While other people contribute money for buying cows to slaughter for Christmas celebrations, Christians at St. Paul Kashenyi COU, Ishaka urban Archdeaconry, West Ankole Diocese, under their group, Kashenyi Tukwatanise, Twetunguure Association (KATTA) have made a difference. They contribute money, and buy a heifer for each member with the mind of improving household income. They have arranged it in a way that benefits members and surrounding communities.
KATTA was formed in November 2018 by a group of 14 members after finding that their community had challenges and solutions to these challenges were in their hands and minds. They believed that if their community was to improve to another level, it would start with them.
At that time, the Kashenyi community had been grappling with food insecurity, low income levels, malnutrition, and disunity, among others.
A common and shared mind of finding solutions to the highlighted challenges brought the members together to form a group that would in the near and distant future serve as an example to many.
According to Rev Canon Fred Bariira, the group Chairperson, who is the West Ankole Diocesan planner, they wanted to see their families get involved in income generating activities like livestock farming, thus introducing overgrazing.
Having been established at a local church, the group is composed of the clergy, army veterans, youth, widows, and civil servants.
“We mainly started with overgrazing because with cows, you are sure of manure which can be applied in crop growing like banana and others. We had wanted to acquire loans from Saccos, but later dropped the idea because of high interest rates. Our association would not make us pay interest rates. We agreed that each member pools 110,000 Uganda shillings per month where by 100000 is for self-help and 10000 is put into savings.,” says Bariira
The arrangement is that two members of the group get in-calf heifers each every after two months. They are looking forward to a time when the association will be a source of all heifer supplies in the region. They want each household to have at least 10 cows reared using a zero-grazing system.
Through this, the members believe they will improve household income, nutrition levels in communities, mostly where there are cases of malnutrition.
In January 2019, Mr. David Gumizamu, an army veteran and Mrs. Joy Bampigira, a widow became the very first beneficiaries of the new project in which they received in calf Friesian heifers, each valued at 1.3million. Other two members will get theirs this March.
Bariira says, they are lighting a lamp that will provide light to the world, so that all people can learn. He adds that the heifer component is a way of motivating members and other people to start such projects.
For easy management, KATTA has specific principles. For example, not everyone is allowed to join the group because they need a small number of members. The members have set requirements for one to join the group.
One must be a resident of Kashenyi ward, who is above 18 years, and has a steady income to be able to meet the obligation of pooling 100,000 per month.
“We visit each other and hold meetings in our families. Someone who stays outside Kashenyi will make it hard for us to go to his or her home when we want to visit them. Also, someone must be sure of income to be able to meet the monthly obligation.” Says Bariira
The group emphasizes unquestionable integrity and punctuality of the members, and each member’s family must be kept clean to be seen as an example.
Benefits and Achievements
The group has since its formation seen tremendous positive change. Each member boasts of having learnt a lot and there is no doubt that the objectives will be realized. People from other families have shown interest of joining the group according to the Chairperson.
“Positive results have already been realized, few months after the formation of the association because we have seen many families and people in the community express their interest in joining us. To us, this is an achievement. What would attract people to us if what we are doing wasn’t good?” he boasts
The association has instilled a spirit of team work through sharing of knowledge and advice on various fields of personal and group development. The shared knowledge has improved household development.
Mrs. Joy Bampigira says, the heifer she received in January has so far given her manure for her banana plantation and she will in the few months produce bigger bunches of bananas.
“My cow produces urine and dung, which I apply here in the banana plantation as manure. The project will go along way in empowering us economically. I have no regret that I joined this association,” says Mrs. Bampigira
Like other livestock farmers in the area, the association members have experienced a challenge of poor-quality inputs on the market like acaricides which have slowed down tick control and disease prevention.
They want government to put in place measures that will see fake farm inputs put under control before farmers can buy them. There is a complaint that even genuine inputs available on the market are very expensive for farmers.
Some members don’t have enough land that can accommodate a number of projects. This remains a challenge and might make them miss benefiting from new innovations.
There is another challenge of moral decadency in Kashenyi community where people most especially the youth don’t want to work and at the end of the day, they end up in hardworking farmers’ farms to steal the livestock. KATTA members have fallen prey to this moral decadency.
They have also faced a problem of lack of workers because the youth no longer want to work. Different youths shun work and opt to play pool in trading centers.
Nonetheless, KATTA members have moved on saying, the prevailing challenges are at the same time opportunities of growth and development.
The group has already looked at value addition. They are looking at a time when each member will be having more than four milk producing cows and they make different products out of milk.
“We want to have more people with many milk producing cows in this area. This will see us produce milk products and here, we shall also create jobs for community members.” Bariira dreams
The group members have prepared their respective children to take up the venture so that it can keep thriving. This they believe will make children and youth be “initiated” into the culture and maintain good families for good nation.
Their focus is also directed on making Kashenyi a model and center of agritourism, where people from various places will come to see what takes place.