In May 2015, the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) won an award to introduce an innovative Farming Project to help farmers transit from tobacco to other alternative enterprises. The Project code named ‘Better Farming, Better Me, is worthy over 43,000$ and will be carried out in Hoima District, one of Uganda’s tobacco growing districts.
The award is one of the seven grants given by the Resilient Africa Network (RAN) under the Resilience Innovation Challenge for Adverse Climate effects funded by USAID.
Current tobacco farming techniques in Uganda are extremely harmful to the farmer and the environment. The processing of tobacco requires large amounts of wood fuel in order to flue-cure it. This has had a great impact on the forest cover in the region. In addition, traditional tobacco growing also utilizes a large amount of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. These are often not only very expensive and harmful to the environment but also not safely handled by the women and children who often work the most on tobacco crops
The Better Farming, Better Me Project will be implemented in conjunction with Good Leisure Farm and is aimed at introducing Kroiler chicken farming and high yield maize as alternative enterprises to tobacco farming.
The proposed innovation will involve introducing poultry and high yield maize as alternative enterprises to tobacco growing under the theme ‘Diversification of Income for Improved Life for tobacco dependent communities in Uganda’. Using a gradual approach, poultry and maize farming will be introduced to tobacco farmers as tobacco is being phased out.
The BFBM project is expected to prove agricultural practices and create opportunities for businesses that can be coupled and synergize each other, improve farmer engagement in multiple income generating activities, improve farmer leverage within produce markets and increase options for profitable farm and off-farm businesses for rural farmers. The ultimate impact will be communities with diversified livelihoods breaking the monopoly and over dependence on tobacco growing, markedly improved household incomes with good saving culture, wealth and income security and food secure households with reduced malnutrition levels.
The Project starts off with a baseline and needs finding survey this August to collect baseline information that will inform the implementation and evaluation of the Project. A team of five research assistants have been identified and trained to work with the core team of investigators.
Background to the Better Farming Better Me Innovation
The innovation comes from the fact that tobacco use is the single most cause of death among adults, killing 6 million people annually, 10% of whom are none smokers, (mainly women and children) due to second Hand smoke ( WHO) .Tobacco farmers are equally faced with health hazards even when they don’t smoke, in addition to the low incomes, high labor intensiveness, food insecurity, and environmental degradation associated with tobacco growing. Majority of the tobacco farmers depend on tobacco alone, subjecting them to low incomes as compared to other enterprises, as well as exploitation by the monolithic Tobacco Industry .
There are also high levels of food insecurity and environmental degradation in communities that rely on only one form of commercial crop production. This is seen mainly in areas where tobacco is the only perennially grown cash crop. The key challenge is how to wean households from dependency on one crop, in a complex system where various incentive structures (e.g. provision of fertilizers, seed and farming implements and guaranteed purchases by tobacco companies although at very low prices) tend to keep farmers in a dependency loop.
The Better Farming Better Me project aims at increasing economic growth and improving livelihoods through increased household incomes. It is expected to increase production, marketing and consumption of maize and poultry products as alternatives to tobacco growing and also improve nutrition, food and income security.
The specific objectives of the Project are to:
1. Support the development of farmer capacity to effectively use and manage improved maize and poultry production technologies for improved productivity;
2. Develop farmer organizations for improved access to production and post-harvest handling services; and for collective marketing of their produce;
3. Develop Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to increase access awareness about public health and environmental management;
4. Promote efficiency of value chain actors by identifying critical linkages among the various actors in the maize and poultry value chains to ensure integration of production, value addition/agro-processing and market.
Implementation modalities for Better Farming Better Me Project
CTCA in partnership with Gudie Leisure Farm will introduce poultry and maize farming as alternative enterprises to tobacco growing. The BFBM project will introduce the following innovations:
• Using the same resources (land, labour) to manage multiple enterprises,
• Earning daily instead of yearly income as has been with tobacco,
• Empowering farmers to negotiate prices for their products,
• Adding value through milling and packaging maize grain to preserve and create more jobs.
Additionally, the use of chicken litter mixed with droppings as manure for maize gardens and maize bran as food for chicken will promote a well-balanced ecosystem. The poultry enterprise is not weather dependent, uses less space, protects the environment, is less labor intensive and will lower school dropout rate, highly attributed to tobacco growing.
It is also important to note that Chicken requires less land as compared to tobacco growing and are more disease resistant. Both maize and poultry farming have minimal harm on the environment compared to tobacco growing thus minimizing the likelihood of weather related disaster.
How BFBM project aligns to the Resilience Africa Lab’s theory of change for strengthening resilience
The BFBM project will apply the experiential learning model where existing knowledge will be documented and harnessed. A phased incremental approach will be used where families will plan their interventions, implement while monitoring and learning what works in order to inform the next cycle.
In the first phase, farmers in a group will be given a choice between chicken and Maize farming alongside tobacco. Farmers will be guided to document their experience in terms of labor usage, inputs and their costs, effect on environment, profitability etc. which will guide their choice in phase two.
In the second phase, farmers will be encouraged to add the other enterprise (either maize or chicken). The project will train and build capacity aimed at transforming the people to promote values which will form a catalyst for sustainable change and resilience.
These values include:
i. Environmental conservation;
iii. Agriculture practices based on business model – having profitable agriculture practices;
iv. Saving and investing;
v. Working in groups.
Proposed Business Modeling and scaling strategy for BFBM
The project will build the capacities of communities to run profitable businesses, negotiate for better prices, save and invest. The BFBM project will raise and diversify income, break the monopoly and over dependence on tobacco companies and minimizes food insecurity.
The business model will be spelt out showing better profitability of the enterprises being introduced as compared to the existing tobacco growing. The project will ensure reliable supply of farm inputs including high-yielding maize seeds, chicks and provide guarantees for the markets of products accruing from the adopted/alternative enterprises. This proposed innovation will involve introducing poultry and high yield maize as alternative enterprises to tobacco growing under the theme ‘Diversification of Income for Improved Life for tobacco dependent communities in Uganda’. Using a gradual approach, poultry and maize farming will be introduced to tobacco farmers as tobacco is being phased out. This innovation will enable farmers to switch from one business to another between seasons and where waste from one business can be an input for another, hence creating rich synergies.
The BFBM project will ensure that income from the diversified sources will increase overtime and replace that from tobacco as show in the graph.
Projection of income (profitability) from tobacco-maize and Kroiler over 7 years (UGX, Years based on land available
In addition the value addition aspect for the maize component will provide the incentive to farmers because of its ability to create jobs through setting up small scale maize mills, potential markets, willingness and interest to procure the products will work as a motivation for the farmers to engage in the new enterprises. The project will build onto the existing social infrastructure in the communities and knowledge base of the farmers. On farm support including farm inputs, training, and credit, post-harvest management for preservation, value addition and marketing of the products will provide additional incentives. Based on the experiences, the intervention will be scaled up to include additional enterprises and new communities.