In Eastern Uganda, in Budaka District The Village Enterprise Foundation Organisation (VEFO) launched a new project over the summer funded by ITF’s Sustainable Community Forestry programme. ‘Building Entrepreneurial Skills in Tree Nursery Management’ will support six tree nurseries to become small business entities over a year, aiming to raise 170,000 seedlings for the local community’s needs. Tree seedlings are in high demand in the local villages, where subsistence farming is the main economic force. However, there are few quality tree nurseries. And this is precisely what makes the area a promising market for the new start-up tree nurseries that VEFO is helping to develop.
Martins Waliwulya is VEFO’s Project Coordinator. He shares some of the stories of those involved in their work in 2015, in a project called “Skilling Rural Communities through Integrated Tree Planting”. 5,600 people acquired basic skills in tree planting and tendering practices, and tree nurseries were established as a focal place where people could learn about seedlings and tree planting. Almost 20,000 people in total were pro-actively involved in project implementation and monitoring. Here are some of their stories.
John Chris Okiror and Suzan Tasumba’s Family Tree Nursery
John Chris Okiror, Suzan Tasumba and their 7 children live in Kaberai village. They take tremendous pride and pleasure in the immaculately managed tree nursery in their compound. From June to October 2015 they sold about 23,000 seedlings, and still maintain a good range of fruit and ornamental trees, as well as the popular indigenous species Musizi (Maesopsis eminii), also known as the Umbrella Tree. Musizi is used for poles for building and timber, and grows fast making it a useful tree for reforestation. Despite the success of their business, John Chris Okiror and Suzan Tasumba acknowledge that most farmers demand is still for Eucalyptus, which has negatives environmental effects particularly due to the large amount of water they require. Clearly the family have green fingers! They appreciate their tree nursery as a domestic enterprise and source of income.
Augustus Kungu, Teacher and Part-time Entrepreneur
Augustus Kungu is a teacher in Kadenge parish. He was among the few selected farmers to be trained by the project in 2015. For Augustus, nursery bed management is not a full time engagement but part-time activity alongside his teaching that brings in some extra money. “Nursery work is easy as I am able to go and teach in the morning, attend to my gardens and tether my goats, and then later attend to the nursery bed initiative”.
“I am proud and grateful to my family, who have been helpful and supportive in the nursery bed management. With the skills and knowledge gained I will continue on annual basis. Next year, I plan to move my nursery beds to a location with a secure water source”.
In 2016, VEFO will develop and scale up these success stories by supporting young people to start managing nurseries as business entities for sustainable income and livelihoods. These businesses will supply an adequate source of tree and fruit seedlings for the rural community in their localities. The selected young model farmers will be empowered with skills and knowledge to manage their nurseries as small businesses. They will produce quality seedlings that will be sold at affordable prices. VEFO will oversee, monitor and supervise these model farmers for two years, enabling them to adapt and improve their nursery bed management skills over time. Following the two years, they should be independent nursery owners.
This project was made possible by funding from Worktop Express.