I was fortunate enough to visit the northern part of Uganda this past week, specifically Gulu and the outskirts of Amuru. It was a long (six hours), bumpy and physically exhausting car ride. Half the distance of asphalt road is so old (or was so poorly constructed) that the sides have been chipped away to leave only a very middle lane of the road drivable before the road drops off 6 to 12 inches to dirt. It was a fun two hour game of chicken with oncoming traffic as we fought for the good lane.
Two hours west of Gulu is Amuru, where Omer Farming Company is newly established. Many devoted donors to Watoto Sustainable Agriculture found an opportunity to rent and farm 5,000 acres of land here. The land is owned by a man named Christopher and his family. His father had 12 wives, each having about 10 children a large family to say the least. The government wants to see the land productive, so having a company like Omer Farming come in is a win-win for Christopher and his entire family.
Christopher's brother's and three wives' cluster of huts.
It was such a joy to meet Christopher's family and see their cluster of huts. His mother was so joyful to see us and to see the work that is being done to the land already. The working of the land secures the family's ownership in the eyes of the government; they will be able to re-sign a 50-year lease. "Afoyo matek, afoyo matek, afoyo matek" the mother said over and over again. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Deciding that forming a company would be a smart move, they gathered investors and are currently breaking the land. Planting will be done by the mid-March rainy season. The hope is to have Omer Farming be a model for many more similar businesses, coming alongside the locals, renting land from them, teaching highly mechanized farming techniques, and transforming the area with employment, medical care, and more.
These siblings were thrilled to pose and see their picture taken.
Omer Farming Company will be a supporter of Watoto. Profits from the maize and soybean grown will go to the Watoto Child Care Ministry.
An interesting fact about the region around Gulu: Much the country's charcoal is manufactured here. Fires are nonstop around Omer's farms night and day at this time of the year.
Charcoal fires surrounded the farm, the livelihood of many in northern Uganda.