Boosting Food Security Through Climate Smart Innovations

Food insecurity and malnutrition are on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The slow progress towards food security is partly attributed to demographic pressure, soil quality deterioration, and climate change that have adversely affected agricultural productivity.

To address the challenge, Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) is implementing two 5-year (2021-2026) capacity building projects aimed at improving food security and livelihoods using climate smart agricultural technologies. The projects namely: “Climate-smart Innovations in Agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa: Improved food security, livelihoods, and soil carbon” (ClimSmart), and “Climate Smart Agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa” (NORHED II) are supported by the Norwegian Research Council (NRC) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). Partner institutions in Norway include the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and Menon Economics while in the South, partners include Gulu University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment; Rural Enterprise Development Solutions (REDS); Hawassa University’s Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources; University of Zambia’s School of Agricultural Sciences; and University of Juba’s School of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies.

Right-Left: Dr Jackline Bonabana Wabbi, PI ClimSmart and Co-PI NORHED II CSA, Prof. Frank Kansiime, project member, Dr Patrick Musinguzi, Lecturer Department of Agricultural Production and Dr. Basamba Ali Twaha Ateenyi (Project Member)

The overall objective of the ClimSmart project is to contribute to increased food security, on-farm profitability, and entrepreneurship in communities of smallholder farms in Uganda, thus improving livelihoods through training and implementation of novel climate-smart practices in Agriculture. The overall objective of the NORHED II project is to generate and share new knowledge and to contribute to capacity building with respect to food security and on-farm profitability in Sub-Saharan Africa through innovative and sustainable climate-smart technologies.

Prof. Vegard Martinsen from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences presenting an overview of the NORHED II projects 

The project sites in Uganda are in Alebtong and Mubende districts representing two distinct agro-ecological zones. Broad activities under the projects´ objectives include setting up, running, and monitoring controlled field experiments and pot experiments; setting up randomized control trials and conducting surveys; training farmers on Climate Smart Agriculture technologies; collecting and analyzing data for all experiments; and knowledge generation and knowledge transfer.

Prof. Kyamanywa presenting the NORHED II Project activity plan

Expected Outputs Under the NORHED II Project

Expected outputs under the NORHED II project include; 8 MSc students and 5 PhD students in the South; One PhD funded by NMBU -MINA; two post-doctoral scholarships; strengthening research capacity at the participating institutions; and about 30 peer reviewed joint scientific publications. Further capacity building is expected through organization of three summer schools involving all partners, students from the five universities, as well as NGO’s and government representatives. Each summer school will involve one student from NMBU and two students from each of the partner institutions in the South leading to a total of 48 students trained in novel Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies. Other outcomes will include scientific exchange stimulated by scholarships for two students or staff at each of the partner institutions in the South for short-term mobility from South-North; Curricula development; developed CSA innovations packaged into policy briefs, and extension manuals; 1000 farmers trained in pigeon pea production in Uganda and Zambia and 500 smallholders trained in biochar production in both Zambia and Uganda, using pigeon pea biomass as feedstock. In addition, methods and results for CSA and impact assessments will be integrated into academic curricula on sustainable agriculture in the partner universities.

Prof. Jan Mulder from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences sharing views on the NORHED II Project

Expected Outcomes

Overall, the project is expected to enhance agricultural productivity and income of smallholder farmers through sustainable intensification in the target countries as well as a better qualified workforce in Sub Saharan Africa. It is also expected to strengthen the quality and relevance of education and research programmes of the participating organizations, increase capacity and competence of university staff and students, and improve stakeholder engagements.

