Rice-green gram production enhancement a turbo-charge to agricultural development in Northern Uganda.

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Far too often, people view Northern Uganda through a prism of challenges and yet it represents a region of hope, promise and vast potential. The fact stands that people of Northern Uganda have for long been widely carrying out agricultural activities that is to say crop, poultry and animal production. Some have benefited from this indulgence while others have not benefited as is expressed in their expectations in comparison to the value of their investment.

There are many factors responsible for agricultural output whether low or high. Poor rains, bad soils, poor seed varieties and most notably the lack of research skills and knowledge on agricultural undertakings have always been cited as prime causes of low and poor agricultural production in Northern Uganda.

The good news is that WOUGNET and her partners will be initiating a joint project titled “Enhancing Rice-Green Gram Productivity in Northern Uganda” with funding from Food and Business Applied Research Fund (ARF). The ARF provides grants to applied research contributing to innovation for food security in partner countries of the Dutch Development Corporation. The main objectives of the project are; eradicating existing hunger and malnutrition, promoting inclusive and sustainable growth in the agricultural sector and creating ecologically sustainable food systems in Uganda.

ARF partly contributes to sustainable access of nutritious food by women, children and youth in Northern Uganda. The project focuses on inception activities, development of knowledge products, participatory field trials on rice green gram rotational cropping, capacity building of farmers and establishment of an ICT platform and initial adaption studies. The project is expected to result in to increased rice and green gram production; improved food and nutrition security; increased household income and reduced gender economic imbalance at house hold level.

The composition of the project team (consortium) will include; Women of Uganda Network as the lead applicant; National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO,) Netherlands Development Organization and Makerere University as consortium partners.

In this project WOUGNET will Oversee project activities; organize consortium events such as workshops, meetings, other knowledge co-creation activities and financial management. WOUGNET’s technical role will include; site selection, liaison with rural women farmers and promoting a gender perspective in the project’s implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Makerere University will provide expertise in ICT platform development and operationalization under the College of Computing and Information Sciences (COCIS). The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will provide expertise in agricultural and rural innovation and extension services. The university will further lead baseline and adoption studies during the project.

NARO whose mandate is to undertake, promote and coordinate research for crop, livestock, fish, and forestry to ensure the dissemination and application of research results will bring expertise and experience in agronomy, seed systems establishment and will supply planting materials for the project. The National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) under NARO will provide expertise in green gram production.

SNV Uganda offers experiences of linking farmers to niche markets and product innovations. The organization will provide support in farmer capacity building in collective marketing, value addition and in analyzing the cropping system including land and labor productivity assessments. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) will be an associate partner providing linkages with similar initiatives in other countries, but also providing a platform for disseminating experiences learned.

Makerere and WOUGNET’s experience in promoting rural innovations and ICT use, especially among rural women farmers, has revealed that smallholder farmers have limited access to information on rice and green gram cultivation and marketing, yet such information is widely available within project partner research organizations. Limited application of scientific knowledge is mostly linked to social and economic factors that constrain innovation uptake.

Rice- green gram rotational cropping is expected to increase agricultural production, improve food and nutrition security in Lira, Apac and Akole in northern Uganda where it will be operating. In the region, smallholder rice farmlands are cultivated every season with little soil nutrient replenishment. The land is almost left un-utilized in between rice crops resulting in reduced land productivity. The project proposes to introduce green gram in rice cropping system to increase land productivity, improve soil fertility, and enhance farmer’s income and nutrition among women and youth.

The project will also evaluate the use of rhizobia inoculums to inoculate green gram and develop farmer centered seed production and business. It is hoped that an ICT enabled knowledge sharing network will be established and many more outcomes shall be witnessed including an established and understood factors at farm level that influence partial and total adoption of rice- green gram cropping in northern Uganda; Increased farmer’s access to quality seeds through a farmer centered multiplication and business model for both rice and green gram; Increase in farm yields of rice through integrated soil management like rice green gram, rotational cropping, and adoption of improved varieties and use of appropriate farming practices; Improved farmer’s access to information on rice green gram value chains through all ICT enabled knowledge management framework; Enhanced women’s economic power and decision making participation at household level, through community advocacy programs, grantee economic returns to women efforts via group marketing and sales of rice produce.

Article by
KUSEMERERWA EVE
Program Assistant, Information Sharing and Networking