Milling for a Better Future
Edson dropped out of school at the age of 14 to engage in subsistence farming with his parents to support his struggling family. Fifteen years later, as a father of four living in Kibarama village, Rukungiri District, Edson still relies on subsistence farming to support his household. During prolonged dry seasons, the family is at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
Uganda is home to the world’s youngest population, with 75% of the population below the age of 30. The growing youth population in Uganda offers a tremendous opportunity for the country’s future, but also puts pressure on the education and health resources that remain limited for the youth in last-mile rural communities.
Youth living in ultra-poverty often end up with poor-quality education and are more likely to drop out, resulting in several young people with limited employable skills. This perpetuates the cycle of ultra-poverty for them and the generations to come.
Raising the Village prioritizes engaging young people to break the cycle of ultra-poverty by building their skills, sharing tools and resources, creating opportunities for community leadership, and setting the foundation for their future growth. In Edson’s village, RTV piloted a project to support vulnerable community members by providing milling machines to process maize, millet, and cassava after harvest. This project was introduced in addition to RTV’s core programs and is expected to further add value to their agricultural produce as well as develop new skills, and create additional community-driven income-generating activities.
“For us who are farmers, we understand the importance of this milling machine. We used to walk long distances to get to the nearest milling machine. Now we have one in our village and all members of our community benefit from it.”
Edson is now also working as a Milling Machine Operator at Bulama Cluster Milling Machine in Kibarama Village, where he can engage in good post-harvest handling, support his community by offering a critical service, learn new skills, and earn additional income to work towards his goals.
The participating group members received training and technical support to effectively run this project, and they are working together towards their goals through the milling machine Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).
“In a month, during harvesting season, our machine mills about 400kgs of rice for UGX 400,000 ($123) and 150kgs of maize for UGX 350,000 ($99). This money is saved in our savings group and part of it is used for fueling and repairing the machine. I also receive a small monthly allowance to operate the machine.”
Edson continues to learn, grow, and work towards his dream of starting his own business in the future.