Agro-forestry and Food security

Agroforestry can transform lives and landscapes. Trees and shrubs grown on farms provide fruit, timber, fuelwood and livestock fodder. They also improve soil fertility, regulate water supplies and help farmers adapt to changing climatic conditions. Our dream is to see lots of trees in every garden in the villages.
 
Our reforestation programs focus on establishing and maintaining tree nurseries, educating communities about the positive environmental impacts of reforestation, and strengthening economic development, both through conservation and the responsible management of forest resources. We work with existing local groups, schools, and communities in extremely low-income rural areas to providing guidance on how to plant, graft, and maintain their trees.
 
Olaforent in an effort to reduce the poverty levels and sustain the environment in Olilim and Katakwi District at large is putting innovative strategies in place.  
Forest resources worlwide are under threat more so in the developing countries where the majority of people depend of trees as a source of energy for cooking in terms of fire wood and charcoal.  In order to curb this vice without impacting negatively on the community, Olaforent intends to undertake the following approaches:Oxen ploughing
  1. Develop and promote improved techniques for production, harvest and post-harvest of Agro Forestry products.  This approach aims to ensure the supply of quality products in sufficient quantities to sustain growing markets, without depleting the natural resource base.
  2. Develop adequate organisational mechanisms and arrangements to improve the integration of poor farmers in groups.  Main activities developed under this output are:  

(i)   analysing value chains in order to identify actors, costs, benefits, opportunities and constraints related to the marketing of the product

(ii)  strengthening producers and traders so they can engage in collective action and link up with each other; and

(iii) develop and test financial mechanisms to overcome some of the barriers that both producers and traders face when wanting to increase their participation in value chains.

(iv) Put arrangements in place to strengthen linkages between actors in the value chain by organizing and training producer groups to increase their bargaining power and management skills with a view to organizing group sales. 

(v)  Make contact with traders of targeted products in main markets with a view of linking them with collaborating producer groups. 

  3.  Establish a community-based market information system. The market of Agor-forestry products in Uganda, as in many other African countries, is characterised by incomplete market information and this has two objectives:

(i) to improve the functioning of the markets because of better information leading to enhanced power of negotiation by producers, broader choices for consumers and better flow of products for traders; and (ii) to provide deeper understanding of the markets for decision makers. Taking into consideration the needs of the various actors contacted, a system thought appropriate and more adapted to the needs of direct beneficiaries was developed and is currently under evaluation in a number of project sites.

This system makes use of relay organizations as major focal points for information exchange. On the supply side, producer groups diffuse information on quantities and quality of the product available in their area to the relay organization and propose a selling price.

On the demand side, individual traders, or trader associations where they exist, send to the same relay organization information on quantities of products they are willing to buy and propose a buying price.

The role of the relay organization is to facilitate the gathering of information on both sides and to facilitate linkages between these actors to debate on the price.

It is however expected that with time, producers and traders would have established strong relationships and would be able to communicate directly with each other to exchange market information, eliminating the role of the relay organization.

   4.  Analyse policy and institutional context and develop policy guidelines to create an enabling environment for cultivation and commercialisation of Agro-forestry    products. This is a very crucial element for the success of the project as it is widely known that external factors largely affect the outcomes of marketing efforts of small-scale farmers in rural areas. 
 
   5.  Training and dissemination of information to bring the benefits of this project beyond the scope of contact farmers and pilot zones. Activities under this output                 focus on the need to build rural actors’ capacities to access knowledge, technologies and information related to tree domestication and Agro-forestry products       marketing; and adapt these to their respective social, cultural, political and ecological environments.
        Apart from the organisation of training sessions at different levels in the value chain, activities under this output include the development of learning material in the           form of technical leaflets, videos on different propagation and cultivation techniques and other publications.
 
The aim is to incorporate valued agroforestry tree species in the landscape, producing products that are in high demand in markets. In doing so, tree resources are conserved, biodiversity is enhanced, agricultural systems become more sustainable and farmers get more income through diversification and specialization, thus improving their livelihoods, particularly women farmers.
 
Currently, the project is working with about 100 households gathered in 10 producer groups. The action focuses on Rural Resource Centers where groups of farmers, in many cases women groups, come together centred around a nursery where a number of key species are multiplied at large scale through seedlings, cuttings, grafting and marcotting.
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The project not only addresses production but also every aspect of the value chain, including post-harvest, processing and marketing, as well as policy and institutional aspects of agroforestry production.
 
Marketing actions focus on collective actions with producers and traders for better market information and group sales. This is also new and income via group sales has already been increased substantially, thus encouraging them to increase production and sales.

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