The Farmer Enterprise Development Unit which houses the Small Holder Farmers Project and the Micro Finance Association Project is the Economic Arm of KRC that facilitates rural farmers in the Rwenzori Region to use available resource to improve their own livelihoods. The unit facilitates small holder farmers with knowledge, skills and financial resources for progressive transformation of subsistence farming into market oriented production with the aim of increasing maximum returns of income at small holder farmer level. This is done through increasing; farmers’ entrepreneurship skills, access to market, saving and credit services, value addition, and production opportunities for improved house incomes. Whereas the focus is on incomes, strategies for improving food security and nutrition are devised to ensure that market oriented production does not compromise food security.
The unit further recognize the vulnerability of the very poor individuals whose needs are not met in the group centered approach and works with the very poor individual households in the community on micro entrepreneurship development which in the short run helps them meet their immediate needs but in the long run help them to understand and act on their own processes of development. The very poor individual intervention is tailored to the needs of the very poor individuals and gradually enhances their capacity and confidence to join existing farmer groups.
The program unit implements looks a number of issues:
Promoting nutritional and food security amongst small holder households
Knowledge processes and research reveal that market oriented production compromises household food and nutrition security. KRC is using a case study approach amongst the cocoa growing households of Bundibugyo to address acute malnutrition levels amongst the children in the District. Bundibugyo District ranks second in terms of micro nutrient deficiency amongst children under five in Uganda. A case approach was administered to 300 household sampled from two Sub-counties of Kisuba and Ndugutu to study adoption of smart nutrition kitchen gardening practices at community level. in order to facilitate an continuous nutrition and food security education, health centre based nutrition gardens were established to to target mothers or women who frequently visit the health centres for antenatal and post natal visits. This is part of KRC action research process whose results inform roll out to other areas and as well influence policy advocacy. Read related stories on food insecurity in Bundibugyo and smart kitchen gardening.
Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Technology, a practical gender need for women
KRC promotes access to clean and efficient cooking energy technologies at household level especially for women in a way of responding to this particular practical gender need.
Over 80% of the rural households in the Rwenzori Region and Uganda as whole use wood fuel on the traditional three cooking stones [a form of cooking stove], whose fuel consumption is exceptionally high. On the hand, alternative sources of energy like gas and electricity are too costly for many rural farming and low income urban households in Ugandans. This is one of the main causes of the high rate of deforestation in Uganda. In 2013 KRC constructed 725 Lorena stoves in Fort portal Municipality Kabarole District, Ndugutu and Kisuba Sub-counties in Bundibugyo District. The monitoring exercise conducted in November 2013 on 100 households revealed 29% time was saved by women with introduction of Lorena stoves. On average a woman used 75.5 minutes to prepare a meal with use of 3 cooking stones and 53.6 minutes with use of a Lorena stove, 14.5% increase in male participation in cooking after introduction of the Lorena stoves and 42% reduction in amount of fuel wood used per day. Read related story.
Increasing agricultural production and productivity amongst small holder farmers for coffee, banana and maize value chains
Coffee, banana and maize value chains are key income and food security crops for vast smallholder farmers in the Rwenzori Region. KRC focuses on enhancing small holder farmers’ knowledge and skills in agronomic practices for increased productivity in the three value chains. KRC does through demonstration of recommended agronomic practices and adoptive technology. Farmers are encouraged to generate and evaluate indigenous knowledge and choose to adapt external ones on the basis of their own knowledge and onsite performance. Related story.
Better Market opportunities for increased incomes
Increasing small holder farmers access to better market opportunities is key to increasing their household incomes. KRC promotes collective marketing amongst the small holder farmers through market research, market information access and facilitation of farmer-buyer interfaces. Research revelation is that the private sector plays a big role in stimulating farmer action in stimulating agriculture commodity markets and that small holder farmers respond and adopt faster to conditions from the demand side of the value chain than the supply side. KRC’s initiatives aim at enhancing small holder farmers’ knowledge and skills in harvesting, post harvest handling, value addition in coffee, maize and banana value chains. Read related story.
Access to micro finance and agricultural financial services for rural small holder farmers
Rural and farmer owned finance intermediaries is a proven and sure way farmers to leap out of poverty. In may ways rural credit should help small holder farmers organised in groups, increase investment in production, post harvest handling, value addition, quality and marketing. KRC has facilitated this process through capacity strengthening, information access, coaching and mentoring in nurturing small holder farmers own micro finance intermediaries. Read related stories on Mahango Micro-finance Association and Busaiga Savings And Credit Co-operative.
Promoting Micro enterprise Development for the poorest of poor households
In many cases of poverty targeting, the popular group centered approach does not address the vulnerability of the poorest of poor households. Alternatively, KRC has piloted the very poor individual households targeting approach to enhance micro entrepreneurship development which in the short run helps them to meet their immediate needs but in the long run help them to understand and act on their own processes of development. The very poor individual intervention is tailored to the needs of the very poor individuals and gradually enhances their capacity and confidence to integrate in their wider community development processes. KRC has worked with 405 households on micro business enterprise development in the Rwenzori region from an action research perspective where grant of 200,000 – 250,000UGX were given to each individual household. One key lesson for development practitioners is that the very poor also have plans to get out of poverty but are in most times isolated from development processes due to ridged methods of poverty targeting. Read related story.
Economic agency as a catalyst to political/ civic citizenship amongst the small holder farmers
Economic empowerment of small holder farmers through strengthening producer organisations to enhance their production, value addition, marketing and financing needs is closely associated to their participation in governance processes. The theory of change is that if smallholder farmers are economically empowered, they begin to analyse the linkage between leadership and governance to services delivery and the wider policy environment. Read related story on farmers in Kasenda Sub County influenced the establishment of their own community market and how KRC has contributed to knowledge on Small Producer Agency in the Globalised Market.