Farmer-led innovations to sustain food production 

Crop production in the Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda is in transition, with small holder farmers having to constantly respond to labour shortages, declining soil fertility, increasing land pressure and climate change. Currently, subsistence farmers cultivate on average 4 acres with yield of the staple crops (groundnuts, beans, maize, rice, sorghum, and millet) between 150 and 450 Kg/acre. Farmers barely use inputs (agrochemicals, manure or fertilizers). Most common limiting factors to crop production are: labour constraints (for land preparation and weeding), dry spells and decreasing soil fertility. Some farmers have themselves developed a range of promising initiatives in the domain of Conservation Agriculture (CA) that have the potential to prevent further nutrient depletion of the agricultural land. The most promising initiatives will be optimized and promoted further to achieve optimal soil fertility management and achieve a more sustainable farming system.

This research project (funded by WOTRO-ARF) will first establish the relationship between these promising initiatives, the productivity of the farming systems, and the sustainability and resilience of its land management.  Secondly, the project will identify and develop methods for improving the effectiveness, sustainability and resilience of the local CA initiatives. This will be done with the local farmers and rural extension services, in various rounds of participatory on-farm field testing, evaluations and fine-tuning.  Thirdly, capacity building trajectories will be pursued for extension services and best methods will be incorporated in the farmer support and dissemination mechanisms.

Although this project started before the launch of FGI, we like to consider this project as a case study in the framework of FGI.