“The challenge is huge but the solution may be small-very small.”
Placing small family farms at the centre of the food system; An equitable,Diverse and Healthy Future.
A farmer using a hand hoe, the commonest tilling tool on small family farms in Uganda.
A farmer tends to her Backyard livestock farm.
A family harvesting maize on their small farm
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Jojus logistics LLC
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Iungo Capital | Patasente |Angels Inititativea| Shona |
Kamuli Farmers Group | Mbale Farmers Group | Kibaale Farmers Group | Uganda National Chamber of Commerce And Industry |Uganda Grain Council | Uganda Revenue Authority | Ministry of Agriculture,Animal Industry And Fisheries | Ministry Of Trade and Cooperatives | Kamuli District Local Government |
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Kamuli is the land of my birth,and of my father and his father before him.
I have not lived there consistently since I was a little boy of four, but my first memories of life are of the little village of Bugulumbya where I was born.
The chattering of the birds nestled in the big Muvule tree behind our humble house still rings in my mind,the evening mooing of the retiring herds and the sounds of night crickets is still the most reassuring sound in my mind,albeit from a distant loving time.
The sipping and dribbling waters of the stream in the valley at the boundaries of our land which was the sole source of fresh water for all the salt of the earth of my village.
The sun’s morning rays do not romance the skin softly anymore like it did in my childhood in,it is now unforgiving and scathing.
The fields do not blossom and smile back with color like they did when we played and run about them,they are now wretched and laid to waste.
The foods does not melt in the mouth the same like what my lovely departed grandmother,Ediisa, cooked in her simple backyard kitchen,it is now without flavor and taste.
The people do not toil together in the fields in the wee hours of the morning, they instead solemnly trek to the new sugarcane factory to eke a living.
I miss Kamuli,even when Kamuli still exists,but I long for the simple old days when my little world was green and natural and even the humans seemed happier and more fulfilled on their lands.
I want my childhood world back,for my children and their children after them.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
location of Kamuli on the map of Uganda.
Fishing on the river Nile,on the western flanks of the district.
Kamuli Food market
Kamuli Sugar Factory,the biggest factory complex in the district.
Named the Pearl of Africa in 1908 by Sir Winston Churchill because of its beauty and splendor,Uganda is a former British protectorate located in the EastAfrican region.
Located in the zone where the East African Savannah and the West African rainforests overlap,Uganda boasts myriad breath taking sights,with mountain gorillas,over five national parks,the snow capped Rwenzori Mountain and Africa’s largest fresh water lake.
The Ugandan people still identify proudly by their ancient tribal Kingdoms that make up the country.The biggest,the over 700 years old Buganda kingdom is home to the most populous tribe,the Baganda and also,Uganda’s capital and largest city,Kampala.
The original seven hills on which the nucleus of the city was built are crowned with some of Uganda’s most iconic sites.Mengo Hill forexample,hosts the majestic Twekobe,official palace of the Kabaka of Buganda.
Whereas Tourism is Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earner,agriculture is the largest employer with about 68% of the population engaged in the sector.
Kamuli district, lies about 200 km from the capital in the eastern part of Uganda is defined by flat land scapes with some gentle undulating hills. It is part of the Kingdom of Busoga, led by a rotationally elected Chief called the Kyabazinga.
The district experiences a bimodal type of rainfall with the main season extending from March to May and the second during the months of August through October.
The world's longest river,the Nile snakes its way on the district's western border,and together with lake Kyoga to the north,is a major source of fresh water and fish for the neighboring communities.
The district is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural although the predominant ethnic group is the Basoga,comprising 76% of the district population.70% of the people live in rural areas,compared to the national average of 3.2%.
The Basoga people are largely largely subsistence smallholder farmers.A typical homestead is set up on a smallholder farm( less than one hectare)with a brick house household,garden for subsistence cultivation and livestock.The average family is predominantly male-headed with at-least five (5) persons living in the household.
Households are majorly engaged in growing food crops,with grains and cereals;Maize and beans dominating.However,production of these staple food crops is fast dropping (at annual rate of 3%) as farmers opt for sugarcane growing,creating a food security risk.
