Iowa Women Farmers Have Opportunity to Help Counterparts in Uganda

AMES, Iowa--Iowa women farmers have a rare opportunity to help women farmers in Uganda by volunteering to work with Iowa State University’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), ISU Extension and VEDCO – Volunteer Efforts for Developmental Concerns, a Ugandan non-government organization. Iowa volunteers will spend approximately two weeks in Kamuli District working directly with smallholder farmers. They will share knowledge, experience and market bases, and demonstrate ways to enhance nutrition. The effort is funded by a $100,000 U.S. AID grant administered through Weidemann and Associates.

“Poverty is widespread in Uganda, particularly among households that depend on agriculture,” said Mary Holz-Clause, associate vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach and grant principal investigator. “Iowa State University, through the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CRSL), and VEDCO have partnered with smallholder farmers to develop and strengthen their knowledge and technologies for improved production. We are excited to involve Iowa women with farming expertise in this project.”

Iowa women actively engaged in farming who have an interest in traveling to Africa and assisting Ugandan women improve their farm business management should consider volunteering. “This is an opportunity to volunteer in a teaching role and experience a new culture,” said Linda Naeve, project co-director. “Volunteers need to be able to walk two to four miles in a day, at least one mile without tiring, and have a valid passport.”

Volunteers will travel to Uganda for one period of 10 to 12 days in 2011. Travel periods will be in one of the following months: March, August or November. All travel expenses from Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Omaha, Neb., Kansas City, Mo., or Minneapolis, Minn. to Uganda and back will be covered. No compensation beyond travel expenses will be allowed. Full medical and liability coverage during the project will be provided. 

Volunteers will be based in Kamuli, a town in the Kamuli District of Uganda, approximately 75 miles northeast of the capitol, Kampala. Volunteers will be housed in a group house, managed by VEDCO staff with support from CSRL. All meals will be provided on-site.

Teams will work with an interpreter to interview Ugandan women farmers and provide input to help enhance their farm’s profitability. One project will help Ugandan farmers develop detailed farm descriptions and net worth statements so they can access commercial loan funds. Volunteers also will gather information about key crops and livestock, including their potential for improvement, expansion and further economic development.

For more information, contact Margaret Smith, project co-director, ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program at or 515-290-4456. To apply for a volunteer position, go to and download an application. Submit completed application as an e-mail attachment to Margaret Smith at Application deadline is Jan. 31.