“We will practice FMNR forever”
March 31, 2016
Betty and Alfred Kabugo are farmers in the Kyakatono Kigweri Parish in Uganda. By practicing Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration with passion and determination they have transformed their farm and their communities’ attitudes towards the environment.
By Sarah McKenzie – World Vision Australia
In August 2013 Betty was selected to go on a visit to an FMNR learning site in Arawa, Northern Uganda. This visit was made possible by the World Vision FMNR East Africa Project, funding by the Australian Aid program. During this visit Betty was able to see a farm which, by practicing FMNR, was experiencing an increase in animal fodder and firewood as well as resilience to erosion and drought. She was taught the theory behind tree management and natural regeneration and trained in the techniques of pruning. It was a case of ‘seeing is believing’ for Betty and as soon as she returned home she began to prune the trees around their home. The only equipment needed was a machete, which she already had, and a willing heart.
She saw some results very quickly. By pruning shrubs and managing the area she saw a decrease in wild cats which would hide in the overgrown areas of her farm. These cats used to eat the family’s chickens and without this threat the chickens were able to breed and produce more eggs. As the trees grew they were able to sell the branches from pruning. At the start of 2015 they sold three small trucks of firewood at $125USD each. By pruning shrubs, and facilitating the growth of grass as animal fodder, they have seen their numbers of goats and cattle increase. Before August 2013 the family had 10 goats, they now have 40 goats and have been able to sell the goats they are not utilising. Since 2013 they have earned $400USD from goat sales and $530 from cow sales. This money has meant their children are able to go to primary school, secondary school and enrol in university courses such as electrical engineering, teaching and mechanical engineering.
Alfred, Betty’s husband, also began to see the benefits of FMNR. In 2010 they had received seedlings from the government, which they planted across eight acres of the farm but the harsh weather conditions meant they all perished. Since practicing FMNR they have strong healthy trees growing across all 10 acres of their farm. Even the young trees are growing strong. These trees have many different applications such as skincare, fruit, medicine, firewood, fence posts, charcoal and animal fodder. It is Alfred’s wish that the government would promote FMNR instead of seedlings that don’t grow.
For Betty and Alfred work wasn’t always easy and the initial pruning was quite labour intensive however now they have reached a point where they only need to prune every two to three months. Both Betty and Alfred agree that the effort was worth it. The positive results that Betty has experienced have inspired her neighbours and other famers in the parish – there are now 15-20 farmers practicing as a result of seeing Betty and Alfred’s farm. The World Vision staff members have continued to support Betty and learn from her successes.
Betty is a shining example of the way that FMNR becomes truly Farmer Managed and sustainable. Betty says she will practice FMNR forever, long after the FMNR for East Africa project has finished.