products (e.g. vegetables and fruits) are not produced within the settlement. They are imported from different parts of the country and the retail price is expensive. The project trains refugee youth to grow these high value products and sell them within and outside of settlement. This will increase members’ income and has positive impact on members’ economic situations and local economy. This supplements subsistence farming. This can be done in a small piece of land and produce valuable output.
Team and Partnership Formation
A team of 10 refugee youth members will come together, select a vegetable or fruit species of high value to grow and sell for income generation. This project will engage 10 groups (each consisting of 10 members) with this venture. The groups who will be working on this project are called Community Development Groups. P4T advocated for extra communal land from the Office of the Prime Minister and was given land for this project. OPM, refugee welfare councils, village leaders, religious leaders, Africa Action Help, American Refugee Committee, Finish Refugee Council, UNHCR support P4T and but only provide guidance to improve the project.
Research and Market Survey
The market demand for vegetables in Kyangwali is high. Over 64.8% of all vegetables sold in the settlement alone are imported from neighbouring communities and even other districts (P4T market survey, 2014). P4T concluded that taking advantage of this market would improve the socio-economic status of refugee youth through enhanced livelihood.
The climate and weather in Uganda is capable of making Uganda a food basket for the entire Africa (Mwiine, 2010). The soil in Kyangwali is so fertile that it has supported refugees’ agriculture since 1996 due to its history as a de-gazetted forest reserve. Refugees have not taken advantage of this wonderful gift to generate income.
VAI has proven ability of producing the best yield and totally changing the mindset of people towards farming as well as their socio-economic wellbeing. A demonstration farm for cabbages and tomatoes implemented by P4T in 2014 produced high yields and attracted attention of many stakeholders and entire refugees’ community.
Use of irrigation to water vegetable farms to allow production all year round will be used.
Use of organic manure to enhance/improve yield and conserve the biodiversity.
(Plan for value chain development) The project will provide a land mark for an agro-processing industry such as tomato paste/sauce making and juice making among others.
VAI unlike other innovations does not seek to bring in new activity to be adopted (This may easily be ignored or community may get reluctant to adopt) but rather seeks to build capacity of the community to practice their activity in the most beneficial way without abandoning their previous engagements.
Leadership and life skills
Every group of 10 youth has got leadership structure consisting of chairperson, secretary, treasurer, mobiliser and advisor. These executive members need to be engaged in leadership workshops and seminars to equip them with the necessary leadership and group management capabilities.
The groups will be given life skills in vegetable growing such as species selection, nursery bed preparation and management, pest management, harvest, value chain, proper storage and marketing. The members are also encouraged to use the acquired skills and experience in their families so as to improve personal and household income.
VAI will also improve agricultural productivity practices through demonstration gardens so that even those refugees who are not in the 10 groups can equally.