12 for 100% ADMIN self-sufficiency

 

That’s, multiplying production on the UCF’s 12 acre premises using irrigation and a little bit of permaculture, to ensure that 100% of our administrative costs are covered by the UCF itself. Help us put our 12 acres to maximum use to ensure just that. Details below.

 

(Harvesting white sorghum at the UCF’s 12-acre premises in January 2024).

 

The success of our work with rural farmers, for example the success of our current sorghum project, depends squarely on the UCF’s ability to cover our overheads on a sustained basis, without limiting ourselves on which activities we should/shouldn’t do.

Currently, the little support that we raise (e.g. towards our sorghum project) is spent on inputs like seed, tarpaulins, fertilizers, spray pumps etc that we provide to our farmers at no charge (only as a hand-up). But the day-to-day cost of running this work is huge.

Without a reliable means of meeting our overheads, expanding our work is very hard.

 

For example:

1). The UCF currently has a dump truck (photos below) that was donated to us by an American from Seattle in 2016. This truck is what we use to carry bulk supplies (seed etc) at planting; gather our farmers’ produce at harvest, and many other daily routines.

This truck is currently in need of six new tyres costing Ugx 5,000,000 ($1,389); a new piston kit at Ugx 7,000,000 ($1,944), and new painting/panel beating for Ugx 2,000,000 ($556). This truck also has many other minor expenses (including servicing) whenever it is in use, and has an 80-litre fuel tank that costs Ugx 450,000 to fill after every 350km.

So, if we were to expand our sorghum project, say, to cover every village in our two neighboring districts of Kamuli & Buyende (which is currently our goal), the costs of using this truck to carry the needed supplies, gather our farmers’ produce etc would be high, and it’s why we need to work out a way of meeting our administrative overheads.

 

2). The UCF has a motorbike that we use for daily field visits to local farmers. First, being a single bike, it isn’t enough for our field work. Still, even this single bike uses a lot of fuel in a week, and we generally use this motorbike to coordinate various tasks all year round, regardless of whether we are visiting local farmers on a given day or not.

Presently, one of our supporters in America (named Steve) is in the process of raising money to help the UCF secure at least two more motorbikes (Yamaha DT 125), which shall be very helpful in our field outreaches. Still, with 3+ motorbikes, we will need even more fuel, and many other expenses like motorbike repair/maintenance, insurance etc.

This is why we need to make our 12 acres productive enough to cover our overheads.

[ The UCF motorbike delivering spray pumps and tarpaulins to our sorghum farmers ]

 

3). The UCF maintains a team of 4 – 5 people who handle things like local farmer training/orientation; daily field visits to see our farmers’ work, and to provide technical advice. First, this team is very small, given the work we are aiming to do this point on.

Still, even for our current small team, we are barely able to compensate for their work, yet these people are always in the field visiting local farmers from Monday to Saturday.

 

This is only a small part:

The above are only a small part of the costs that are required of us in running our work. From the structures/buildings at our project office that need renovation, to paying the casual workers who permanently stay at the UCF, helping with all sorts of chores.

And right now, as we set out on our new goal of covering every village in Kamuli and Buyende with white sorghum, our overheads are set to become even more demanding.

Help us put our 12-acres to maximum use, to ensure 100% overhead self-sufficiency; the ability to expand our project as we see fit, and to run our work with continuity.

 

Here is what is needed:

To achieve 100% overhead self-sufficiency, all that we need is a) year-round production on our 12-acre premises using irrigation, and b) putting every portion of our 12 acres to use by integrating a whole array of crops and livestock, using permaculture approaches.

With the aid of irrigation, we want to have a wide range of high-income crops all year round, including apples that we will intercrop with cover crops (like legumes); a 5-acre section that is to be integrated with 5,000 free-range chicken, banana and coffee in the form of a tree-range system or a chicken forest; a section with pineapples intercropped with banana & fruits like papaya, and an array of crops in each available space (maize, sorghum, potato, passion fruit, pomegranatesgrapes; soursop, beets, spinach, tomato, broccoli, onions etc), including crops like red pepper that will make organic pesticides.

 

Irrigation.

East Africa as a whole has had some really disastrous droughts lately, and in Uganda, northern Uganda, and our region eastern Uganda, have been the worst hit. Here are 3 photos that we took at the UCF two years ago, during one of the worst dry spells here.

The UCF, however, has a borehole (in the photo above), and what we need now is to convert this bore from manual to solar-powered, install the needed irrigation systems, so we can best put our 12 acres to maximum use by growing various crops all year round.

Note: since we want to have a wide range of crops in an intercropping fashion, using drip irrigation won’t be possible, or it would be very costly and challenging to install. Instead, we will use 2 sprinklers (overhead rain guns), powered by a diesel water pump.

