Zablone Ochene was forced from his home in Obalanga, north-east Uganda by the terrifying cattle raids of Karamajong warriors and the rebel fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
“When we finally came home, we had little left,” says Zablone. “In the refugee camps we were given food, but now our land was neglected and overgrown and I had nothing to feed my family.”
Signpost International has been working in this region of Uganda for the past couple of years, teaching traditional farming techniques to returning refugees, and providing them with tools, seeds and livestock. Zablone was able to join one of six farming co-operatives set up under this initiative.
Zablone was given sacks of cow pea and green gram seeds, disease and pest-free cassava cuttings, a hand hoe and machete – enough to plant at least two acres of land. Through his farming co-operative Zablone also received agricultural training: land selection and preparation, planting standards, post-harvest crop management and storage.
“When I received my seeds I did not know if the rains would continue, but I had the courage to plant them,” says Zablone. “And the rains continued and my plants yielded, so we are now enjoying our own green gram and cow peas!”
Zablone was able to use the plough and oxen given to his co-operative to plough more land and produce more crops. In fact the harvest was so good that he has stored enough food to feed his whole family throughout the dry season, with enough spare to sell at market.
“I take my crops to the market in my new wheelbarrow,” says Zablone. “The money I make, together with my goats, helps me feed my nine children and send them to school.”
“I can also pay for the seeds to plant next year myself, using the extra money I have saved.”
If you would like to help Signpost International help more people like Zablone, then please donate here.