Hello Jonathan,

I am very happy to hear from you, and I am really delighted to know you are beginning to put together your messaging for the fundraiser. Thanks so much.

Below are the answers to the questions you asked:


Question #1.

How much seed and equipment does each farmer need to successfully participate for 1 season (including transportation costs and fuel)? How much does that cost per farmer? How many people work in your team that need to be provided with monthly salaries?


a). Here is what each farmer needs to participate successfully for one season, totaling $171 per farmer a season (but this may become $182 per farmer once our fuel costs change as described below):

—  10 kilograms of seed for two acres (8kg are needed for planting, and the other two are for gap filling because the seed usually has a low viability). Sub total: $30.

—  One tarpaulin: $42 (these tarpaulins wear out quickly, so a farmer needs a new one each season, although some farmers manage to keep them in a good condition for the next season).

—  Fuel: $4 per farmer in a season. This fuel cost, however, is based on the fact that, besides our dump truck (which is used for carrying seed and gathering produce), the UCF currently has only one motorcycle that we use for community sensitization meetings, farmer orientation/training, and ongoing field visits — which in itself limits the number of visits we can make. The ideal number of motorcycles that we need, to run our community sensitization and farmer training efficiently, is four. Here, the total fuel cost per farmer in a season would be $15 (this is because we would be making more field visits than we do now, and would be having more motorcycles to refuel).

—  Artificial fertilizers: 100kg of NPK or DAP (50kg per acre): $86 per farmer.

—  Pesticides: $9 per farmer.

—  A one-time cost of spray pumps ($50 each), but each pump will be shared by multiple farmers. The majority of our farmers can’t afford pumps, but we won’t have to provide each farmer with a pump. Every 5 neighboring farmers would share a pump. That means 400 farmers would need 80 pumps. This costs $4,000 in total.


b). Number of people on our team who need to be paid a monthly salary?

Our current team is of 5 people, but we would need to be nine (9) people going forward, to run our work effectively. So, our team shall have 9 people who need to be paid a monthly salary.

A five-person team is very small when making initial community awareness meetings; initial farmer orientation/training; giving out seed; and planting. The workload thereafter becomes less (and we are only left with making follow-up visits), but becomes very big again at harvest.

But a 9-person team, this point forward, shall be a good one.


Question #2:

You mentioned one of the big challenges is that farmers have been producing poor quality sorghum. What’s the plan to improve that situation? How much money is required for training? What happens with the low quality sorghum?


a). What’s the plan to improve that situation?

There are two main causes of poor quality sorghum:

—  Cause #1: infertile soils:

Most farmers’ soils are exhausted, due to deforestation and other poor farming systems. But Uganda Breweries recommends that all their sorghum farmers use DAP or NPK fertilizers, as well as specific pesticides, and that is what their sorghum farmers in northern Uganda currently do.

Since our farmers are only beginning and are unable to secure these inputs on their own, we would like to change this by providing each farmer with 100kg of DAP/NPK (enough for 2 acres) and the right pesticides, free of charge, for at least the first 4 planting seasons.

—  Cause #2: insufficient farmer training / ongoing field visits:

The other main cause of poor quality sorghum is a) farmers taking long to weed their crops especially when our team isn’t able to visit them on time, b) farmers not thinning their crops to the recommended number of crops per hole (UBL recommends two), and c) farmers starting to harvest their sorghum very early, when it is not completely white and dry (i.e. when it is still green-ish).

To change this, what we need is the capacity to provide farmers with sufficient training, and the means to visit all of our farmers as regularly as possible, e.g. once a week, or at least once every fortnight. To do this, here is what we need:

—  A good team, preferably 9 people.

—  Enough means of transport, preferably 4 motorcycles (we need 3 more).

Currently, the lone motorcycle that we have is small and a bit weak (the type that is used for Boda Boda or motorbike taxi in Uganda). We would need the 3 additional motorbikes to be of a more durable type called Yamaha DT 125 (seen in the photo here below) — which is the type that is commonly used for project work in Uganda. The 3 more motorbikes will cost $16,056 in total, i.e. $5,352 each.

—  With a 9-person team, and a total of four motorbikes in place, the other thing that we would need to run our farmer training effectively is a fuel budget of $6,000 per planting season, averaging at $15 per farmer in a season.


b). How much money is required for training?

We need $39,182 for training, of which the only new expenditure is $5,000 (i.e. visual aids and reference resources). The other $32,682 is in terms of inputs that are already covered above (i.e., a 9-person team; a means of transport, and fuel costs). Also, inputs like motorbikes are only a one-time expenditure.

Here is a breakdown of the $39,182:

—  A 9-person team, costing $9,126 a planting season (i.e. $169 per person a month).

—  Three more motorcycles (to make it four), costing $16,056 in total i.e. $5,352 each.

—  $6,000 in total fuel costs for one season (i.e. $15 per farmer).

—  Vehicle servicing, maintenance & repair: $3,000 (or $500 a month).

—  $5,000 for visual aids and reference resources, e.g. printing out UBL’s leaflets about common pests and diseases in sorghum (to be given out to each farmer); charts and writing materials for use in training workshops; printing out large (A3 size) posters showing sorghum fields of those farmers who participated in the previous seasons — to help in orientating new farmers (or cultivating their interest), and for these new farmers to learn from. The other thing we can here is to invite resource persons, e.g. experienced sorghum farmers from other regions, to train our farmers.


c). What happens with the low quality sorghum?

