Before the Project: Before beginning my farming business, I had to take on various jobs in order to give my family the best life possible. I was unsatisfied with this fragmented work because nothing resembled a serious profession and I felt very unstable. I liked the idea of agriculture because it is good, honest, and hard work. With the help of my uncle I began growing greenhouse vegetables. In our area I did some small-scale consolidations with other farmers and due to my central location, I naturally became the leader of an informal group of 7.
Project Activity: UHDP staff asked me to be a lead farmer because of my experience leading my small group. With the help of the Project we installed a cold-storage unit and a Measurement Information System (MIS) on my property, for the group. The Project found traders for us to work with, and since then I have maintained these relationships. Traders now come directly to me and say how much produce they need and how it should be packaged. Then I communicate that back to the group, and organize the collection and sale.
Outcome: Thanks to the Project I have one full time job and I am able to work in a professional way. Now, I negotiate with traders and actively facilitate my group’s consolidation. The MIS not only allows me to predict adverse weather conditions, but it also lets me see up-to-date market prices, helping me track my sales and plan for optimal efficiency. I have doubled my crop area, tripled my income and I can provide a stable quality of life for my family. My group of 7 farmers has grown to 30. This keeps me very busy giving consultations and coordinating activities. Also, I really appreciate the monthly Project newsletters; I keep them in a library that I often refer to. Thanks to the newsletters, I can apply the latest planting and care techniques to my crops, I stay informed about future opportunities in agriculture, and I use them as a theoretical base for discussions with Project agronomists. Most importantly, thanks to the UHDP I have found a meaningful a sustainable livelihood. I now consider myself a medium sized farmer, which makes me feel confident about the future of my business. I see real potential in agriculture and my successes to date have inspired my son to study agronomy. I am proud of my profession because:“Agriculture is a good, honest and meaningful profession; we farmers will not be out of work as long as people need to eat!”