When we talk about diversifying Agriculture, what comes to people’s minds is having crop production integrated with animal production on the same farm which is right, however diversification can also be done in crops alone. This can be accomplished by adding new crop species or different varieties or by changing the cropping system currently in use.
New Hope Youth Group in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge District decided to diversify their vegetable crop production on 1.25 acers of land and reduced their costs on investment from 2,900,000/= to 930,000/= with incomes from 7,500,000/= to 5,990,000/= respectively.
Initially, the group used to grow only tomatoes on their land but would sadly incur very high costs on inputs like fungicides, fertilizers, pesticides and labor. This ultimately reduced their return on investment, and posed a great burden for youth who find it hard to access agriculture finance.
New Hope Youth Group is one of the many groups that KRC Uganda selected to participate in the Young Africa Works; Markets for Youth Program supported by GOAL Uganda. The group’s representatives commonly known as Youth Champions we trained as TOTs in business development and trained how best to operate an agriculture business.
With the knowledge gained, the Youth Champions have considered improving their vegetable production as a business through crop diversification. They have also trained and guided their fellow group members on how best they can diversify their farms to earn more from the same piece of land with minimal capital input.
The group decided to produce during dry season (December -February 2022) when vegetables are in scarcity. They introduced two more vegetable varieties, eggplants, and green paper in addition to tomatoes. They also planted yams on the boundary which they expect to harvest after 5 months.
“With this diversification, we have harvested so far 30 bags of both garden eggs and eggplants selling each bag at 50,000/= and we expect to continue harvesting for more one month at least more 10 bags giving a total harvest of 40 bags, bringing in income of 2,000,000/=. We have so far harvested 4 bags of green paper and expect to harvest more 3 bags in the next 2 weeks each bag we sell it at 70,000/= giving a total of 490,000/=. Our tomatoes are expected to give us about a minimum of 3,000,000/=. We also expect to get not less than 500,000/= from the yams giving us total of 5,990,000/=. We have so far invested 730,000/= and we expect to invest not more than 200,000/= to complete the season, adding up to 930, 000/= as overall investment. This a huge improvement from the same season in 2021, when we planted 1/5 of the land with tomatoes, with investment of 580,000/= and earned 1,500,000 /=”.
There is so much value and gain in farm in farm diversification, with more income earned with less input. In the agroecological transition of smallholder farms, the most obvious advantage of diversification is a reduced risk of total crop failure due to pest infestations. The other benefits for crop diversification include minimal losses in case one crop fails or lacks market where the shortfall can then be readily covered up output from other crops.