DIVERSIFICATION OF FARMING SYSTEM TO ENSURE SUSTAINABLE INCOME AND FOOD SECURITY IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
Communities that are dependent on rain fed agriculture of low value annual cereal food and cash crops are more vulnerable to climate change effects. We are introducing high value horticultural and perennial crops through skills training, research and policy formulation for food security, poverty reduction and sustainable agriculture in post war districts of northern Uganda.
Thousands of agriculturalists with degrees, diplomas and certificates have been trained in Africa but with little visible change in the livelihood of rural farmers. Uganda is now emphasizing vocational skills training that require minimum academic qualifications. The majority of rural subsistence farmers have no formal education and they will not benefit from such skills training.
The traditional farming in northern Uganda is based on annual cereal cropping system. These crops are low value and are only economical under large scale mechanization. We are introducing high value horticultural crops in the region through formal and informal on-field training. We shall also introduce perennial crops such as coffee, palm oil, banana and assorted fruit trees to diversity the income of the rural farmers that have depended on annual food and cash crops for years. We are aware of the difficulties in adapting and adopting new farming systems, but we have already recorded some successes. The project will help us to consolidate and expand our earlier successes.
The training is on farm, lasting 4 to 6 months, adopting the farmer-to-farmer model. We shall operate a mobile training system to reach framers in remote areas. Trainees are given several options covering horticultural crops, livestock, agroforestry, value addition and microenterprise and agribusiness. Research will assess the effectiveness of the training through; increased technology uptake, increased production; increased food availability and food security, agribusiness and value addition leading to reduction in poverty level in the rural farming communities.
Output 1: This output area will support 750 top performing and committed youths and groups of farmers in horticultural crops, livestock and agroforestry practices.(18 months)
Output 2: The project will provide training and support to trainees on developing business ideas and business plans to access livelihood funds (18 months).
Output 3: Build capacity of farmers to process farm products to add value (18 months).
Output 4: Conduct research to assess adaptation and adoption of new farming system (12 months),
Output 5: Build the capacity of IAKP to expand and reach rural farmers in remote areas.
The data generated during this period will be the number of women and youths trained; possible increased production and income generated from horticultural crops as opposed to the traditional cereal crops. Number of trainees involved in agribusiness enterprises and value addition on their produce.
We shall train more women and youths and organize the alumni to form cooperatives to ease marketing. We shall undertake agro-processing, food preservation, value addition and bulk marketing. We shall organize regular agricultural shows for marketing and to encourage other small scale farmers to participate. These activities will help to spread the technology uptake to the rural farmers in the northern region.
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