Largely a rural,poor and socialized along patrilocal lines,Kamuli is a microsom of the typical Ugandan community outside the capital, Kampala.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Developing an inclusive, coherent and effective national food policy. A number of stakeholders at national and sub national level engage in the sector. There is duplicity of stakeholders has created a gap between policy formulation and actual implementation and yet small farms are heavily reliant on favorable government policies. By 2050,government priority for mechanized and industrial agriculture as the path to economic development may have squeezed out small family farms.
Mitigating against Climate change,conserving the natural resource base.Fast growing population levels are placing pressure on land,with intensified agricultural activities leading to minerals depletion and degradation of biodiversity hotspots like swamps.By 2050,there is a projected emergence of growing scarcities of natural resources.Kamuli is already facing a problem of floods attributed to effects of climate change.
Addressing hunger and malnutrition.Urbanization is rapidly changing the demographics.The youth are migrating to urban areas in search of off farm off employment opportunities.The sugar cane factory in And its plantations are attracting many youth to provide wage labor.Abandoning food production in the villages to an aging labor force will slow economic growth and place more burdens on the health care system.By 2050,more than two-thirds of the global population may be living in urban areas (UN,2015).This will impact dietary and consumption patterns.New food trends and tastes with an element of convenience, time- or cost-saving like fast foods are emerging.Typically these foods are higher in salt,sugar and fat,and are driving up incidences of Non- Communicable Diseases.
Improving farm productivity which is low due to a variety of reasons,mainly;Poor seeds varieties and price fluctuations.To meet demand in 2050,agriculture will have to produce 50 percent more food,feeds and biofuel than it did in 2012 (FAO).Improving productivity through Climate-Smart and Resource conserving technologies and innovations is yet to catch on because adoption is still new due conservative attitudes,low levels of education etc.
Combating Poverty and inequality.Poverty in Uganda is disproportionately concentrated in rural areas,with Busoga sub-region ranked the poores.This is reflected in a wide range of social-economic Indicators like child malnutrition,where Busoga ranks lowest.Gender inequality is still rife within agriculture in Kamuli,driven by the dominant patrilocal traditions of the Basoga people.Women face barriers in accessing resources like land,and are the poorer gender.
Financing rural agriculture.To improve productivity of family farms and strengthen the rural economy,enabling better access to financial services;savings,credit,investment,insurance is Key.Estimates show an investment requirement of Atleast $80 billion by 2050 to feed 9 billion people.However,there’s still a big gap in meeting this financing need,majorly because high risks involved in family agriculture and weakness of guarantee systems.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Support youth to ensure survival of the family farm into the future.Youth are the future and therefore key to a sustainable food system by 2050.Easing access to finance,education,land and other natural resources for the youth.Creating linkages between agriculture and other new trades,thereby creating a rural-urban continuum.
Building a climate resilient family farming centered food system to mitigate against effects of climate change.This can be done by enabling their capacity for innovation and bespoke and localized technological solutions through education,Farmer exchanges,training with a special focus on women and youth.
Empowering the grassroots farmer organizations to reinforce their representative ability by extending participatory technical assistance and capabilities.Improve their negotiation capabilities with organizations and businesses.Building an inclusive,fair and transparent working formula for the organizations.
Fostering political,socio-economic inclusion and prosperity of the smallholder farmers,their communities and rural economies by easing access to public goods and services like education and health services.Protect vulnerable rural groups ownership rights (especially women,indigenous people and youth) over land and other natural resources like forests.Improve workings of markets and value chains for inclusive access to output, input, and financial services to overcome market failures,including creating environments for fair trade between family farmers and agribusiness and democratic control over markets
Develop and implement a family family centered national and sub-national coherent policy by mobilizing political commitment and optimal resources by state and non-state actors.Advocate for local and international support for family farming.Channel investment to agricultural research focusing on family farmers while also creating creating a participatory approach for them in research undertakings.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Growth in farm incomes due to improvement in productivity.This will reduce household poverty and have a multiplier effect on the rural economy with an increase in spending.More incomes,wealthier,happier people.
Food and nutritional security will be enhanced,meaning healthier people and improved livelihood.This has a positive cyclical effect on the productivity of the people,enhancing economic growth.
Prosperity of the small farms would provide gainful employment to the people,checking demographic shifts like rural-urban migration.The youth would be attracted to agriculture,reinforcing it within productive labor.
