Jalamba Organic Processing and Training Centre
Jalamba Organic Processors and Training Centre (JOP) is a QSA project partner supporting and providing training in integrated organic agriculture to women in rural subsistence farming communities of Uganda's Mpigi district, approximately 70kms south of Kampala City. Their primary work is centred on the islands of Bunjakko and Busso on Lake Victoria, a region struggling with the effects of severe land degradation, water insecurity and contamination, poverty, high population growth, increasing rates of HIV/Aids infection and the effects of climate change.
JOP's executive director Ignatius Kakembo Ntambi with training staff
QSA's co-operation is a project currently underway, providing one year’s intensive training and one year of follow up support to 60 female farmers with the projected outcome of increased household food production, water security, fuel security and an increase in income production.
On his recent and first ever trip to Australia, the QSA office had the pleasure of meeting with Ignatius Kakembo Ntambi, JOP's executive director. After a day of seeing Sydney in the sunshine; a ride on the Manly ferry, a walk around Circular Quay and a discussion of Australian football, Ignatius offered QSA the opportunity of an interview to learn about the scope of the project and to hear about their latest progress.
Despite being located in the fertile crescent of Lake Victoria, damaging agricultural practice has led to significantly depleted soil quality and ever smaller agricultural yields. This, coupled with unreliable weather patterns, generalised poor farming practice and an increased occurrence of pest and disease outbreak, has meant that the island communities are living in what Ignatius termed “absolute poverty” which in turn has led to increased rates of malnutrition, particularly among children aged 2-5 years. Malnutrition rates have been further compounded by the only food available at market to supplement consistently low yield harvests being sold at impossibly high prices and of poor quality due to long transport times from the mainland.
Hence, the training offered by JOP in integrated organic agriculture, in conjunction with a period of residential training with QSA's project partner St Jude Family Projects and Rural Training Centre, has given farmers the hands-on skills to improve the conditions in which they are living and to make genuine provision for a more sustainable future. More specifically, the training offered provides benefits to these women farmers and their community, benefits which are as varied as they are wide reaching.
They include; compost making to re-establish nutrients into much depleted soils, water harvesting and sustainable irrigation methods to mitigate against periods of severe drought and diminish the severity of climate change effects in the region , making organic pesticides, reforestation practice in order to improve air quality and restore natural eco-systems, the opportunity to store seeds and harvest effectively in purpose built granaries, building of more sustainable stoves for cooking, and of course a boost to community health and wellbeing via improved diet and nutrient intake.
Jalamba's farm and training centre
During the course of our discussion, Ignatius made repeated reference to the simple, supported and positive changes that JOP was making “to bring a better quality of life to the islands”. It would certainly seem that the JOP team are stretching themselves continually to make this a true reality for those women who may previously have felt themselves to be living in circumstances of such limited opportunity. It was truly a pleasure to have had the opportunity to meet with Ignatius and to come to a better understanding of what important work is afoot for one of QSA's newer project partners.