Published april 2022
More than 900 farming families received training on sustainable farming practices in Nyabirongo, Uganda during the course of 2021. Goal is to strengthening family farming and promoting agro-ecology for increased agricultural productivity and improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers. Mary Olvious, a mother of five, was one of the beneficiaries. She is now an expert in getting rid of annoying insects and bugs that used to destroy her crops: ‘After the training, I was one of the first farmers in my community who adopted the making and use of organic pesticide and fertilizer.’ Equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to make pesticide from locally available plants and herbs such as blackjack, red pepper, plant leaves, wild sunflowers and ash, Mary did not waste time: ‘I can now also turn anything from bird droppings, vegetable peels, grass, weeds and leafy shrubs into green manure.’1800 kg of maizePests frequently destroyed her crops. Before the training, maize yields ranged between 500 and 800 kg per acre. During 2021, Mary implemented what she had learned in the trainings. Her harvest more than doubled and she was able to harvest 1800 kg of maize from a single acre: ‘For the first time I had got something worth the sweat,’ she says with a smile.
Executive Manager of the Koppert Foundation, Ed Moerman, says AWODA, the Association of Women Development Actors-Uganda, was selected for support by the foundation because it promoted the growing of healthy crops that would empower farmers and other value chain actors to effectively participate and benefit from the agricultural extension process. The training included ecological requirements, proper site selection, land preparation, selection of desirable varieties, integrated pest and disease control, and (post-)harvesting techniques. Training based on agro ecological practices enabled lead farmers to establish demonstration farms to mobilize communities and facilitate the adoption of improved agricultural technologies through field days and extension meetings.
720 farmers and 38 farmer groups visited Biglad and Tripple F Agro ecological farms for a better understanding of agro ecology and clinics were held for different crops from September 2021 to January 2022 to exchange knowledge between plant doctors and farmers. The farmers brought samples of the affected crop and received a diagnosis of their problems. 620 farmers were reached in this way.
By the end of September 2021, 720 farmers had also adopted the production and consumption of vegetable and fruits which were previously neglected. Adoption of 3 meals a day with at least 5 food groups increased dramatically. The farmers had improved their knowledge on nutrition, food preparation and safety. AWODA also mobilized and trained 38 farmer groups in savings and loan methodology. This stimulated local business life by opening up small businesses and commercializing farming.
Increased productivity and resilience on family farms improved farmers ability to better deal with unexpected crises such as COVID-19, climate change and others. From the data collected at mid-year, 80% of the target family farmers were food secure. ‘Agro ecological small-scale lead farmers in the community are the best teachers to train other smallholder farmers and share their knowledge and experience,’ says Ed. ‘These lead farmers show incredible commitment and enthusiasm and they play a key role in rapidly spreading their agro ecology skills at scale among rural communities.’