The Uganda Community Farm — or simply the UCF — is a nonprofit social enterprise situated on 12 acres in Namisita, a village in a remote part of Kamuli, eastern Uganda.
When we had just got the idea of the UCF, as seen in this 2013 article, or in this 2015 Release, our goal was to get 50 – 100 acres; develop a large community farm where we could work with hundreds of fellow poor farmers to grow food, transfer new skills and market our produce under a single umbrella. Back then, our founder Anthony was reeling from absolute poverty and had no land. No other local farmer could offer land for the UCF either. Anthony thought he could secure the needed land via a fundraiser.
After failing to secure the 50-100 acres, and securing only 12 acres instead, we had to change our originally envisaged business model, but kept the “community farm” name. Our goal, too, remained the same: working with many fellow poor farmers to produce specific crops that we could pool and market together, to access better markets. That is the UCF’s goal even today. Many of the farmers we work with are chronically poor, and can’t get started on their own. So, the UCF also provides direct support to the farmers we work with. Please read on below to learn about our business model.
Unlike traditional community farms where all the participating farmers work on the same land, our land is too small to move many farmers from poverty if used that way.
Rather, what we do is: we identify a specific crop of interest, and grow it ourselves on our 12 acres. We then get many other rural poor farmers to grow the same crop on their own land, by providing them with inputs like seed, and the needed agronomic training. This enables us to work with any number of farmers, spanning a bigger total acreage. The UCF also has its own dump truck, and whenever our capacity allows, this truck delivers organic wastes (as fertilizers) to all our farmers. If not, the truck only supplies seed to farmers at planting, and gathers produce at harvest. We then create market links for our collective produce, so we can market it under a single umbrella.
Our work blends 3 models: 1) a farmers cooperative, in the way we work with other farmers. 2) a nonprofit, in the way we support other farmers, because we are working with some of the poorest rural farmers who can’t get started on their own, 3) a social enterprise, in the way we seek to use self-sustainability to create impact, and to scale.