Dear the 200 Richest Humans on Planet Earth, that’s, those people whose names appear on this Forbes List,

This message is for you, and I am turning to you as my very last resort. 

 

I am requesting you the 200 richest humans on earth, to help me only raise $15m, but preferably $45m, to enable me stem the ever-spiraling grip of poverty where I live. 

This request isn’t based on some ego, or self-conceit. No.

 

About me: 

My name is Anthony, a farmer here in eastern Uganda. I happen to be one of those people, like many others in my region, who have been in the crosshairs of ultra poverty from the very first day I came on earth.

But I firmly believe: if I manage to be on this planet for some good time, but still not manage to do anything on the grip of poverty in my region, it will be the equivalent of me having never lived in the first place. That’s, it will be as if I simply never lived. Why? Because my own ordeal will have served no purpose.

Please learn about my own lifelong struggle with ultra poverty here. Or see my writings in the British Newspaper, The Guardian, here and here.

 

Photos of me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. | twitter: @KaluluAnthony

 

My life journey in short:

In September 2015, when the UN Global Goals were being launched, I was still going entire days without a single meal, and things had been that way for me since my years of childhood.

But the energy that surrounded the launch of these goals, was one of the very first things that restored hope in me, and which made me believe a poverty-free world was now possible, and that people like us were now in the company of the rest of humanity.

By the time the Global Goals came in 2015, I had become a fulltime farmer two years earlier, working on 2 acres of rented land, but my crops weren’t yet yielding any income, and certainly not enough food to make me food secure.

That only changed in 2016 after securing my own land towards the end 2015, in a place called Namisita, a village in a remote of part of Kamuli, eastern Uganda, which is where I am standing (in my photo above).

So, the year 2016 is the very first time I exited the harshest forms of hunger and starvation, where I could practically go a full day without any food, and is the very first time I became food secure as an adult.

Before turning to farming, I was a teacher near Kamuli town, but my days as a teacher were defined by hunger and chronic poverty, as was the case in all of my previous life. As a teacher, there were times when I could get what to eat say on Monday, then my next meal on Wednesday.

Teaching itself was also only a very slight chance that came my way after Uganda’s government introduced free teacher education in 2001, after I had dropped out of secondary school in 1998, because of tuition.

Banking on the UN Global Goals, to my bewilderment:

Although the UN Global Goals came at a time when I was still going hungry, I thought to myself: at least I was now old enough to hitch a ride on these goals, both to turn my own life around, and to transform my community, by 2030.

That’s, as someone who had no networks whatsoever, I thought the collaborative framework laid out by the Global Goals (under Goal #17) was my newfound opportunity both to lift myself from hunger, and to contribute to a lasting, self sustainable path from poverty in my region.

But boy, was I wrong. 

Since 2015, every person on earth who is anyone, i.e. every influencer, and every person on earth whose work is even remotely connected to global poverty, or the Global Goals, has heard from me, asking for some form of collaboration. Many times, the only thing I am asking for is a tweet about my cause, to enable me find potential collaborators.

Long story short, the global antipoverty world, and humanity as a whole, simply has no room for people like me.

For people like me, until some random antipoverty agency or western charity ends up in your community on its own, which rarely happens, and which rarely leaves any impact, getting anyone from the global development sector to lend you a voice on poverty, or to work together with you on anything, is nothing short of a miracle.

So, I am turning to you as my very last resort:

Everything else won’t work, and my main worry is that people like us, who had found some hope via the Global Goals, might actually end up in the same place, ten years later in 2030, with totally nothing new.

I wouldn’t really like to be trapped in the same life of hunger and chronic poverty even in 2030, and I wouldn’t like to sit and watch the cycle of poverty in my region remain the same, even ten years later. 

I am turning to you, the 200 richest humans, as my very last resort.

If you too can turn your back on me, you will have cemented my legacy as a lifelong poor wretch who lived in chronic extreme poverty, for life.

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 most of my life in chronic poverty, this surely worries me. I also believe the only way global poverty can end, is by putting the extreme poor directly at the helm of ending poverty.

What I want to change, with your support:

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 postharvest food loss, and the absence of ready markets, and b) food insecurity, resulting both from poor postharvest systems, 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, countless 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.

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.

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.

The cassava 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 extreme poverty.

Back in 2017, I even made a presentation before the UNDP Uganda Country Director (and her senior team), about the same thing.

The solution:

My intended solution is: a fully-fledged agro-processing plant that shall both reverse poverty and create jobs in our region, by minimizing post-harvest food losses; creating new market linkages for rural poor farmers, and linking these farmers’ produce with agri-value chains, like bakeries and confectioneries; biscuit makers and yoghurt producers; bottling companies and breweries etc, as described here.

This page explains our intended ownership structure for this plant, while this one describes our envisaged Business Model for this plant.

Why I am so into this plant, than short-term solutions:

For the most part, there is usually nothing whatsoever that is happening to end extreme poverty in our region. The few antipoverty programs that have showed up over the years, however, all of them have taken the same approach: give rural poor farmers things like seed, training, fertilizers, etc, season after season, 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 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 and need to be supported continuously.

Various 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.

Funding needs:

We will install a specific portion of this plant once the money I 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 in total.

With $1m alone, we will install 3 things: a) a cereal/grain sorting, grading and threshing system, b) a cassava starch/tapioca facility, c) two greenhouse-type solar food dryers, plus an assortment of equipment/accessories — and then provide our target farmers with seed, training and market linkages for three crops: sorghum, maize and cassava.

With $15m, we will install all the above, and then add in a 6-10 ton/hour fruit processing facility which will help rural poor farmers diversify their income sources by creating market linkages for 3 more crops: mango, pineapple and passion fruits.

However:

Given the scale of poverty in our region, and the fact that our plant will be required to provide our target farmers with initial inputs (given the social-economic status of farmers in our region), $45m is what will do the best work, as described here.

How you can help:

1). Make a wire transfer to my nonprofit, the UCF, using the bank details on this page. My goal is a threshold of $15m, but ideally $45m.

For every contribution that comes in via wire, I will use my twitter to share how much has been raised towards this goal. Also, if you wish to make your contribution public, I will share your name too on twitter. 

2). My nonprofit (the UCF) is part of the Benevity Causes Portal, a platform where employees from all 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 search for “Uganda Community Farm (Nabwigulu)” on Benevity.

3). I have tried crowdfunding over and over, in vain. But if this might still help, please help share my current fundraising campaign here.

 

This page was written November 22, 2021