Reaping a Harvest of Change Makers in Uganda
Some plant, some water, some harvest. Roots Africa does all three.
After much sowing and tending, Roots Africa harvested yesterday. I wasn’t there when they sowed, but I’ve seen them tend. I wouldn’t have missed harvest for anything.
Cameroon-born Cedric Nwafor founded Roots out of the conviction that no one should go hungry.
“Despite Africa receiving 1 Trillion in aid, 60% of its population practicing agriculture, and an abundance of arable land, more Africans face hunger today than 10 years ago. If you let young people grow up hungry for food, knowledge, information, and resources, in general, it creates a generation of hungry, greedy, and violent people,” he’s said.
“Africa does not lack capital or resources. It needs Change Makers.”
The key to solving these problems, he says, is increasing farmers’ income by increasing their yield. It’s the springboard from which he and Roots work to train and empower Ugandan Change Makers.
Roots develops Change Makers through training, resources, and a global mentoring network. They, in turn, start businesses and influence Ugandan farmers to adopt resilient agriculture. The Sustainable Access Foundation, Roots notes, has contributed significantly by helping fund projects.
This year’s training cohort formed last February when of the 125 students who applied, 58 were accepted. Each student, in conjunction with Ugandan peer mentors, proposed projects, detailed plans, and requested budgets to bring their projects to fruition. Their plans were evaluated by mentors, experts in agriculture, who recommended approval and a modest amount of funding for each. Students met weekly (by Zoom) with their assigned mentor, peer mentors validated the existence and progress of the projects in visits (pre, mid, and post), and assessments were conducted to make adjustments and ensure project sustainability.
Tibenkana Denis is an inspirational Change Maker who, working with his mentor, has served as a peer mentor, and now, along with Elly Kasirye, oversees Roots’ Uganda program. Since he graduated he’s personally trained over 720 farmers. His interests are value-added agriculture, sustainable agriculture, record keeping, community leadership, mindset change and group dynamics, savings and credit, and systems thinking.
“Access to food is a fundamental right for all,” Dennis has said, “transcending politics, race, and ethnicity. Community success means having people who are independent, have a chance to grow by themselves, and can make any decisions they want for their lives.”
Yesterday, graduation featured a few of this year’s projects.
A Sustainable Agriculture Foundation-funded project to build an agro-processing facility and buy land
A successful prototype project to take organic waste and, using black soldier flies and their larvae, and turn it into fertilizer and livestock feed near Kampala, generating income for ghetto youth
A toll-free farmer’s call center that provides support, information on disease identification, agronomical practices, and sourcing quality chemicals, conducts outreach and training workshops in Wakiso District (which includes Kampala)
A radio program called Soil is the Bank Radio, a 30-minute radio program connecting farmers to markets and dedicated to promoting best practices in ag projection
“Africa doesn’t need charity to end hunger and poverty,” Cedric likes to say. “Africa needs Change Makers. So, to end hunger we nurture resilient agriculture. To end poverty we foster entrepreneurship.”
Congratulations to the 2023 graduating cohort. Each one of you, your peer mentors and expert mentors are amazing.
Oh, the things you’ll do!
PS Should you be interested in making a charitable donation to Roots Africa, please do. If you do, I can be proud of you too. And Uganda will benefit.