Dear Gen Z — the entire collective of you across TikTok, YouTube, and other Gen Z hives — globally:
You are the generation that can do anything. And you are undoubtedly the most socially-conscious generation ever.
And while it is nearly impossible for humanity to accept people like me, it is already evident that you, the Zoomers, are into social justice and human equality, than any other generation before.
Similarly, while all previous generations have largely looked at things like ending global poverty through very rigid, conventional (top-bottom) approaches and red tape, you, the Zoomers, are by contrast the most easy-going, and the most flexible humans to ever live.
For this reason, I have some favor to ask of you, the Gen Z collective across the world:
Where I live, poverty is rife. Poverty is beyond words.
Personally, I happen to be one of those people who are only emerging from the damnedest forms of poverty, and the finest servings of hunger, that you can ever think of.
I really want to see some lasting change. And I wouldn’t like my own ordeal to be in vain. Somehow, I also believe the only way global poverty can end, is by putting the extreme poor, i.e., those of us at the very bottom of the pyramid, directly at the helm of ending extreme poverty.
I am asking you, the Gen Z collective across the world, to help me create only one lasting solution to stem the unending cycle of poverty in my region. Help me do this, Zoomers. Help me accomplish the impossible.
Let’s create something that will leave an indelible mark on the grip of poverty in a rather impoverished, remote rural corner of the planet, and something that you guys will be able to look back on, long after your Zoom years are gone.
Most importantly, let’s erect this solution as a team, and let’s handle every penny together, from start to finish.
[ See details at the very bottom of this page ].
My name is Anthony, a farmer here in eastern Uganda.
My whole life has been defined by chronic poverty. But most importantly, nearly every household in my region lives in extreme poverty. I really want to change this.
See my own personal story here. Or see my writings in [the British newspaper] The Guardian, here and here.
I am also founder of the UCF, a nonprofit social enterprise that aims to end extreme poverty (web: ugandafarm.org).
Think of me as a beaten, stray dog — never at peace, very dreadful of the past, & trying everything to ensure the future isn’t even worse.
What worries me the most:
Extreme poverty is quickly becoming a problem of only one part of the world: Sub Saharan Africa.
One pre-pandemic projection by the World Bank (in 2018) indicated that, by 2030, over 90% of the world’s extreme poor (400m+) will live in Sub Saharan Africa. Moreover, Sub Saharan African poverty itself isn’t created equal. It is tougher in given regions, and I happen to be living in one of its hotspots.
My country Uganda is one of the ten poorest countries in Sub Saharan Africa, and is among the 5 poorest countries worldwide, by GDP Per Capita. Even in Uganda itself, my region Kamuli and Buyende (or Busoga as a whole), is also arguably the most miserable, and the most impoverished region, if you ask anyone who knows this place well.
As someone who has spent the vast portion of my life in chronic poverty, this surely worries me.
What I am asking you, the Gen Z collective across the world, to help me change:
The absence of reliable markets for our produce is the single biggest challenge that keeps every rural smallholder farmer in our region in extreme poverty. Farmers have no market linkages beyond village level, yet everyone is very poor, and no local demand exists within the poor communities themselves.
This not only guarantees incomes below the poverty line, but also means, an already impoverished farmer can’t produce beyond a certain point, and can’t scale. It is also the one thing that makes it pretty hard for people like us to rebuild post COVID-19.
When coupled with our OTHER main challenge of poor postharvest systems, the result, as said here, is twofold:
a) zero income, resulting both from poor postharvest handling, and the absence of ready markets, and b) food insecurity, resulting both from poor postharvest management, and the fact that a farmer never realized any income from their produce in the first place, which they would have used to secure food during times of scarcity, yet the resulting food loss now means higher food prices.
It is also worth noting that: various antipoverty programs have come and gone, all of them with the goal of moving rural poor farmers in our region from extreme poverty, but all of them have only done the same thing: providing rural poor farmers with improved seed; fertilizers, and training — not a lasting solution to what comes thereafter (i.e., market access at harvest).
If addressed, many farmers would indeed be able to turn into more productive citizens who are capable of escaping extreme poverty in a self-sustaining way.
A practical example of how this orchestrates poverty:
Less than 200 meters from my project, the UCF, a group of farmers planted (in 2021) ten acres of cassava that you can see here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
But because there is no market for cassava in our region, these farmers told me they have only planted this cassava for the purpose of selling cassava cuttings (i.e. cassava stems), not the cassava itself.
These cuttings are bought by the Uganda government’s ‘Operation Wealth Creation‘ initiative, for distribution to other poverty-stricken areas of Uganda.
This is a clear indication that, if only these farmers had a guaranteed, viable market for their cassava, they would have definitely produced even more, and they would have certainly been able to build their own path from poverty.
Back in 2017, I even made a presentation before the UNDP Uganda Country Director (and her senior team), about the same thing.
The intended solution:
The solution that I am asking you the Zoomers across the world to help me create is: a fully-fledged agro-processing plant that shall both reverse poverty & create jobs in our region, by creating new market linkages for rural poor farmers, and linking our produce with agri-value chains — like bakeries and confectioneries; bottling companies and breweries; paperboard industries and textiles, etc. Details.
As shown under “Funding Targets” below, we will install a specific portion of this plant once the money we have raised is at the intervals of $240k; $620k; $1m and $15m. That is, we will begin developing this plant once we only raise $240k, and complete it once we have raised $15m.