Regeneration of natural resources within the ecosystem would make the food system sustainable for the future.There would be less GHG emssions,less degradation of soil and optimal utilization of water resources.
An equitable and fairer social dispensation will replace the exploitative system which excludes the vulnerable like women.Narrowing the gender gap would increase productivity of women,empowering them economically.
Improvement in the human capital through education and training will increase adoption of innovation and technology which is key in increasing farm productivity and combating climate change.
Preservation of generations old culture that is a part of the people’s life would improve their dignity and self worth.Respecting their traditional environmental conservation methods on the farm and their dietary habits is key to continuity and survival of society.
An inclusive policy centered on small farms will go a long way in connecting rural economies to the national economy from which they are now largely detached.This is key to trickling down national services like health centers and roads to the rural communities.
Kamuli will be a hub of efficient and productive family farms working within a values based supply chain that is inclusive,Democratic and people centered.It will be a national model for impactful small farm interventions.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Members of Kamuli farmers group Load sacks of food for export at their community warehouse.
Women member of Kamuli farmers group bag beans for storage.
Members of the Mbale farmers group hand pick beans at their local warehouse
The author (first from right) and colleagues meeting the leadership of Kamuli Farmers group.
Placing small family farms at the centre of the food system; An equitable,Diverse and Healthy Future.
Local and global economic analysts have predicted and advocated for the demise of and/or consolidation of the small family farm into larger industrial agricultural entities,apparently as a requirement for economic development.
The Ugandan government national policy for agriculture is premised on mechanization,commercialization and modernization.The argument goes,that small family farms are a relic of the past,backward,inefficient and unproductive and are an impediment to economic development.
Consequently,our current food systems are increasingly controlled by large size private entities with oligopolistic over the supply chains;from the production to consumption.Whereas industrial agriculture has arguably increased productivity in the sector,It is reliant on non-renewable fossil energy,chemically-dependent monoculture cropping systems,and large-scale confinement animal feeding operations.
This has resulted into a spate of several negative environmental,social and economic externalities such as degraded soils, polluted streams and groundwater,depleted streams and aquifers, and the growing threat of climate change,which calls into question the sustainability of the current system.In Kamuli,exemplifying and embodying this is the Kamuli Sugar Factory,which has benefited from government subsidies and free land to establish its expansive plantations.
The price for this is more often borne by the small farms whose insecure land holding rights are increasingly under threat from politically powerful actors within the sugar supply chain desperate to expand their plantations and attract cheap labor.This restructuring of the local economy is gradually leading to a de-agrarianisation,land abandonment and depopulation of the vital food crops oriented small family farms.
Small farms play an important role in supporting rural employment and maintaining the social fabric of rural areas and therefore, as stated by Breustedt and Glauben,”the declining number of farms not only has consequences for the agricultural sector but also for rural areas as a whole. The loss of farms might lead to a depopulation of the countryside which in turn affects the demand of services and infrastructure of local communities”.In addition,the emerging cash crop centered Industrial agricultural systems are a threat to the food security,with women and children most exposed.The low wages paid out to mostly male dominated labor fare minimal to sustain the average family.
De Schutter paints a gloomy picture of what is in stock for Kamuli, “measured against the requirement that they should contribute to the realization of the right to food, the food systems we have inherited from the twentieth century have failed from economic,social and environmental point of view.”
The future requires an alternative.There is a realization that beyond commercial benefits,the current extractive system cannot meet the challenges facing today and tomorrow’s food system,locally and globally.In fact,the current system will only exacerbate these challenges.
The industrial agriculture juggernaut will have to be brought to a halt and if need be,dismantled altogether Already.The momentum for this is already in place,through revolutionary movements like the Organic Foods Industry.The confluence of challenges,demands and pressures facing the food system in its current form will continue to overwhelm it unless an alternative is found.
What is the ideal and most viable food system for the future?What model best suits a place like Kamuli that is largely a rural economy with a predominant subsistence livelihood? What system meets the today’s challenges and is sustainable for the future?
It is a system centered around the small Family Farm.
