A life story on farm planning

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At 50, Janet is one of the most inspiring stories from Asuret Sub County, located just outside of Soroti Town. Janet joined Food Rights Alliance’s group of model farmers over a year ago to pilot the FRA/IDF farm planning model. Since then, Janet has never looked back. As required by this programme, Janet illustrated two sets of planning. She put to paper a pictorial of her current and desired farm plans, keeping in mind principles from the farm-plan model. Following the adoption of the farm planning system, Janet’s farming practices are thriving. During our latest visit to Asuret, we had the privilege of visiting Janet’s home and subsequently her farm.

 

At the start of this exercise, FRA contracted a consultant to determine farmers’ land size, soil profile and availability of other natural resources as these may influence the farmers’ farming activities. After an assessment of Janet’s land, the consultant concluded that the current positioning of her garden and house where not suitable for farming. The consultant further concluded that the land on which Janet planned to place her garden was infertile. This infertility was attributed to the land being rocky, characterized with a lack enough soil nutrients that would make it impossible to grow crops. She was further advised that the most fertile area on her land suitable for growing crops was the area on which her house was built.

 

During our visit to Janet’s garden 6 months later to document her progress, we were shocked to discover that Janet hadn’t only taken the advice to heart, but to practice.

 

With the piece of information she gathered from the consultant, Janet broke down and rebuilt her home on the rocky area, leaving the area that once held her home, to be her garden. Janet stated during our visit that she has never looked back since.

Today Janet plants citrus, cassava, potatoes, green vegetables, sim-sim, groundnuts, maize, and sorghum in her planned garden. Among these, she sells sim-sim, groundnuts, maize, and citrus, and saves the cassava, potatoes, maize and sorghum for . household food consumption. Among the benefits Janet identified since she started using the farm planning methods, was the reduction in food wastage by her family. As Janet recounted that before, her family used to harvest and store food with no system for separating what to sell and what to eat. This she noted, often led to food going bad in the store which they would eventually throw away.

 

“Farm planning helped me plan for the food I was producing. Now, we come out of the garden with a specific portion of food to sell and to eat” she said.

However, Janet’s journey has not been all roses. Among the challenges she faces is the problem with heavy rains during the rainy season coupled with excessive drought during the dry season, which causes water-harvesting challenges. This has ultimately led to food wastage, as most of her small vegetables have dried up due to the lack of water and the extreme dry weather. Through this system, Janet is determined to see her family out of poverty and food insecurity. She has a vision of constructing a bigger store in her homestead specifically for storing her food for sale.