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November 2007: International Partners

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Background of St. Jude Centre, Uganda

By Sandra Mardigian

            The St. Jude Centre in Masaka, Uganda, was started in 1986 by a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kizza, who were both teachers in Kampala at the end of the internal war that had devastated the entire country. With two piglets and 3.7 acres of land given thm by elderly family members, they set out to develop a farm. The piglets soon multiplied to 45 and were sold to buy a Freisian cow. The Kizzas’ careful nurturing enabled the cow to produce forty liters of milk per day, and local people began to come around to see how this was accomplished. The need in the community for farming education quickly became apparent to the Kizzas, and they began seeking out courses at seminars and workshops for knowledge to bring back home to their local farmers.
            Her husband passed away some years ago, but Josephine Kizza continued to manage the center and develop outreach to farmers, with the mission of “poverty eradification, especially for women, through organic farming.”
            The constitution adopted after the war under President Museveni is based on “devolution of power.” The country is divided into 56 districts, 168 counties, 885 sub-counties, and 4,451 parishes. Within the parishes, each village has a council that includes all persons eighteen years of age or older. One third of the members of the elected (every four years) executive committees at the parish and village level must be women. At each level, problems are solved, and decisions are made. If any decision needs assisted resolution, it is taken up to the next level for debate and resolution. In this model, a truly intractable subject or problem can go all the way to the president’s office.
            This devolution formula laid down by the government of Uganda is empowering to local people, and especially to women, whose leadership is encouraged. Josephine Kizza has made full use of this cultural advantage and has developed an educational center whose accomplishment is widely known, even in many farming communities in Kenya. St. Jude currently offers short training workshops as well as three-month residential training programs. In 1996, an astounding 15,000 famers were trained at St. Jude.
            Some of the concepts taught and encouraged at St. Jude are:

  • Organic resources management (return all animal and crop residues to the soil)
  • Mulching (to reduce weeds, conserve water and improve soil fertility)
  • Green manure options
  • Contour farming (to prevent erosion)
  • Plant and manure teas (fertilizer options)
  • Seed selection (for best farm output)
  • Integrated farm (water harvesting, animals, agro-forestry, crops—all towards the improvement and maintenance of soil fertility)
  • Solar cooking
  • Dairy goat husbandry
  • Water harvesting (roof and runoff harvesting)
  • Pig raising for market
  • Indigenous poultry keeping
  • Banana farming
  • Apiary for honey production
  • Fish pond (protein source and for market)
  • Vermiculture (worm farming for fertilizer)
  • Simple irrigation methods (drip, bottle, bucket, etc.)
  • Zero grazing
  • Produce processing plant (St. Jude buys crops from farmers and makes value-added products for marketing)
  • Portable gardens
  • Field trips to visit local farmers trained at St. Jude



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