How this plant shall help:
Not only will this plant create new market linkages for more than one type of crop, and thus help rural poor farmers diversify their incomes, but also, the plant will help minimize post-harvest food losses, while creating new jobs, and will enhance our ability to work with an unlimited number of fellow poor farmers across a wider geographical area (providing them with initial inputs, training and a ready market) in a self-sustaining way.
Each beginning farmer will be provided with initial inputs for 1 – 4 seasons (depending on the type of crop they are growing), plus lifelong training. Others will intrinsically get the self-motivation to secure the needed inputs using their own money, because of a new market.
Either way, with a ready market and an established business model now in place, all farmers will ultimately gain the self-urge (and the ability) to secure all the needed inputs using their own resources, making our overall work self-scaling, and self-sustaining.
See our intended ownership structure for this plant here, and learn about our planned Business Model here.
Why I am so into this plant, than short-term solutions:
All past and present antipoverty programs that have worked with rural poor farmers in our region, have taken the same approach: give these farmers things like cassava cuttings, maize seed, training, fertilizers etc, and that’s all.
But I can assure you, I live permanently in Namisita, a village formerly in Balawoli Sub County, but now part of a new Sub County called Kagumba, in Kamuli. I also know precisely every other remote rural corner of our region.
No single farmer has ever exited extreme poverty because someone gave them these inputs and went away. Farmers have been given everything, but they never ever become self-sustaining; many do not even have food, and live in eternal hunger. They can’t afford new seed on their own in subsequent seasons & need to be supported continuously.
Scores of poverty alleviation programs have worked with rural poor farmers in our region this way, and have spent millions of dollars doing so, but no farmer has ever moved from hunger to being food secure on a sustained basis, or from being a subsistence farmer to a commercial farmer, because someone helped them this way. This kind of work has always disappeared the same day its proponents exit.
By contrast, while sugarcane growing* is known to bring monoculture and hence famine, a sugar plant came to Kamuli around 2013, and gave farmers initial support for the first few years. Today, every part of Kamuli & Buyende is full of sugarcane, and farmers do not need anyone to help them get started. Because a ready market is there.
That is why, our intended plant, which will create market linkages for at least six (6) different crops, is the kind of thing that can move rural poor smallholder farmers in a place like ours, from extreme poverty.
*Our intended plant won’t work on sugarcane. No. I only used sugarcane and the Kamuli sugar plant as an analogy.
1). At the $240k mark, we will install a cereal/grain sorting, grading and threshing system, ideally from Alvan Blanch UK, and then provide rural poor farmers with seed, training, and market linkages for two crops: sorghum & maize. This will help put our sorghum and maize on a standard where it can be used by all breweries, and many other big buyers, across the East African region.
2). At the $620k mark, we will install a cereal/grain cleaning utility described in number #1 above; a cassava starch/tapioca facility, and then provide rural farmers with seed, training and market linkages for three different crops: sorghum, maize and cassava. Starch alone will link us with buyers from the fields of beer, bakery, pasta, the pharmaceutical industry, textiles, paperboard & adhesive industries, biscuit makers and yogurt producers etc.
3). With $1m, we will develop all the work in 1, 2 and 3 above; install two greenhouse-type solar food dryers, plus an assortment of equipment/accessories, and provide farmers with seed, training and market linkages for three crops — sorghum, maize and cassava — with at least four different products (including High Quality Cassava Flour & Cassava Starch).
4). At the $15m mark, we will roll out all the work in 1, 2, 3 and 4 above; install a 6-10 ton/hour fruit processing facility; provide farmers with seed/seedlings, training and market linkages for six different crops — sorghum, maize, cassava, mango, pineapple and passion fruits.
I really believe we can even develop a more superior plant, and roll out our planned community work in an even more harmonized way, if only I was able to raise ~$45m in total.
Nonetheless, if we can’t raise this kind of money, we will still cut our coat according to our cloth.
It is very clear that the current climate crisis is set to hit poor people like us the hardest. At the same time, the yoke of poverty in a place like ours also warrants the same kind of solutions, as our intended plant. Please go here to see how we plan to make our plant carbon neutral.
Getting started: raising support, and getting this plant installed, in 4 steps:
1). Firstly, let’s erect this plant as a single team, and let’s handle every penny together, from start to finish. Details.
2). Let the global Gen Z collective set up only one main GoFundMe (of a goal of your own choosing), to help raise support. I will post that GoFundMe here… See guidelines.
Until then, i.e., until we have any GoFundMes that have been created for this purpose, I am asking the global Gen Z community to simply share my own current fundraiser.
3). My nonprofit (the UCF) is part of the Benevity Causes Portal, a platform where employees from the world’s biggest corporations (including Google, Microsoft, SAP, Coca Cola, Cargill, Sam Sung etc) can make donations that are matched by their employer.
If you work at a company that is part of Benevity’s employee workplace giving and corporate matching gift programs, one way you can help, is by asking a good number of employees at your company, to each make a donation that will be matched by their employer.
To make a matched donation, all that an employee needs to do is look for “Uganda Community Farm (Nabwigulu)” on Benevity.
4). Another way you (or the people you know) can help us raise support, is by making a wire transfer to the UCF’s bank account in Uganda, using the details on this page.
I would be very thankful, if you people can use your age to help create a solution that will leave a lasting impact on the cycle of poverty in a really impoverished, remote rural part of the world, and a solution that you guys will be able to look back on, long after your Gen Z years have passed.