The Gulu District of Northern Uganda is recovering from nearly 25 years of armed conflict and civil strife that left the North the poorest region in Uganda, with an estimated 61 percent of the population living in poverty.
The UN’s World Food Program estimates that nearly 1.4 million people in Northern Uganda were displaced by the fighting, the majority of whom took shelter in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps.
Beginning in 2008, farmers in the Gulu and Amuru Districts began returning to their homes for the first time in 20 years. They now face the challenge of reconstructing their lives as subsistence farmers, requiring a stable cash crop to enable them to meet their basic needs.
Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) is the only commercial cotton ginnery in the Gulu District of Northern Uganda. GADC sources both organic and conventionally-produced cotton from over 55,000 smallholder farmers in the region. The company gins the cotton and sells the cotton lint to international buyers, providing farmers with much-needed market access.
GADC also empowers local smallholder farmers by providing them with support, training, and agricultural inputs.
GADC reached 40,000 smallholder farmers in 2010 and 2011, allowing them to transcend subsistence farming and reach an income-generating market. 7,500 farmers are currently certified organic cotton growers, receiving a 20% price premium over conventional cotton prices.
GADC hopes to serve as a catalyst for the economic recovery of Northern Uganda by re-building the cotton ecosystem which so many smallholder farmers depended on.