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“Out of the money I got from the sale of soybean, we managed to buy a pair of oxen and ox-plough that greatly improved our level of production and income.”

Layet Lilly Watmon, 37, and her husband Fred, 42, have 7 children. They are members of the Kicar Ber Farmers Group in Paicho sub county, Gulu District.

The farmer group started with only 15 women in 2015 with the aim of improving food security, health, education, household income, and livelihoods. Now, the group has 30 members (20 women) where 11 are youth.

Previously, Watmon’s family could only afford to cultivate only one acre of land using hand hoes to grow cotton and tobacco for income and cassava, beans, groundnuts, millet, and sesame for home consumption. The income from cotton and tobacco was little – about UGX 250,000 (USD 67.5) in one planting season – and is not enough to support the family’s needs. To cope, they would send only three children to school while the others stayed at home.

IIRR, in partnership with The Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, oriented the Kicar Ber Group members on oil seed production. IIRR trained the farmers how to improve their planting methods (soybean, groundnuts, sesame, and sunflower), post-harvest handling skills, and linkage to markets.

In early 2018, Fred and Layet planted soybean on two acres of land where they harvested 1,217 kilos, earning UGX 2,068,900 (USD 559). The couple used the money to acquire a pair of oxen and a plough to ease cultivation. In the second season, they cultivated seven acres of land and yielded 3,940 kilos of soybeans, earning an income of UGX 6,304,000 (USD 1,703.78).

“Our lives greatly improved. We used part of the money to construct a semi-permanent house and now all our children are getting quality education, good medication, and meals,” Layet shares.