Transforming Ugandan Farmers (TUF)
TRANSFORMING UGANDAN FARMERS (TUF) was created in partnership with the SRCCF by Joe and Nathalie Schmidt of Ottawa, Illinois to specifically support education, hands-on learning, equipment and supplies to train individuals in agriculture, particularly farming. For many years, the Schmidt family, friends, and colleagues have worked tirelessly to support the poorest of the poor in the Kamwenge District of Uganda. Not only have the Schmidt’s, and a number of caring fellow travelers, visited the District on several occasions, they have made significant financial contributions of money, supplies and manpower to help the residents there learn the skills required to become a sustainable community. Their Ugandan partner, Innovations for Transformation Initiative (ITI)** is a non-governmental organization (NGO), which is a registered Ugandan charitable organization and similar to non-profit organizations in the United States.
In 2021, Joe and Nathalie created TRANSFORMING UGANDAN FARMERS (TUF), an initiative that has already resulted in more than 125 residents receiving the resources and training required to become successful farmers. The training program is led by a Ugandan agricultural educator, and the results have been remarkable. The initiative is overseen by ITI and continues to grow as a result of the generous contributions of caring donors to TUF.
In December, 2022, the Designated Fund for TUF was established with the SRCCF. Financial contributions to the Fund are restricted as follows:
1. Transforming Ugandan Farmers Project - restricted to solely benefit the TUF Project.
2. General Fund – grants will be directed to specific projects, programs, and services within the Kamwenge District of Uganda that directly impact the farming community.
Your donation to Transforming Ugandan Farmers (TUF) is encouraged and most welcome! The SRCCF accepts contributions of cash and/or marketable securities from individuals as well as from trusts, wills, public and private foundations, or other donor advised funds. Financial contributions are released as needed from our local bank to the ITI organization via international banking channels as required by both US Federal laws and Uganda banking laws.
**INNOVATIONS FOR TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVE (ITI), established in 2007, resulted from the need to empower disadvantaged young people and poor households neighboring Uganda’s protected areas by boosting their economic capacity and living conditions through access to basic education, health care and alternative sources of income for sustainable livelihoods. The goal is to conserve biodiversity and ensure environmental sustainability and to ensure that poor households are self-sufficient and have access to basic services and infrastructure. ITI believes in investing and working with the poor to develop themselves so that together they can create the enduring change that they all envision. ITI is a community based non-governmental organization, registered in Uganda. They work in poor communities adjacent to protected areas such as natural forests, water bodies, national parks, game reserves, major rivers and swamps which are at risk of devastation because of human activities.
ITI’s focus is to bridge the gap between the young and old, marginalized and the privileged, the haves and the have-nots, the sick and the healthy, the harassed and the favored, the rich and the poor, through enhancing social justice, gender equality, social inclusion, and participation of minority groups, promoting exchange of information and best practices through vocational training, research, education and building strategic partnerships within and outside Uganda.
Words from Joe and Nathalie…
"Our partnership with ITI began in 2012 as our family began traveling with Ottawa Mission Leaders and our friends, Debbie Damron & Dianne Jamison, as they led those interested to sponsor families and projects in Uganda through ITI. Our partnership with ITI and the Ugandan people grew and many trips followed. Joe’s first trip in 2019 inspired him to see the need to help local Ugandan Farmers improve from subsistence farming to successful farming. With the partnership of ITI and our Agronomist Peter Baguma, TUF began training and supporting 60 farmers and their families by simply giving them education of better agronomic practices and inputs like seed and fertilizer. As we saw success, another 60 farmers were added to the project. As we approach end of year three in 2023, TUF will graduate the first group of 60 farmers and a new group of 60 farmers will be added, continuing the mission of this project. The success of TUF has been amazing, not only for the farmers that have gone through it, additionally for the families and the communities they are a part of. It has made them stronger, thriving and TRANSFORMED."
A Message from James…
Meet Mr. James Bahisha, He is a 53 year old farmer and married to Mushabeyesu Espelanse with four children. He belongs to Rugonjo Farmers Association, one of the farmer groups under TUF project in Kamwenge District. He is passionate about crop farming and has done farming for the last 20 years. TUF project has made great changes in his farming life for the last one year.
In James' own words, June 2022; " I have been doing farming on 3 acres of land only to get food for my family, we grow beans, corn, Irish and sweet potatoes, cassava and some vegetables, we have had many challenges for a long time related to farming that we didn't know, for example, we have been using our traditional seeds from the previous harvests who's maturity period is unknown and with poor performance, we used to burn the old crop residues in the name of improving soil fertility with ash, intercrop many crops in the same fields, for corn, plant like 10-15 seeds per hole or sometimes broadcast seeds in the garden, we didn't know anything about fertilizer use and our soils would get exhausted without knowing. When Peter from ITI started training us on good farming practices, we started planting improved seeds bought from Fort Portal and Kamwenge Town and planted in rows, 2 seeds per hole with a measured spacing, used the old crop residues for mulching other fields and started using fertilizer like DAP and easy grow, for the last two seasons, we were able to realize incredible changes in terms of crop yields especially in corn and beans. Recently, we expanded our farming area from 3 to 6 acres by hiring more land using profits from the previous harvests, we produced much more than we could consume at home even though we were hit by bad weather conditions. We were also able to pay school fees for our children in time without struggling. We expect the yield to double this time due to good weather conditions.
We are grateful to Peter Baguma and ITI for the support.
Joe and Nathalie Schmidt found a calling more than 7,700 miles away. The couple went on mission trips organized from Ottawa to the East African nation of Uganda. There, Joe and Nathalie, who farm in rural Ottawa, were struck by the lack of modern farming techniques utilized by its citizens. In that 2019 trip, Joe saw farmers who wanted to work hard and provide their families and community with food. He knew if he could share some of the knowledges and resources he’s had in his career with Ugandan farmers, their yield would be substantially better and feed more people. “I think that’s why God put us there,” Joe Schmidt said. “The farmer in me, I was struck by how poor the crops were growing. I started asking questions.”