Generally, the only low quality sorghum that isn’t marketable is that which was harvested very early, when it is still green-ish, instead of being fully white and dry. This happens when a farmer starts harvesting without consulting our team, or when our team wasn’t having the capacity to visit all farmers at time of harvest.

In this case (i.e. for green-ish sorghum), we ask the farmer to use it as food. The other form of poor quality sorghum is where a farmer’s soils were not fertile enough, and they didn’t use any fertilizers. But in this case, the only problem is that the sorghum will produce small-size grains, and a lot of fluff, or dwarf grains. But, as long as they harvest it when it is fully dry, and then winnow it well to remove all the dwarf sorghum grains, then it is still marketable.


Question #3:

You mentioned an absence of irrigation systems. To what extent is that hurting your harvest? Would an irrigation system help?

Yes, definitely. One of the biggest challenges farmers here face is long, frequent droughts. We have two major planting seasons a year, but droughts have now become very frequent even at times when it is supposed to be rainy. Therefore, an irrigation system would definitely help.

Nonetheless, I really believe we won’t be able to install irrigation systems, right now, because each of the farmers that we work with has their own field, and plants the sorghum in their own individual field. This makes it impossible for us to provide each farmer with their own irrigation systems, because the costs would be too high to install one for each farmer.

Also, the cheapest irrigation system for individual farmers would be a manual (or hand-powered) irrigation system, costing about $150 per farmer, because most farmers won’t use them even if they were provided to them free of charge, because they are very laborious, and require a lot of energy to pump the water in such a way that the water gains enough pressure while flowing through the PVC pipes, using one’s hands. On the other hand, the cheapest but durable diesel-powered water pump, and water sprinkler, would require at least $1,500 per farmer.

Maybe, the only thing we can probably do is to install an irrigation system at the UCF itself, for other farmers to learn from. Still, I have just spoken with a Ugandan irrigation engineer who installed the irrigation system in the video here below, but the cost for installing an irrigation system similar to the one in this video, on the UCF’s 12 acres, is very prohibitive, and I really believe we should think about this some other time, not now.

Watch that YouTube video here.

Installing a solar-powered irrigation system (like the one in the above video) on the UCF’s 12 acres, along with a fence similar to the one in that video (for security of our equipment), would require nearly a separate $150,000. So, I really believe this too should be for some time later, not now.


Question #4:

You’re currently running a fundraiser on Rallyup. For people in my network who don’t work for Google, I’m thinking about referring them to your Rallyup page. How does Rallyup.com pay out the donations you’ve raised? Only once you’ve hit your goal or do they pay you out continuously? How much fees are they charging you?

RallyUp has two methods of paying out the money raised:

Method #1, if you have a stripe account, all the money raised on RallyUp is deposited in your Bank account on a daily basis. But I have no stripe account, so I didn’t select this option.

Method #2, if you have no stripe account, is to use ‘deferred payment’, where all the money raised is collected by RallyUp, and sent to you 90 days from the time the campaign has ended. This is the option I chose. With method 2, you can also manually end the campaign even if you haven’t yet met your goal, but the money will still be sent to you 90 days from the time you terminated the campaign.

With fees, RallyUp has 3 account plans, but the plan that I signed up for (i.e. the free plan), charges no platform, but only charges payment processing fees of 2.2% + $0.30. campaign. RallyUp says the guaranteed payout amount on the free plan that I chose is 97.5% of the total donated.


Question #5:

How many people are part of your farming network in total (including children, relatives, etc)?

We currently work with at least 400 rural farming households in a given planting season. Also, the average household size in our region is 5 people, implying, the 400 households are home to 2,000 people.

Worth noting, however, is that we don’t really work with the same farmers, or a fixed group of farmers every season — since the UCF’s isn’t a membership-based organization.

Rather, at the beginning of each planting season, we move from village to village across Kamuli and Buyende districts, a region of over 3,400 square kilometers, orientating and signing up new farmers, in addition to those who were already part of our work in the previous seasons.

This means, the farmers that we work with in a given planting include both those who have taken part in our work in the previous seasons, and those who are only participating in our project for the very first time.

The reason we do this is: it is very common to train say 100 farmers, and only get 40 farmers (out of the 100) who are prepared to plant in a given season. It is also very common for a farmer not to plant, even if they participated in all our training meetings, and even if they are part of those who planted in the previous season. It is why we train as many farmers as possible at the start of each season.

However, the number of farmers that we currently work with each planting season is 400, although we come down to this number by training over 1,000 farmers in a season, to get the 400 who are ready to plant.


To sum up:

If we are to successfully support 400 farmers for one season, we would need $115,982, of which part of this money is for one-time expenses, as shown here:

— Key inputs (seed; tarpaulins; fertilizers; pesticides, fuel):  $72,800 (or $182/farmer)

—  One-time cost for 80 spray pumps:   $4,000 (or $50 per pump)

—  One-time cost for 3 more motorbikes:  $16,056 (or 5,352 per motorbike)

— Total fuel cost:  $6,000 (or $15 per farmer)

— Visual aids and reference resources: $5,000

— A 9-person team salary:  $9,126 for 6 months (or $169 per person a moth).

—  Vehicle servicing, maintenance & repair: $3,000 (or $500 a month).


Thanks so much, Jonathan!