“I have woken up to commercial farming”.
Ocan Joseph is a prime example of how, as we tell all the smallholder farmers we work with at GADC, farming can be a very successful business. By adopting good agronomic and financial practices, Ocan and many others like him are improving their own livelihoods as well as that of their families and communities.
When the war ended, Ocan had been working in Kampala for Eagle Air for more than five years. In 2010, he gave up his job and his life in the capital to return home to farm his ancestral lands in the Lamwo district of Northern Uganda. At this time, there were many training programmes being delivered to the hundreds of thousands of people returning to their conflict-stricken homes. Ocan enrolled immediately.
“I was trained to be a proper farmer by two programmes run by the Danish Refugee Council and Lutheran World Federation. They taught me the basics I needed to improve my agronomic practices, including timely planting and weeding.” After a successful season in 2010, he was able to reinvest his savings back into his farm, increasing his acreage and focusing on his most productive crops of sesame and cotton. “I signed up to receive regular training from GADC. They gave me more knowledge on how to farm, how to use animals for tillage and how to manage my finances.”.
Starting out with a single pair of oxen to plough his land in 2010, by investing in four cows in 2011 he has now extended his livestock to three oxen pairs and 17 cows. This enabled Ocan to till 16 acres of sesame alone last year. With his bountiful harvest he has sought to diversify his income stream by building a four-room house in the local trading centre for his family to live in and a second house for rental.
To protect his income from price fluctuations, Ocan continues to grow a variety of crops for both home consumption and sale. He also provides the services of his oxen to other farmers in his area for a small fee. Perhaps his professional experience has supported him to make such a success of his farming enterprise but Ocan does not see it this way, “I do regret it… My time as an employee was a waste! Instead, I should have been investing in my own land back then.”. With his booming farming business, he is certainly making up for lost time now.