Steven Ssentongo is a 34-year-old father of seven living in the Ggulama Kigangazi, Masaka district, Uganda. He is a member of Aggali Awamu Dairy Farmers Cooperative, which is part of the broader East Africa Dairy Development project working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Before joining the Aggali Awamu dairy cooperative, Ssentongo could not meet his family’s basic needs. Purchasing basics like medicine, soap, salt and kerosene was often impossible due to his lack of steady income. He had purchased a cow, but was unfamiliar with dairy farming. His family struggled to find affordable medicine and veterinary services for their heifer.
Through the Aggali Awamu cooperative, he received education, training and the technical assistance and veterinary services needed to keep his cow healthy. He has doubled the milk production of his cow and now earns enough to cover basic needs, send his children to school and to start a savings account to one day buy more cows and expand his farm.
He said there is now more milk available for purchase in his village, increasing access to good nutrition for everyone. He has seen the more successful members of the dairy cooperative open kiosks or small stores where they sell a range of foods and household goods. The village now has a pharmacy, a government dispensary and three private medical clinics, improving access to healthcare. Ssentongo’s dairy cooperative has also created a village bank, owned by the dairy farmers, where members can set up savings accounts and access loans.
-Jennifer Wheary, World Ark Contributor
Ssentongo is just one small-scale farmer of many changing the face of the dairy industry in Uganda. Throughout 2014, we're celebrating family farmers and in the coming months will try to show you how they really can have a broader impact than previously thought. Read how the East Africa Dairy Development Program is creating a robust dairy industry in a region where fresh milk was once in short supply.