UCA/EFTAF project lifts women out of poverty.
A testimony from Mrs Melithi Wakinya
When UCA started EFTAF project in July 2007, emphasis was put on increasing participation of women in
cooperatives to lift them out of poverty. Melithi is one of the women who participated in EFTAF project.
Before EFTAF, together with her husband, they practiced only crop farming. Their income was very low,
and they could not manage to send their children to school, she said.
It is true that bad beginning sometimes makes good ending. As any other farmers, Melithi started farming
under a community based organisation in 1999 and registered under Uganda’s farmers Federation but
yielded less. In February 2000, a number of women including Melithi came together after they had
experienced hard life in their homes for accessing necessary items like soap, paraffin, food etc. Fifteen
(15) members of them in Bududa came together and formed a group. It was named BUNABUTITI
TUBANA WOMEN’S GROUP. Bunabutiti meaning clan, Tubana means coming together. There and then
we elected the Interim committee and I was elected chairperson, Melithi says. Our activities mainly
focussed on agriculture. We had enterprises like banana management, coffee management, poultry and
horticulture (mainly in vegetables). We started receiving some little training on the above mentioned
enterprises on small scale. She says she took the lead in managing the enterprises as her husband is a
The group started to grow/expand as more people/members joined. In the year 2003, the group was
registered as a community based organisation (CBO) and joined FETAS project under Uganda
Cooperative Alliance. In 2006 they registered under Bududa ACE which also registered in UCA. While in
Bududa ACE, they started having so many benefits such as training in fish farming, bee keeping, wine
However, in her RPO, they passed an idea of forming special interest groups or study circle that is
whereby every member in the group is free to specialise in two (2) of three (3) enterprises depending on
his/her capacity in terms of management, capital, labour and they trained themselves in those
For Melithi is practicing integrated farming system (IFS) whereby in her small piece of land of about one
acre, she has specialised in banana management, piggery and fish farming as major enterprises. Bee
keeping, coffee management, horticulture (passion fruits), tree planting and poultry farming, are practiced
as complementary enterprises. IFS seem to be the possible solution to meet the continuous increase in
demand for food, stability of income and diverse requirements of food grains, vegetables, milk, honey,
meat, firewood etc., thereby improving the nutrition of the small-scale farmer like Melithi with limited
resources. IFS refer to agricultural system that integrates livestock and crop production in one piece of
In 2003, they registered under Bududa ACE under Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) as an RPO. It
was during this time that UCA called RPO chairpersons for training in practicing Integrated Farming
System within a small piece of land which she attended. Having been with that problem of land scarcity,
she embarked on the system immediately after the training in managing different enterprises and since
then, she has never turned back.
She started with banana management in 2003 and added on other enterprises gradually. For example,
she got involved in fish farming after she had gone for training organised by UCA. She started with one
pond and later constructed more two helped by UCA. UCA provided 3000 fingerlings in February 2010 for
the start and currently she has a total of three fish ponds with 7000 young tilapia fish. She expects to
harvest in December 2010 where each fish will be weighting a kilogram and each is expected to fetch sh
3,000, earning a gross income of 21 million shillings per year.
Melithi checking her banana plantation and passion fruits
In 2008, she started fruit farming, piggery and zero grazing. Currently she has 28 pigs and 10 piglets,
heifers and about 30 bee hives. She harvests 20 litres of honey from each of the three harvests annually
at sh 15,000 a litre. The bee hives are placed in her eucalyptus tree plantation where the bees easily get
the nectar for honey making. In practicing IFS, the whole of her acre piece of land is enclosed with a
hedge and it is on this hedge all around that she is growing her passion fruits.
Her eucalyptus tree plantation where she has the bee hives and a fish pond nearby
The integration of Fish with the Livestock and Crop has helped to improve on the fertilization of her
ponds, Melithi testifies. She said that Integration of different agriculturally related enterprises with crops
provides ways to recycle products and by-products of one component as input of another linked
component which reduce the cost of production and thus raises the total income of the farm. Multiple land
use through integration of crops, livestock and aquaculture can give the best and optimum production
from unit land area. In other words, Integrated farming system is a resource management strategy to
achieve economic and sustained production to meet the diverse requirement of farm household while
preserving resource base.
• Bananas-her farm has expanded from 1-2 acres and she harvests a bunch weighing 120 kgs
from the 30 kgs she was getting before.
• Fish farming- she started with one fish pond and after a training from ekitangala fish farms. She
constructed more two and they are all the three fully stocked.
• Piggery project for the start were ten bee hives and currently, she has 50 bee hives.
• Coffee management-she started with one acre and she has planted more 3 acres to make four
acres of coffee plantations.
• Poultry keeping- she has 100 local birds
Melithi praises UCA - EFTAF project for having trained her in integrated farming system where she has
managed to utilise her small piece of land for many enterprises which are doing well. This has helped in
way that some enterprises bi-products are the inputs of the others. Her eucalyptus trees have helped in
honey production whereby the bees collect nectar from the trees. The manure from her piggery and zero
grazing is used in her banana plantation and the passion fruits are grown on the fence around her one
acre piece of land.
Melithi says that out of her sales, she has got money, her food security has improved she has got what to
sell and the remaining goes for sale. She is able to pay school fees for her children and other
requirements. Two of her sons are in a boarding school and others are in private good day schools. She
continues to say that the farm is able to provide everything as far as balanced diet is concerned, milk,
eggs, fruits and honey are all available.
On the other hand, she says she has little honey saved in the SACCO after selling some of the farm
produce to cater for emergencies/sicknesses. Generally, the farm has become her source of employment,
However, she says that because of love towards her enterprises, hard work, and positive altitude plus
support from her husband and Uganda Cooperative Alliance, has made her successful and hence be
known in the area after the community seeing real things on the ground. She has been empowered and
elected as a flag bearer for women council Bushika to the district level on NRM ticket.
She concludes by encouraging women to work hard for the good of their families and the nation at large.