The Fruit of His Labor
Editor's Note: With our thanks to our Uganda mission team for providing this piece.
Lomoe Achilla is a 55-year-old married father and peasant farmer from the Kaabong district of Karamoja, Uganda. In order to stay afloat financially, and not get hit hard by the lean seasons causing food insecurity in his area, he embraced the idea of raising fruit tree seedlings.
“I got the idea to establish and manage a tree nursery last year, from Action Against Hunger. This international NGO is here running a project to improve food security and enhance the resilience of my community,” he said.
Not enough rainfall, not enough to eat
Lomoe, who was once a renowned cattle keeper, is upset that the lack of rainfall has led to increased food insecurity and exacerbated the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. He believes that these issues, food insecurity and poverty, are threatening the livelihoods of many people here. They can also sometimes lead to acute undernutrition.
“As agro-pastoral farmers, we are always worried about insufficient rainfall amounts,” he explained. “They greatly affect crop growth, which leads to poor yields and low income earnings. As a result of this, I would recommend that people focus on diversification. It’s important to have alternative income, and I have that through raising tree seedlings for sale and planting. It isn’t rain-dependent.”
Lomoe adds that alternative income is a great way to lift people out of poverty and make them resilient to hunger shocks. He’s using his project to sensitize community members, and just ran a project for more than 100 people who would like to learn his business in September.
A new business and a new way forward
As a beneficiary of Action Against Hunger’s program, generously funded by the United Nations World Food Programme, Lomoe was provided with startup supplies for his business. These included ½ kilogram of guava seeds, ½ kilogram of orange seeds, ½ kilogram of passion fruit seeds, and a quantity of mango seeds. In addition he received a roll of barbed wire, three watering cans, four jerrycans, and a roll of potting sleeves.
On his own, he acquired a piece of land and additional materials like forked poles, reeds, thatch grass, and fiber for the construction of nursery beds. He also collected farm yard manure, topsoil, river sand, and clay soil for his endeavor.
Using the above supplies, he was able to raise 14,200 fruit tree seedlings: 7,042 guavas, 5,090 passion fruits, 1,215 oranges, 200 pawpaw, and 653 mangoes. Our field staff visited Lomoe’s farm daily to check in, and to equip him with the technical skills and knowledge he needed to run his nursery and manage his business.
Lomoe said that he now works from Monday to Saturday, from 7am until mid-day. That’s been his schedule for the past seven months, and he said he’s only just beginning to reap the benefits of his sweat equity.
So far he has earned a total of 7.2 million Ugandan Shillings – or $2,118 USD – from the sale of his tree seedlings.
He has bought two bulls costing 500,000 Ugandan Shillings ($147 USD) each, with a goal of restocking his cattle. He also purchased two bags of maize grain (150,000 Ugandan Shillings or $44 USD each) for home consumption. His harvest is making his dreams bigger and bigger.
“I can now harvest up to a tune of 7.2 million shillings in a year,” he said. “This helps me educate my children, and I can save a little in the village savings and loan association group and more in my bank account,” he explained.
“Before the start of next season, I would like to buy an ox plough for land cultivation, fruit seeds for establishing a new nursery, build a new house, buy a bicycle for transport, a mobile phone for market linkages, start a produce shop business, and continue to educate my children,” he concluded with a smile.
Lomoe knows how to dream big and aim high! And if he continues his hard work, we so no reason why he can’t achieve them all.