Catalyzing mass adoption of white sorghum in Kamuli & Buyende, in Uganda’s most impoverished region of Busoga — in eastern Uganda.            (written Dec 28, 2022).




1). Overview

2). Target market for our sorghum

3). Making our work self-sustainable

4). Mass adoption is also what will bring self-sustainability

5). Project costs/budget breakdown



Busoga, a region in eastern Uganda that is home to over 3.7m people, is Uganda’s most impoverished. Kamuli & Buyende districts, on the other hand, being Busoga’s remotest area, are arguably the poorest in Busoga itself. In Kamuli & Buyende, it is even very hard to find anything that is happening to end extreme poverty. The two districts together have 165,000+ households, and over a million people.

Since 2019, the UCF has trained over 1,500 rural poor farmers in Kamuli and Buyende, on white sorghum. Our work was largely disrupted by covid over the last 3 years, but we are now back. And presently, due in part to the economic hardship from covid, but also due to the underlying grip of poverty in our region, many farmers have shown interest in taking part in our sorghum project.

Besides, East Africa in general has had a lot of droughts lately, and our region has been one of the worst hit. In many parts of Kamuli and Buyende, most farmers  have not harvested any food in the last six planting seasons (2020 – 2022). Luckily, sorghum is one of those crops that require very little rains once it germinates, and is therefore a very ideal crop for the increasing droughts in our region.

The UCF’s goal this point onward is to scale this project across Kamuli & Buyende, and to catalyze mass adoption for white sorghum across our region.



Target market for our sorghum:

We have already spoken with the people at Uganda Breweries (UBL), and these have accepted to provide a ready market for our farmers’ sorghum, at Ugx 1, 050 per kg.

The sorghum seed that we are currently using is also sourced directly from UBL. This is UBL’s main prerequisite for buying sorghum from local farmers — the seed must be bought from UBL itself.

Selling you seed is also UBL’s only Memorandum of Understanding with local farmers. That’s, UBL doesn’t sign a separate MOU with its farmers. The moment they agree to sell you seed, that is their only declaration that they have now agreed to buy your produce at the available market prices.

UBL is part of East African Breweries Limited, and they are already buying white sorghum from farmers across East Africa. In Uganda, UBL currently buys white sorghum mostly from farmers in northern Uganda, and parts of western Uganda. In Kamuli & Buyende, and Busoga as a whole, white sorghum is being introduced here for the very first time by the UCF. Farmers in our region also aren’t producing any other crops that are bought by big buyers like UBL.

Gathering our farmers’ sorghum and ferrying it to our buyers at harvest, is the responsibility of the UCF. The UCF has its own dump truck that we use for carrying bulk seed (and other inputs) at planting; gathering our farmers’ sorghum at harvest, and delivering it to our buyers.

This marks the first time that farmers in our region, who already have no market for other crops, and who aren’t part of any value chains, will access a mainstream market in the food industry.

In hindsight, the main challenge that keeps every rural farmer in our region in poverty is the absence of reliable markets. So, by providing rural poor farmers with initial inputs, and building new market linkages for their produce, we are both giving these farmers a hand-up, and placing them on a self-sufficient path from poverty.

Right now, however, we have not yet started supplying sorghum to UBL, although the seed that we are using even now comes from UBL. This is because the quality and quantity of our farmers’ sorghum isn’t yet sufficient. This is what the UCF aims to accomplish this point onward, with our new goal of scaling white sorghum in Kamuli & Buyende, and catalyzing mass adoption for white sorghum across our region.

To ensure that our farmers’ sorghum is of sound quality and quantity, the UCF will also need to provide all our farmers with a few more inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, spray pumps, tarpaulins etc) than what we are currently providing them with, and we will need to have the means to make regular field visits — to see our farmers work, and to provide ongoing assistance.


Making our work self-sustainable:

Currently, given the social-economic status of farmers in our region, all the inputs that the UCF provides to the farmers that we are working with (seed, tarpaulins, fertilizers etc), are free. The UCF also doesn’t make any profit from our farmers’ sorghum.

However, for purposes of making our overall work financially self-sustaining, the UCF will eventually adopt a business model where each of our farmers is paid for their sorghum at a price that is less the cost of inputs that we are providing them with, and our administration costs (fuel, our field staff etc).

But this will come only and only after our farmers have attained some functional level of self-sufficiency.

Our idea is: if a farmer successfully grows sorghum for 4 straight seasons, they would then be in a position to a) use their incomes from previous seasons to secure all the needed inputs in subsequent planting seasons on their own, and b) have enough surplus income to support their families.

So, to bring each farmer to a point of self-sustainability, the UCF’s current goal is to provide each of our farmers with free inputs for four seasons, or two years.


Mass adoption is also what will bring self-sustainability:

Our current goal, again, is to scale our sorghum project across Kamuli & Buyende, and to catalyze mass adoption for white sorghum across our region.

Mass adoption will not only help move many rural poor farmers from poverty, but also, a large volume of produce is what will give us an edge on the market. That’s, it is what will make our farmers’ sorghum more attractive to many more big buyers.

This, in turn, is what will give our farmers the self-motivation (and the means) to even start securing the needed inputs on their own after the UCF’s support ends, either because they will now be having their own steady income from sorghum, or because they have been inspired by those farmers who are already earning a steady income, ultimately making the whole project self-scaling, and self-sustainable.


Project costs / budget breakdown:

Each farmer will cost $180 in inputs (per season) as detailed below, excluding project administration expenses. To catalyze mass adoption, our goal in 2023 is to support an equal number farmers in Kamuli and Buyende, e.g. 100 farmers per district, each planting season. We have two seasons in a year.


a). Cost per farmer:

—  10 kgs of seed (enough for 2 acres):  $32

—  A large tarpaulin: $42

—  25kg of DAP (Di-ammonium Phosphate) fertilizers at planting: $36

—  25kg of NPK fertilizers at flowering stage: $36

—  Pesticides: $9

—  Spray pump: $25 (this is a one-off expense).

Total cost per farmer: $180. This will become $155 per farmer each subsequent season, after deducting one-off expenses.

Our next planting season is March – July 2023. But farmer orientation and training starts January. This is to ensure that our farmers’ fields will be ready for planting by the time rains arrive in March/April.


b). Staff expenses:

—  A 5-person team, costing $870 a month (that’s, $174 per person).

Total cost for staff expenses: $870 per month (or $5,220 for six months). 

Note: our sorghum takes 4-5 months to mature, but when added to the time that we spend on orientating and training our farmers, each planting cycle is six months.


C). Vehicle expenses:

—  Two motorbikes (Yamaha DT 125): $12,000. That’s, 6,000 each. This is a one-off expense.

These motorbikes shall enable our team to make regular field visits, to see our farmers work, and to provide ongoing assistance.

—  $580 in fuel costs per month (that’s, $145 per week, or $29 per day).

—  Vehicle servicing, maintenance & repair: $200 a month.

Total cost for vehicle expenses:  $16,680 (this will become $4,680 each subsequent season).


So, if we are to support say 100 farmers in Kamuli, and another 100 farmers in Buyende (or 200 farmers in total), we will need $57,900 for one planting season ($36,000 in inputs for 200 farmers; $5,220 for staff expenses, and $16,680 in vehicle expenses). This would thereafter become $40,900 each subsequent season after deducting one-off expenses.


How you can help:

1). Make a contribution via this page, or via other ways on our support us page.

2). Create your own fundraiser on our behalf, to help us raise support.


Your support will be much appreciated.