Uganda

Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative

Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative (AWEI) is a remarkable network of women farmers on the slopes of the Rwenzori mountains in Western Uganda, led by Margret Masika. Over the last three years they have made great progress helping hundreds of local women to learn the skills required to raise mango tree seedlings in village nurseries, and then graft these small trees with high quality mango varieties before planting them out on their farms. There is always demand from women in new villages to take up mango farming: both to produce mangoes for family nutrition and for sale in local markets. This is a remote and rugged landscape where farmers can face poverty and hunger at some times of year. AWEI promotes mango farming as an alternative to relying on harvesting charcoal from the Rwenzori Forest as a source of income for poor families -a dangerous, destructive and illegal practice-. The communities and local administration have also agreed on bye-laws to protect this forest which is a UNESCO world heritage site for its biodiversity. Now AWEI realises the need to introduce more diverse agroforestry systems on farm, to meet the need for improved soil fertility and a wider range of tree products. They plan to help 1,000 women plant 100,000 trees over the next three years.

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