Makerere University holds the 7th International Course on Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management
A section of the participants taking notes while on a field visit to a model farmer in Mpigi district
- Over 30 international students attend and visit Ugandan farmers adapting to climate change
- Experts report that 2016 was the hottest year of the century followed by 2015 , temperature rise projected to hit 2.7 degrees
- Universities urged to be more innovative , raise scientific awareness and promote mitigation and adaptation measures
Makerere University has hosted the 7th International Course on Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management to discuss strategies on how to curb the impacts of climate change. The two weeks training was held at Esella Country Hotel in Kampala starting 30th January -10th February 2017.
This annual course was developed in an innovative partnership between Wageningen University and Research centre (Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation, Alterra and PRI), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Participants touring Hajji Abubakar Yiga's farm in Mpigi
The course is funded by NUFFIC- A Dutch Organization and coordinated by Dr. Florence Kyazze from the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies, Makerere University and Dr. Arrend Jan Van Bodegory from Wageningen University of the Netherlands. Makerere University is given three scholarships for students to study free of charge annually.
The course is aimed at equipping participants with full understanding of climate change adaptation concepts and to effectively and meaningfully contribute to the debate on climate change adaptation, either in the policy process and/or in providing knowledge to the policy process.
This year (2017), the training attracted 34 international students from Latin America, East Africa, West Africa and Asia. Participating students came from Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Other students were from Colombia, Bangladesh and Vietnam among others.
One of the Course instructor, Dr. Nicholas Kiggundu and Uganda's model farmer Hajji Yiga (pointing fingures) lecturing students on te micro irrigation technology on the farm. The farmer dug a well of 20ft or irrigation during the dry season
Makerere University Course Coordinator, Dr. Florence Birungi Kyazze said the Course components include oral presentations from different resource persons punctuated by visits to successful Ugandan farmers adapting to climate change.
On 3rd February 2017, participants made a field visit on Hajji Abubakar Yiga’s field in Kasalu village, Nindye parish, Nkozi subcounty in Mpigi district. Hajji Yiga has been a model farmer for the past five years . Despite the hottest weather recorded in 2016, he has adapted through soil and water conservation technologies.
“Today we are looking at a farmer who has gone through 2016 but still has his farm looking good. We are here looking at strategies he is using. He has invested in soil and water conservation. He has invested in vector and disease control, soil fertility enhancement and micro irrigation”. Dr. Florence Kyazze said adding that:
“ Sometimes when teaching our students, it is difficult to bring reality into the classroom setting. So, when we are here at Mr. Yiga’s farm, reality comes into setting and we get case studies that we can present to our students.”
One of Mr. Yiga's workers demonstrating how the irrigation pump is used on the farm
Dr. Kyazze said that the other important aspect learnt from Hajji Yiga’s farm is the social capital that is, the ability of Mr. Yiga to involve his family members in farm activities to offset labour costs.
“ What we have seen at Mr. Yiga’s farm is the complementarily between him and his family. He has two wives and a number of children but everyone participates. So this social capital helps him run the farm sufficiently because even if he is not there, the children are able to do it”, Dr. Kyazze said.
Dr. Kyazze reported that Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has an internship program aimed at exposing students to skills and new knowledge to change their attitude that there are farmers who can innovate.
“ In fact I am encouraging my students that 90% of your success will depend on your creativity. 4% of the success is contributed to what you learn in books. When you learn in books, you make networks and use your knowledge to create your own job”, The Don said adding that;
“The participants are surprised that such stories can happen in Uganda because when one hears about Uganda, they think of a low developed country. But the activities Yiga is doing are impressive and have not been seen by students back in their countries of origin”.
Some of the vegetable gardens on Yiga's farm
While touring students and teaching them the agronomic practices on his farm, Mr. Yiga explained that he bought six acres of land, dug a well of about 20 ft deep, bought a generator worth shs. 3 million and a pump of shs. 1.25 million mainly to grow crops during the dry season.
“I did not go to school to read but I have been able to attend farmer trainings organized by government, agricultural shows and networked with educated people. I thank the President of Uganda for giving me all seeds free of charge, those who trained me are paid by government and I am very grateful. I am also asking my neighbours and those interested in farming to come here and we share the knowledge and skills to uplift the standard of farming,” Hajji Yiga stated.
A section of Mr. Yiga's orchard
Mr. Yiga grows a variety of crops including fruits (Mangoes and oranges), yams, sweet potatoes, yellow bananas and vegetables( cabbages, beans, eggplants). The seeds were supplied by government through Operation Wealth Creation Program that supports farmers to graduate from subsistence to commercial farming to improve livelihoods.
“ I have 200 mature orange plants and 250 still young. I also have 150 mature plants of mangoes and 100 young ones. Within six months I will be getting two sacks per tree and 400 sacks amounting to shs. 22 million. 100 kg of oranges cost shs. 200, 000 in dry season and shs. 100,000 during the wet season. A mango goes for shs.500 on the farm”. The farmer said.
Mr. Yiga however decried the high capital required for spraying, buying manure and fuel before harvesting since he has no alternative source of income. He also said pumping and irrigating water to every plant in all the six acres was tedious and hoped to get a sprinkler irrigation system to reduce on the labour.
Mr. Yiga teaching and responding to the students questions on the farm
The Netherlands course Coordinator, Dr. Arrend Jan Van Bodegory reported that 2016 was hottest year of the century followed by 2015 with projected temperature rise of up to 2.7 degrees. Its uncertain what 2017 holds for the farmer hence the need to raise awareness on the changing climate, mitigation and adaption measures.
Dr. Arrend described Hajji Yiga, the model farmer as innovative and resilient, commending his strategy of producing during the dry season as a niche to capture the market when there is scarcity and high demand with bigger returns.
Dr. Arrend Jan Van Bodegory during an interview on Mr. Yiga's farm
He observed that in the five years, Mr. Yiga had made changes in the farming systems implying that he was well prepared to face the consequences of climate change.
“Climate change is happening due to human actions and carbon emissions and these consequences were raised by the scientific communities as far as 1980’s. Awareness creation of science by Universities at national and global level is key”. Dr. Arrend advised.
Another thing universities should help according to Dr. Arrend is coming up with new methodologies and ideas for farmers to adapt and communicate massively.
Article compiled by.
Communication Officer, CAES