Rural farming communities share many things in common. Most of all, they live, strive and thrive in the daily busy and hectic chores of the farm. Many times, the farmer’s hard work is rewarded by stagnant or even shrinking net farm incomes. Family farmers in Kakooga, Bunyangabu District of Western Uganda experienced the same before enrolment onto the “Food Security for Family Farmers through Agroecology” in 2022, a program supported by Broederlijk Delen.
As a result, the farmers have shown the capacity to change and model their village into a thriving farming and sustainable community.
The project employs a holistic approach known as Integrated Farm Planning (PIP). According to Wageningen University, PIP is an innovative way of transforming small-scale subsistence farm households into more productive and sustainable farms. It is based on a visionary Integrated Farm Plan which is developed and drawn on a map by all family members, as well as a concrete action plan how to realize that vision.
KRC implements the project through Farmer Innovators, who are a select group of motivated farmers who are then trained and mentored through participatory agronomy in different interventions that ensure:
- Diversity and environmental conservation on farm
- Visioning to facilitate practical planning which guides in proper allocation and utilization of resources at house hold level
With the support of KRC extension worker this become possible through the use of different approaches of group trainings and follow up at house hold level. Through continuous engagements of the farmer innovators and the entire communities in other blended activities like nutrition education and screening of children under 5 years, gender-based violence awareness and case management trainings critical thought and action and motivated interest in the program. Critical issues highlighted in the program such as low incomes resulting from poor farming practices, increased tolerance to gender-based violence and high level of malnutrition that results from poor feeding and limited access to a good nutritive and healthy diet.
On farm monitoring of farmer innovators to ascertain the progression and adoption of these practices. It was observed that farmer innovators were able to showcase experiences, active participation and initiative to support fellow farmers not only where they found challenges but also learn from each other and getting a leveled ground for further innovations. As a result, the adoption of good agronomic practices continues to impact on the livelihoods and income status of the households.
Milton Tusiime a banana farmer attests to the impact of the program about the enhanced productivity and large sizes of his banana bunches and how he is more assured of regular and higher income from his banana plantation. He is grateful to KRC for having introduced him to integrated farm planning.
Photo: Farmer innovators (PIs) and mothers attending a nutrition awareness training session in Kakooga C, Kakinga Town Council
By Agaba Henry
Agriculture Extension Worker, KRC Uganda