From Subsistence to Growth

Vastin outside her home in Kagadi.

Vastin and her husband Mathias have been farmers all their life. With subsistence farming, they couldn’t produce enough to earn and save for a secure future for their children. “We mainly produced Cassava and didn’t have enough savings to rent or buy more land for farming,” Vastin said. Vastin and her husband weren’t alone; most families in their community shared the double burden of low agricultural productivity and lack of savings or credit to invest in farming. 

In July 2022, Vastin’s community partnered with Raising The Village, with support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC), to sustainably improve household incomes. As step one, Vastin and her community participated in technical training sessions on Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) to improve agricultural output. These sessions covered pre- and post-harvest management, applying organic fertilizers and pesticides, and other techniques to improve yield. Additionally, they received good quality, drought-resistant hybrid seeds with better yield potential. The changes were soon visible. 

Vastin inspecting the compost pits dug to create organic manure

Vastin planted beans and maize and harvested much more than she had earlier, resulting in increased income and savings. At the same time, the community formed a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) to save surplus income and pool resources. “I saved UGX 10,000 each week in the savings group and, after a year, was able to rent more land for farming from my savings,” Vastin added. 

The dual approach of increasing agricultural income and investing in VSLAs bore much better results for Vastin. “From the 2 acres of land I rented through my savings, I planted maize and beans and earned UGX 2,000,000. I was able to buy some land of my own from my income,” she said. Vastin and her husband now farm on their own land and produce maize, beans, and Irish potatoes.

Mathias preparing bricks for building a bigger house on their newly bought plot adjacent to their current home.

Their income and savings allow them to rent additional land to plant greater volumes when conditions are more favorable. Vastin and Mathias plan to build a new house and have already bought a plot adjacent to their current home. Vastin was recently elected as the village chairperson and is now actively involved in mobilizing the community members for various activities around good agricultural practices and operating their VSLA.

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Raising The Village (RTV) partners with last-mile, rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and develops holistic initiatives that pave the pathway out of ultra-poverty towards economic self-sufficiency within 24 months. Our programs focus on improving agricultural incomes through training and providing agricultural inputs, diversifying income streams, removing barriers to participation such as lack of access to health, water, financial inclusion, and food security, and promoting healthy behaviors including adopting healthy WASH and gender equity practices. Since 2016, we have impacted the lives of more than 665,000 people in last-mile villages in Uganda and increased household incomes and earnings by 138% in 24 months.