HANDS - Helping Agriculture 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 goals of the HANDS program are to:
Develop and improve the capabilities of community farmers by the use of demonstration gardens, educational seminars, and hands-on assistance with their own gardens.
Establish a commercial farming endeavor operated by ACT staff that financially supports the educational goals of the HANDS program, provides employment to community members, and raises funds to support other programs of ACT.
Initiate the formation of a farm cooperative for the production and sale of mushrooms in association with the Ugandan Mushroom Training and Resource Center in Kabale.