The project team at the meeting at CAES

CAES Researchers, Norwegian Professors Discuss Project Implementation Plan

In a bid to streamline and strengthen the NORHED II project activities, Prof. Vegard Martinsen and Prof. Jan Mulder from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences visited Uganda on 2nd-11th March 2022 to engage their counterparts on a number of issues. On 4th March 2022, the two Professors met the project team in Uganda to deliberate on the implementation plan. The meeting held at the School of Agricultural Sciences, CAES was attended by, among others, Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa (PI of NORHED II CSA), Dr Jackline Bonabana-Wabbi (PI ClimSmart and Co-PI NORHED II CSA), Dr Basamba Ali Twaha Ateenyi (project member), representatives of partner institutions including; Dr. Alfred Obia, Coordinator of the projects at Gulu University and Mr. Edward Gitta from Rural Enterprise Development Solutions, as well as PhD students supported by the project. Other members on the project are; The Principal of CAES, Dr Gorettie N. Nabanoga from the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies; Prof. Frank Kansiime from the Department Environmental Management; Prof. Majaliwa Mwanjalolo from the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic Sciences; Dr Yazidhi Bamutaze from the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics & Climatic Sciences; and Dr. Patrick Musinguzi from the Department of Agricultural Production.

Planned Research Activities Under the NORHED II Project

Prof. Gerard Cornelissen from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences delivering a lecture  on-the process of making biochar from contaminated organic waste

Under the project, the research team intends to address issues related to crop production, soil water management, soil fertility management, and the socio-economic aspects in regard to climate smart technologies in agriculture. Under soil fertility management, the researchers plan to among other things, assess biomass production and soil carbon sequestration in rain-fed cropping systems under different climate change scenarios. They also plan to study the dominating food production systems to unravel bottlenecks in terms of yield and quality, and to identify and optimize inexpensive (on farm) sources of mineral nutrition such as farmyard manure and household compost.

Under Soil Water Management, the research team will determine the effects of traditional tillage systems, soil bunds and other CSA strategies on rainwater harvesting, runoff, soil erosion and nutrient loss at different scales. They will also examine the effects of CSA practices on soil physical properties, soil water availability and crop yield.

 

CAES staff and students as well as project partners during the guest lectures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The researchers will also quantify different aspects of the water balance under different CSA management practices to ensure sustainable use of surface and subsurface water and minimize erosion risks.

Biochar making process

Examining the socio-economic aspects in relation to Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies, the researchers will determine the contribution of CSA technologies to yield, net farm incomes, food security and poverty reduction. They will assess social acceptance and socio-economics of CSA technologies; determine farmers’ willingness to accept CSA technologies; establish stakeholder perceptions of CSA technologies using the SWOT-AHP approach to ascertain their relative strength and weaknesses; determine business opportunities associated with developed CSA technologies; and investigate the most appropriate uptake pathways for scaling CSA technologies and limiting attrition rates once adopted.

Guest lectures

During the week-long visit, the Norwegian professors toured the project sites in Alebtong and Mubende districts and delivered guest lectures to the University community.

During the guest lectures delivered on 11th March 2022, Dr Alfred Obia from the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at Gulu University discussed the potential of biochar as a soil enhancer in crop production, shedding light on the effects of biochar on soil physical and chemical properties, and its contribution towards mitigating the effects of climate change. Biochar refers to carbonized biomass obtained from sustainable sources and sequestered in soils to sustainably enhance their productivity.

Prof Gerard Cornelissen, a technical expert at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, explained the process of making biochar from contaminated organic waste to clean-up water and soil, whereas Prof. Vegard Martinsen a researcher at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Principal Investigator of the ClimSmart and NORHED II projects shared insights into conservation agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa.

In his presentation titled “Testing the pigeon pea – biochar – maize value chain”, Jan Mulder, a Professor of Soil Science at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences explained how the pigeon pea and its biochar greatly enhance soil fertility through increased soil organic matter, improved water retention, improved retention nutrient cations, improved soil structure (aggregates), decreased erodibility, increased nitrogen availability and increased phosphorus availability.

Final article- ClimSmart & NORHED II projects 18th March 2022

Final article- ClimSmart & NORHED II projects 18th March 2022

Written by Hasifa Kabejja, Principal Communications Officer



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