When the Cents for Seeds staff are out in the villages, their days can be very busy and ultimately – long. On the Cents for Seeds team, there are a few roles, all filled by local Ugandans. They are:
- Love Mercy Uganda’s Programs Manager
- The Project Coordinator
- The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
- Village, savings and loans (VLSA) trainers
Each role is as important as the other and work together as a whole to ensure the project is running efficiently. This includes engaging group leaders, training and supporting farmers, ensuring the women have further access to programs such as VSLA and working so the program is having the greatest impact.
For this particular day, we’re going to follow Betty, one of the team’s agronomists.
Driving along the bumpy, red dirt roads, Betty will travel upwards of an hour to one of the Cents for Seeds communities. Some of these communities are in the most rural areas that only the locals know the way to. The drive is made easier by good music and the team always, there to make her laugh!
Once reaching the village, Betty will spend roughly 3 hours with the community – women, Mothers, Grandmothers lots of children and some men too.
This is their main agronomy training. They already have a base knowledge of how the project works and what they can expect. She’ll educate them on what crops they are receiving and how to get the best possible harvest. These seeds are specific for the northern Ugandan soil, which can even vary from district to district. Betty explains how to plant their crops, tend to them, and how to harvest, and how to take care of the land in the off-season. Many of the community know these things already, but additional information from a qualified agronomist like Betty is incredibly helpful.
Betty will teach them about pests, not only the ones they need to be concerned with in Uganda as a whole but also those that are specific to that local area. A local leader will support her in this lesson and together they’ll educate the women on how best to combat these pests. Betty even draws images on a big piece of paper so that the information is very clear!
Western world farms more often than not have fences to deter livestock and some pests. In Uganda, there are some fences but livestock should be monitored throughout the day to prevent them destroying the crops.
Before this point, a few group leaders have already been engaged by the Love Mercy Staff. They are introduced to the community and their role is explained. They are responsible for supporting the people in their direct group, passing on any significant problems to the Love Mercy team, and mobilising the community when meetings happen. They often walk around on foot to make sure everyone in their group can make the next project meeting.
After this training is complete, Betty and some more of the team will return to the village. On this day, the women will receive their seed loans! The whole Cents for Seeds process is covered again by the Love Mercy team to ensure that everyone is clear on what will happen over the next year or so. It’s also when they will receive their hoe- the tool they will use to tend to their crops. This is an incredibly busy day for the staff as each woman is registered, given a number, had her photo taken (to best ensure no mix-ups for redistribution) and marked off as having received her tool. In one day, staff can register hundreds of women, often having to come back and do another day at the village to ensure all the women are ready to go. This distribution process can take up to 5 weeks depending on the number of individuals in the project.
Our team work incredibly hard to operate Cents for Seeds, ensuring that all 17,800 women are trained, supported and given absolutely every opportunity to get the most out of the opportunity you’ve helped fund.