HANDS - Helping Agricultural New Development and Sustainability
HANDS has a team in Uganda and a team in the US comprised of experts in agriculture, horticulture and science, working together to advance the goals of the program.
Most of the people in the remote rural region of Muko sub-county are subsistence farmers, that is, they grow the food they need for survival themselves. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that 50% of the region lives in poverty with 10% living with poor nutrition, near famine.
Some key issues in agriculture are soil erosion, degradation and depletion, land fragmentation, a high labor to productivity ratio, a disproportionate reliance on labor from women, poor cooperation, lack of information on agricultural value chain and abuse by agricultural brokers and middlemen, and insufficient knowledge of plant disease control and sustainable agricultural practices.
As there are few opportunities for other employment in the area, farmers also need opportunities to produce products that will put cash in hand.
The main outcomes of the HANDS program are:
Develop and improve the capabilities of community farmers by the use of demonstration gardens, educational seminars, and hands-on assistance with their own gardens.
Improve individual health by providing a variety of nutritional food crops produced in sustainable family gardens.
Enhance food security in the community.
Will Buckner, from Austin, TX, came to Muko to work with ACT as a Peace Corps volunteer in August of 2018. He has been assigned to the HANDS program and has been instrumental in introducing perma-gardening and other Peace Corps initiatives with the Muko farmers.