Learning events with farmers increasing take up of climate smart agriculture practices and technologies


Blog

The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project organises learning events in partnership with key line government ministries, climate scientists, researchers, farmer organisations, and private financiers to bring participants together to reflect on adopting climate smart agriculture practices and technologies, share lessons learned, identify areas of improvement, and build synergies for more collaborations.

To satisfy the needs of the Uganda’s expanding population, farmers in the country need to produce more food in the next 30 years than they have in the past. However, the impacts of climate change make meeting this challenge difficult.

Past temperature trends (1960–2005) show that the country has been experiencing warming of approximately 1°C–1.3°C in mean annual temperatures.

Relatedly, climate change projections conducted under the CRAFT project in 2021 show similar patterns in the rate of warming, where temperature is forecast to rise by approximately 2°C over the next 30 years.

This increase is having a negative impact on agricultural productivity and land use, experienced by smallholder farmers through more frequent extreme weather events such as floods and prolonged droughts, shifting agro-ecosystem boundaries, reduced crop quality and quantity, and an increase of invasive climate change related diseases and pests.

For example, for sesame production in the northern part of Uganda, climate change is likely to considerably erode existing opportunities for yield increases

during the second rainy seasons. Currently, the average yield of sesame is about 700kg/ha. However, by 2050 and in the second rainy season, it is forecast that even yields under optimum management conditions are likely to decrease by up to 1000kg/ha in Gulu, Apac, Lira, Kitgum and large parts of Pader. In the first rainy season, all these areas are likely to experience yield decreases as well.

Research demonstrates that climate smart agriculture (CSA) will help to mitigate the effects of climate change for both farmers and the planet. However, mass adoption of this potentially game-changing agricultural approach by small holder farmers (SHFs) has not occurred at the expected rate in Uganda. This is partly due to limited information and/or misinformation on the possible advantages of CSA, and well as limited training and resources to ensure CSA practices and technologies in local communities.

How CRAFT is enhancing CSA adoption in Uganda

To scale mass adoption of proven CSA practises and technologies, the CRAFT Project organises learning events introducing and training agribusinesses and SHFs from different food value chains such as sesame, soybean and potato, to CSA practices and technologies. This includes integrated pest management, sustainable soli and land management, sustainable mechanisation, as well as use of quality seeds and planting materials of well-adapted crops and varieties. These practices and technologies can sustainably increase productivity and resilience, improve incomes, while also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by utilising renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) solutions.

The events are organised in partnership with key line government ministries, departments and agencies (MADs), climate scientists, researchers, farmer organisations (such as Agri-SMEs and cooperatives) and their leaders, service providers (for example, tech developers, and input dealers), as well as private financiers such as commercial banks, microfinance institutions, and insurance companies.

The leaning events bring participants together to reflect on what has worked well in adopting CSA practices and technologies, share lessons learned, identify areas of improvement, and build synergies for more collaborations.

Participants of a three-day Learning Event organised by CRAFT in Fort Portal City under the theme ‘Enhancing the Adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture in Uganda’.

‘Not only do the events offer an effective strategy for group trainings that reach as many small holder farmers as possible, but also empower us individually and collectively to participate in different processes of agricultural development in light of climate change,’ shares Enid Sayuuni, a small holder farmer who participated in a recent learning event organised by CRAFT, in partnership with Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (KAZARDI) in in Southwestern Uganda.

Grace Kalembe, the underwriter of the Agriculture Insurance Consortium appreciates CRAFT for such activities that help private financiers to ‘reach out to key people and organisations who are in direct contact with farmers.’

Other agribusiness leaders who participated in another CRAFT-organised learning event in Fort Portal City, Kabarole, in December, spoke highly of the opportunity to gather and learn.

‘These activities have enabled us to grow in heaps and get a grasp of how to provide the right climate smart services such as mechanisation, weather information and soil testing services to our members, thereby increasing productivity and incomes,’ says Aliganyira Nezaphor, the Project Manager for OKEBA Uganda Ltd.

Potato value chain SHFs under Kisoro District Potato Growers Cooperative Union Limited (KDPGCUL) undergoing an intense two-day training at Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (KAZARDI) in Kabale District in Southwestern Uganda

Agronomists from Buliisa Zonal Agricultural research and Development Institute (BUZARDI) in Hoima teach CRAFT smallholder farmers on how to use collapsible driers

Before CRAFT started hosting learning sessions, Norah Asiyo, the General Secretary of one of the business champions;  Popular Knowledge Women’s Initiative Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Society Limited (P’KWI), which focuses on growing and processing sunflower seeds into ‘virgin’ oil in Bukedea district, while mainstreaming gender and youth inclusion in agribusiness development, says they were doing business as usual.

‘We grew crops without focusing on CSA practices and technologies. But things changed when CRAFT introduced us to innovative and climate resilient farming practises such as using drought-tolerant seed varieties. Adopting such practises has strengthened our knowledge and technical capacity to adopt to the adverse effects of climate change,’ says Norah.

CRAFT’s efforts have been recognised by Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), a ministry which has played a catalytic role in building the capacity of food value chains to ensure adaptive actions aimed at reducing vulnerability, mitigating risks and building resilience through a range financial and non-financial approaches.

‘As a Ministry, we are not sufficiently resourced to fully implement strategies aimed at scaling the mass adoption of CSA. We therefore appreciate the “complementary roles” played by different actors such as CRAFT,’ shares Deus Muhwezi – the Acting Director, Agricultural Extension Services at the MAAIF.

Written by: Sandra Nassali (CRAFT Communications Officer) and Sarah Mwazire (CRAFT Communications Intern)
More information: Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) is a five-year project, implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with focus on three pillars; increasing adoption of climate smart practices and technologies amongst farmers and agro-enterprises; increasing investments and business growth in climate smart value chains; and creating enabling environment necessary to ensure large-scale roll-out of market driven climate smart agriculture. The project is passionate about women and youth inclusion as one of the indicators seeks to increase the number of women and youth employed in the private sector. The cross-cutting workstream for gender and youth inclusion emphasizes targeted interventions where needed, to ensure equity and inclusion through a sustainable gender sensitive climate smart service provision.