Bwete & Umoja Post
SATNET working with Farmer family Learning Groups (FFLGs) to increase Small holder farmer Resilience
A look at Umoja and Bwete FFLGs
SATNET has worked with over 300 FFLGs for now more than eight years. Among the many FFLGs is Bwete and Umoja. Bwete is situated in Kyondo subcounty and Umoja in Munkunyu Subcounty both in Kasese district.
Bwete is challenged by the steep terrain which has over time experienced heavy soil fertility loss through erosion. The mountain dwelling farmers who predominantly grow coffee are experiencing reduced yields and the pests and diseases on coffee are numerous and a big task to manage. Farmers are also associating the low yields and high incidence of pests and diseases with climate change.
“We have for long seen our soil being taken down hill, it is high time we followed this soil wherever it has been taken. We have to claim back our soil” said one of the farmers. However, the FFLGs unanimously agreed that this would not be a practical solution. Therefore, agro ecological alternatives to improve the soil fertility, reduce the soil erosion and increase the resilience of the coffee from the adverse climatic conditions were sought. The idea is to explore the integration of Milletia dura and Velvet bean in the coffee plantations. Over 900 Milletia dura trees will be introduced on 30 small holder coffee farms and undersown with Velvet bean. The 30 farmers will generate knowledge on the ecological interactions of coffee with the introduction of Milletia dura and Velvet bean.
It is foreseen that this intervention will contribute to the alternatives of beneficial shade and undersown plants with multiple benefits.
Both Milletia dura and Velevet bean are first growing plants with multiple benefits. The plants in question are nitrogen fixing, livestock and provide mulch.
Bwete farmers with seedlings of Milletia dura
Umoja is one of the FFLGs that is chanced to have access to a micro-irrigation scheme. Although majority farmers along the constructed water channel have not effectively utilized the water channel, Umoja farmers are using the water to manually irrigate their group vegetable gardens using watering cans. This enables them to produce vegetable throughout the year. Umoja intends to produce their own vegetable seed for planting and for sale. Their group garden has also enabled them to maintain quality and secure good markets. Umoja is in the process of attaining participatory guarantee system to advance their market strategy for their organic vegetables.
Umoja farmers inspecting their group vegetable garden
Watch this space to be updated on the outcome of this participatory action research and farmer empowerment processes……