In sub-Saharan Africa where increase in global population will mostly occur,where more than a third of the land is composed of smallholder agriculture and more than 60 percent of the population employed therein,smallholder farms will attain even more importance in the development equation.Policies will have to prioritize how to make smallholders more productive and how to foster growth of the rural economy.Innovative approaches will have to be found to accommodate the small farmer.Research and Funding will be redirected towards making the small family farm viable.Education and training services will be extended to the small farmers to equip them within market information and skills.Small farmer Technological innovations will be designed in a bottoms up approach to improve on efficiency and productivity of the small farms.
Community based food hubs,at local and regional level will be the link between the small farms and globalized economy.All supply chain activities will take place within this community;the production(farming),the value addition (processing,packaging,branding),the distribution and consumption.The community may be built horizontally,for example binding farmers groups or vertically along the supply chain.With adoption of Information Technology,the community may expand into an e-community integrating rural farming entities to urban-based entities who are part of the value chain,for example Logistics companies or even open up e-markets to link to consumers.This will create shorter food supply chains and eliminate the tyranny of the middle-man currently facing the small farms..These hubs will be designed to enhance sustainable development of the community for all stakeholders.They will also foster “distributive” Justice along the chain by balancing the share of power between the stakeholders through a bottoms-Up participatory and inclusive decision making processes.
Some of the myths surrounding family agriculture,especially on its productivity and efficiency vis-à-vis industrial agriculture,will be debunked and discarded,giving the small family farm its rightful place as the most viable farming model.Peter Rossett,from the institute of Food and Development policy explains:, “we've reviewed the data from every country for which it's available, comparing the productivity of smaller farms versus larger farms. By productivity, I mean the total output of agricultural products per unit area -- per acre or hectare.For every country for which data is available, smaller farms are anywhere from 200 to 1,000 percent more productive per unit area.” This means the family farm is a viable economic model.Doubling of production on small farms which currently employ 70 percent of the global population will allow them support a 70 percent increase in global population,even without further increase in production from industrial farms-Which is enough to meet the basic goal food needs by 2050.Food security will be met through supporting small farms.
Social considerations will be met by small farmers who are more attached to the land,beyond the mono-functionality of economic efficiency of industrial farms.The farm is not just be a production unit to the family,it is also home and family farmers will manage their farms in a conscious and purposeful way to sustain and regenerate the soil,carbon sequestration and other valuable natural resources.The motivation for this is that the social and ecological consequences of their operations are inseparable from the well-being of their families and homes.Therefore,family farms will adopt sustainable approaches that rely upon intricate knowledge of the farmland and local ecosystems; agroecology, organic agriculture and permaculture, for example, are all sustainable approaches that favour relatively small-scale family farms.Agriculture will therefore transform from being a leading source of greenhouse gases to an important carbon sink,from a leading consumer and polluter off water to a key contributor to healthy watersheds and reliable water supplies and from a leading consumer of fossil fuels to a producer of renewable energy.This will go a long way in combating the effects of climate change.
Small farms are the stewards of biodiversity conservation.Reserach shows an inverse farm size -Varietal relationship.Biodiversity will thrive with a through sustainable and regenerative farming practices,enhancing food,nutritional and dietary security.Small farmers often choose to cultivate different seed varieties of the same crop,with different farmers in the same locality cultivating different varieties.Most importantly,small farmers are the repositories and the small farms reservoirs of centuries of cultural and farming knowledge,a product of of which will help sustain agricultural biodiversity for generations.
The connection family farmers have on their farm will foster the “moral economy” of our food system,in addition to the “commercial economy.” Equitable growth,employment and equality in agriculture will be possible through inclusion of small farmers.Since family is connected to the community,relationships,will be closer and personal,cooperation will replace competition.Localized values based food hubs will replace the extractive Industrial food supply chains.There will be a multiplier effect of family- farm generated growth on the local rural economy.There will be more rural schools,health centers,jobs and the people will be healthier,which will in turn shape wider economic growth and poverty reduction at regional and national level in the long run.This will check the the rural-urban migration as the youth will have gainful employment on family farms.
Food systems for the future must balance the need for greater productivity and resource efficiency with resilience to thrive under uncertain climatic conditions,and the capacity to renew and regenerate the soil,water,air,energy.The hybridity and multi-functionality of the small family farm means it is the most viable model to a regenerative and nourished future.
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