We are still a small team, working with a good number of fellow poor farmers. Our team was slightly bigger a few years ago, but we had to scale back because the UCF virtually has no funding, and runs on a $0 budget for the most part. Our goal, though, is to attain self sustainability. So, our team will be even bigger as we move along.
I turned to farming in 2012, and got the idea of the UCF a year later. This was after a very fine struggle with ultra poverty, and after working as a teacher for seven years. Before becoming a farmer, teaching too had failed to move me from hunger. As a teacher, I struggled to even get what to eat, yet I had lived in chronic poverty since childhood. My story here.
By starting the UCF, I had two goals: 1) grow ample food, so I can escape hunger. Today, we have a lot of food at the UCF. 2) work with many fellow poor farmers to produce specific crops that we can pool and market together, so we can access better markets. Along the way, I came to learn that agricultural markets were very inaccessible to rural poor farmers. It is perhaps the biggest challenge that keeps all small farmers in poverty. I have since made it my goal to do something to change this.
Viola Namugeere – Farm & Records Manager
Viola, seen here standing in a sorghum field at the UCF, is the person responsible for all of our equipment; maintenance of the crop fields that have been planted by the UCF itself, and coordinating plans to supply inputs (such as seed) to the local farmers that we work with.
Viola’s interest in community work was partly honed by a career in public administration, which she otherwise chose to put to use in agriculture. In her final internship at Bugumbulya Sub County in Kamuli (2015), she was a catalyst on getting local households to construct latrines, plate stands and bathrooms.
Erina Kawala – Director, Community Outreach.
Erina, seen here donning a UCF T-shirt while hosting a visitor from the United States, joined us in 2016 as Director of Community Outreach.
To put it in her own words, Erina was attracted to our work because of the “practical nature of the UCF’s approach to reversing extreme poverty”. Erina spends most of her time visiting local farmers with the UCF motorbike several days a week. Ms. Kawala has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences, from Makerere University, which makes her work with rural poor smallholder farmers even best placed.
Rinah Kalivare – Finance & Administration Manager.
Rinah has been on our team since March 2016. Not only does Rinah oversee our finances, she is also one of the people who are very engaged with local farmers.
For seven days in a week, Monday to Sunday, she is answering phone calls from the over 300 farmers that the UCF currently works with. Not only that, Rinah also physically visits about 10 of these farmers every week — coordinating the supply of organic fertilizers (from the Kamuli sugar factory) to local farmers with the UCF’s dump truck; providing farmers with technical information and ongoing training on pests and disease control, or weed management.
Profiles of people who joined us recently (David Basooma – Project Extension Officer; Kussain Wambuga -Field Trainer, and Doreen Igaba – Field Supervisor) will come soon.