Today has been a very long day and it is late, so I just want to briefly talk about three members of the Rice Farmers Cooperative-Lira who have had great success since joining the cooperative and the Village Savings and Loans groups.
We spent the day in Alebtong in Northern Uganda. This is an area where people fled from their homes during the period when the Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized Northern Uganda and only started returning since 2007. These are people who are re-building their lives again.
We met Bonny and his wife Margaret. They told us that since joining the cooperative, their income from rice farming has increased from around 290.00 per year to 2,290.00 per year. In addition, Bonny buys and sells cows and Margaret grows and sells tomatoes, beignet and sells petrol. They said that using the processing factory owned by the cooperative, they have increased both the quality and quantity of rice. They used their profits to buy 2 bulls and a cow, a motorcycle and school fees.
Eunice told us that her income has increased from 286.00 per year to 1,715.00 per year. She used her profits to build a brick building where she will house a shop for herself, a tailor shop for her daughter and will rent out two other spaces. They will live in the back of the building, which will be their first brick house. Eunice was the top provider of rice for processing at the factory this past year!
Simon told us that being part of the cooperative has taught him leadership skills. He increased his income from rice from 428.00 per year to 1,143.00. He used his profits to build a brick house on the beautiful property where he lived in a traditional house with his wife Helen and their seven kids. He also was able to pay school fees for the six who are old enough to attend school and bought two bulls. This coming harvest in September, he expects to earn around 3,000.00.
This area is gorgeous; as are most places we work. It is flat, in comparison to where have projects in Western Uganda and Rwanda. The houses are spread far apart in the villages and it feels very far from the rest of the world. All of these farmers are impacted by a drought. If the rains do not come soon, their season will be lost.