 

Irrigation costs:

For the water pump alone, a supplier in Kampala quoted for us Ugx 7,506,000 for a 14HP water pump with 100m head delivery and 1km horizontal delivery capacity; one sprinkler, and all horse pipes. With 2 sprinklers, total will be Ugx 9,000,6000 ($2,501).

To  convert our borehole to solar, an agency named Assen Ventures gave us a Ugx 41,375,000 ($11,493) quote that also includes two 10,000 liter plastic tanks where water is to be stored before it is pumped to the farm, and a steel tank stand for the 2 tanks.

Another agency named IET (based in Kenya with field offices across East Africa) gave us a Ugx 47,226,950 ($13,118) quote for converting our bore to solar; installing a steel tank stand, and one 10,000 plastic tank. Incidentally, IET has already installed a similar solar irrigation system for a local farmer here in Kamuli, and in that case, the cost was Ugx 150,000,000 ($41,667) because this farmer’s irrigation system used drip irrigation (this farmer’s irrigation system was also 100% funded by the government as said here).

Total irrigation costs: $13,118 (IET) and $2,501 (water pump + accessories): $15,619.

 

Mimicking permaculture:

We want to put put each available space on our 12-acre premises to maximum use — using a combination of irrigation and permaculture approaches, so we can have enough income from this land to cover 100% of our overheads. Some of the activities that we want to do, e.g., the cultivation of vegetables like onions, beets, spinach, broccoli etc or fruits like passion fruits, do not need a lot of capital (we will initiate these on our own).

Those activities for which we are seeking initial support are the ones listed here below:

 

a). A tree-range system or chicken forest. That’s, a 5-acre section with 5,000 free-range chicken, banana & coffee in what you would call tree-range, or a chicken forest.

Unlike those chicken that are kept under factory farming systems (like the battery cage system), free-range chicken are very cheap to feed, and to take care of. The 5-acre section where we want to put our chicken forest is already having mature coffee and banana. The only support that we are seeking to get our chicken forest established are:

5,000 one-month old local chicks costing $6,500 ($1.3 each); sixty rolls of galvanized chain link (14 gauge; 6ft high x 18m wide; 70mm x 70mm hole size) for fencing the 5 acres costing $2,743 ($46 per roll), 500 concrete poles for fencing costing $6,500 ($13 each), and a 30ft x 300ft (9 meter x 91 meter) chicken coop costing $34,918 to build. 

Total costs for getting our tree-range system or chicken forest established:  $50,661.

 

b). Four acres of apples. These are to be intercropped with legumes in the first years.

Though primarily a temperate crop, apples are now present across the tropics, including every African country. In Uganda, “apple farming has spread across the entire country” as reported in Uganda’s The Monitor newspaper in 2023, and the local demand is high.

The commonest varieties being grown in Uganda are Anna; Golden Dorset; James Driff, Winter Banana, Dalmena Green, among others. The adoption of dwarf varieties, in particular, has resulted in apples doing very well even in the most arid regions, while the use of dwarf rootstocks (for grafting), has shortened the maturity period to as little as 9 – 15 months, in contrast to standard apples trees that used to take 3 – 5 years.

The most widely adopted variety, however, that has spread to every part of East Africa, is the Wambugu apple, which originated in Kenya. In this video, a young Ugandan farmer (named Tony) from Katende Mpigi, just 149km (92 miles) from Kamuli, shows how his Wambugu apples that he bought from Kenya look like at exactly 2 years. And in this video, he is already harvesting (big fruits) before his trees even made 2 years.

 

Costs for apple seedlings: Because these are dwarf trees, they are spaced at 2mx2m or 2.5mx2.5m. And so, we will have 800 trees per acre or 3,200 trees in four acres.

To cater for possible withering at planting, we will buy 3,600 seedlings in total (and in case of no withering, we will still get space for the surplus seedlings). We will buy 1,800 Wambugu seedlings, and 1,800 seedlings comprising Anna; Golden Dorsett; Fuji, Winter Banana (450 seedlings each). Note: variety diversification is essential for pollination.

The 1,800 wambugu seedlings will cost $18,000 (Wambugu sells each at $10 or KES 1,000). Other apple seedling sellers in Kenya and Uganda also sell a seedling at Ugx 30,000. So the other 1,800 seedlings will cost $15,400. Cost for 3,600 trees: $33,400.

 

Grand total: $99,680.

Help us put our 12 acres to maximum use to ensure 100% overhead self-sufficiency, while placing the ultra poor in Uganda’s most impoverished region on a self-sustainable path from poverty. (If we raise any support specifically for this purpose, we will mention it here). You can also help by creating a small GoFundMe specifically for $99,680.