My original idea was to call this blog, 4 weddings and another wedding. In Uganda, Christmas time is the season for weddings, we’ve been invited to a lot, and very different to as I imagined…
The first thing I noticed is the time keeping of the event. It is perfectly acceptable to turn up and leave whenever you please. Although strange from a UK perspective it’s actually quite refreshing that they are so relaxed, no rushing stress for them! It stems from people’s work. If they are in the fields there is no urgency to finish work and get to the wedding, the food will still be served and there is no fear of disappointed stares from those who were on time.
Also a major difference in Uganda, a wedding is not over the course of an afternoon, they have the initial ceremony, then the give-away, followed by the wedding. Eventually they are married! An experience that I would recommend to anyone.
Christmas has been an interesting time, for me it is very much about family and meeting with relatives you have not seen in a while. However, myself and Jonny have been made to feel very much a part of a strong community and family, we were invited to our friend and employee Chris’s who thought it would be a good idea we bring a pig with us. (He would do the rest) When over 40 relatives turned up, an element of worry came over me that I would be going hungry. However, an excellent day surrounded by people who truly appreciated the gesture of pork. No presents were exchanged, just happiness, conversation and dancing, (and pork!) it was very refreshing.
Although everyone seems to shut down over Christmas, we still managed to get some work in. The farmers still need to farm and work must go on. We made a visit to Kyampara Sunflower cooperative. An organisation set up over 20 years ago by Martin Rowland. What’s really refreshing is how the organisation has continued to expand and grow covering a large area with many farmers growing sunflower for them. They have also managed to perfect the art of producing an excellent quality product. Their oil is incredible. One thing they certainly are not short of is demand, they make very little effort to advertise their product as people travel from a far to purchase it. The by-product, sunflower cake is also very popular, making great feeds for animals. From the outlook you would think they have a perfect set up / product. However there are underlying issues with the growing of their product. Although fetching a high price for farmers, receiving seed on credit and paying it back with their returns as well as the offer of pre-rented land, farmers are struggling with the ever growing challenge of bird scaring! Over the years this has put many farmers off, even though Uganda has the perfect climate, easy to grow, a good yield and return for the product, the underlying issue that birds simply love to eat the crop has deterred many farmers. Not only this, the cotton traders within Uganda have setup an ideal solution for these farmers offering machinery to plough their fields as an additional incentive to grow for them.
This opened up an idea and huge potential for Agri Evolve. If we can work in partnership, to supply machinery competing with the service offered to farmers by the cotton traders, as well as bird scaring facilities, we can convince a lot more farmers to grow sunflower. It is still early days but the cooperative are very interested in working in partnership with us.
These opportunities are opening up all the time. What is great to see for me is that these groups and operations are already in place and doing well, they are just missing a small piece of the jigsaw. Some organisations need more work and time invested. But for an organisation like Kyampara Sunflower cooperative, if they can grow their acreage of sunflower through offering a more complete service, then the demand is present and huge potential profits.
If you are interested in knowing more about Kyampara Farmers or potentially investing in the project, please get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading and Happy Christmas.