Iowa State University and Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, have teamed up to better the lives of subsistence farmers in Uganda.

“What you generally see is that people who get livestock are raising their standard of living,” says Max Rothschild, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture in animal science who leads the project for Iowa State. “The children are better fed, places are cleaner, they are better established. People have a little more hope.”

The goal is to place animals with 100 farmers, with 65 getting pigs and 35 receiving goats. The people who receive animals have been selected from 500 applicants in the Kamuli district.

Rothschild points out, the first step is for the farmers to build structures to house the animals. About 55 farmers are at that stage with the help of some matching funds.

The Monsanto Fund provided $100,000 for the two-year project, which is part of Iowa State’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods livestock component. The Center is partnering with Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns, a non-governmental organization, to oversee the project.

The grant pays for the animals, some feed and seed needed to grow additional feed. Seed is being distributed now to take advantage of the first rainy season of the year.

Rothschild said women are usually in charge of these farms, which consist of 1- or 2-acre plots. Some sell a portion of the crop harvest, but most of what they raise is used by the family. 

“These are the poorest of poor people. Pig and goat production is a way to save money, and produce cash for school fees or emergencies,” he says.

Deborah Patterson, president of Monsanto Fund, says her organization is proud to support Iowa State in this endeavor-- “They are helping to ensure a more sustainable future for subsistence farmers in Uganda and making a huge difference in their lives."

Source: Iowa State University