Wambuzi with his children at one of his homes in eastern Uganda. Copyright: WFP/Lydia Wamala
Gramsen Wambuzi wears a simple, loose-fitting cotton shirt and, unlike many Ugandans nowadays, does not own a cell phone. However, he lives a comfortable life with an apparently secure future, thanks to WFP's support through Purchase for Progress.
A right turn off a dusty unpaved road leads to Gramsen Wambuzi’s farm in eastern Uganda. On all sides can be seen green vegetation and small brick houses. And then you come upon a two-acre plot of dry maize plants at a village called Bunyama.
There, under the blazing sunshine, Wambuzi, his 24-year-old second wife, Sauda Nkazekyo, and others hurry to gather the harvest. They cut down one maize stalk at a time, and rip off the cob. They then tear off each shriveled shell and hurl clean cobs into large plastic containers.
Wambuzi has two homes, two wives and eight children. “This is my last born, Sudayisi,” he says, stroking the two-year-old’s half-shaven head. Afterwards he jokes that Sudayisi resembles Moses Balikowa, a fellow farmer who stands under a tree close by. Balikowa laughs.
WFP’s support to smallholders
Wambuzi, 42, has been selling maize for three years through the 450-member Nakisene Adult Literacy Group. The group, which started with an education mission, now sells maize to WFP and other buyers in places as far away as Kenya.
Besides providing a quality market, WFP supports the group’s training in post-harvest handling and marketing under Purchase for Progress. And, WFP encourages the group to take advantage of the warehouse receipts system in nearby Jinja town.
Benefits from selling to WFP
“Before I started selling maize to WFP, I sold a crude product with stones and dust,” says Wambuzi. “I sold to anyone who came along and at a low price.”
But now because WFP insists on high quality and it is the group’s biggest buyer, Wambuzi and others are striving to improve their product. Their maize is processed in the town of Jinja. WFP pays a premium price for the highest-grade product.
“We are also happy selling to WFP because it pays a lump sum.”
Wambuzi has made other investments from the money he has saved. His groceries shop does not boast much – just sweets, toothpaste, bananas, eggs and other small things. But he rears many chickens, which lay eggs daily. Also, he owns a motorbike which provides taxi services and earns him more than US$4 a day. With this money he buys milk for his children.
He has also used his maize earnings to plant four acres of pine trees. “This means I'll have income later on when I am old,” he says.“People here look on me as a rich man but I'm not really".