Working in the fishing District of Buikwe for the last two years has strongly been a drive to this project due to the high levels of poverty, poor crop production, starvation and malnutrition within the district. A government ban on fishing has been a huge devastation to the fishing communities that solely survived on fishing and is now struggling to get into agriculture as a new way of income generation. This is a huge motivation for me to find possible ways I can increase maize crop production, maize seed quality, storage and product value-addition as means to increase incomes of these poor vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Buikwe District.
The project objectives are improved rural livelihoods and quality maize production through value-addition programs like processing, packaging and branding as alternatives to attract extra household finances, improved levels of awareness for the locals towards sustainable agricultural production, build capacities of CBOs and partners to effectively respond to disasters and implement socially inclusive and innovative community based maize crop change adaptation and mitigation. The project also aims to enhance sharing, learning and reflection on practical experience and good models of farming/crop change mitigation and adaptation for integration at local and national level, improved household food security through involvement in enhanced productivity, reduced poor harvest handling losses through promotion and use of good drying techniques and storage of maize produce and creation of sustainable market linkages.
Maize is one of the staple foods in Uganda. Its production has decreased over the years as people change their consumption trends within the fishing districts. It has evolved from a purely subsistence to a successful commercial crop. Maize in Uganda is sold mainly for food to schools, relief by World Food Programme (WFP) or as an export to neighbouring countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Burundi. Maize production has improved with the adoption of improved technologies by farmers. These technologies include improved seed qualities like hybrid and open pollinated varieties, timely planting, and proper spacing and timely weeding and harvesting. Use of fertilizers for soil fertility has been encouraged as well as minimum or zero-tillage by use of herbicides. On average, 1,700,000 MT (UBOS, 2007) is estimated as the annual maize production. Of this, 90% is used for national human consumption, locally and 10% on animal feeds. The overall objective is in accordance with the Government Agricultural policy of increasing food production and diversification of the present farming system so as to attain sustainable food security and income generation.
The project aims to identify opportunities for maize as an enterprise, value chain, and optimize appropriate postharvest technologies to enhance the income generating capacities of poor disadvantaged local fishing families/farmers banned from fishing in the fishing sub-counties in Buikwe District, thus promoting quality maize crop production to improve nutrition and household incomes. The under mentioned strategies will be carried out to achieve the set project objectives through community mobilisation and sensitisation for the further understanding of the project, training of local farming/CBO group executives on the planning, implementation, monitoring and management of the maize crop production project, registration of targeted local households beneficiaries within the operational communities, purchase and distribution of quality maize viable seeds. Distribution will be made easy by the local trained farming/CBO group executives and supervision, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of project activities.
The depletion of the forest and tree crop due to demands for fuel, wood and timber for survival due to the Government ban on fishing has increased run off and soil erosion especially on derived watersheds leading to loss of soil nutrients, situation of waterways and damage to fisheries. The project when fully implemented will embark on activities that will conserve the environment.
A wide variety of weeds do compete with maize at all stages of the growing season and the heavy weed pressure reduces yields and cuts into profits. Maize as a crop is often known to grow under conditions not suited for other crops, variable weather, disease and pest pressure but this has kept growers from realising the full potential of their cultivated land. This project aims at working with maize crop growers in these less privileged fishing communities to understand changing conditions and develop solutions to help realize the full potential of maize farming in Buikwe District. The project will offer a range of products for reliable protection of maize appearance and quality, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides such as Acanto, Accent and Steward.
The project is targeting to work and benefit about 200 small holder farmers. At least 400 households with food security through household involvement in enhanced productivity. Increase by 60% of household incomes through collective marketing and gainful market access, improved social capital through the long lost traditional community values of self-help community projects and increased self-worth of household women and girls at community and household levels. The project will have a special focus on women, the young and upcoming farmers mostly out of school, unemployed youth that have land for farming. The project intends to encourage women who are involved in agriculture to actively participate because 85% of maize production is done by them. The social benefit includes improved harmony among family members since the income received shall be effectively utilized through household economic empowerment training. The high number of HIV patients in this region will be able to transport themselves to the few established health centres, buy their medicines and have balanced diets with the funds got. Direct benefits will include improved incomes at household levels, improved information flow and increased participation in maize growing. The methodology to be adopted by the project is the participatory approach. The project will operate on local established farms on individual land at the same time distribute available inputs to the project beneficiaries. These inputs will be recovered and recycled to other beneficiaries until all project members are served.
The project beneficiaries will participate in the identification and planning of the project since it deals with economic well-being. During the implementation of the project, beneficiaries will contribute unskilled labor, land for cultivation, storage houses/stores and other agricultural tools like hoes, rakes, pangas, axes etc.
This project when fully implemented will serve as a model or pilot project which will be replicated in the other neighbouring fishing districts. The project members, beneficiaries and communities are responsible for monitoring project implementation and make necessary recommendations at general and executive meetings for effective decision-making. Observations, field visits and group discussions will form part of the participatory monitoring methodology.
Michael Kakande, Uganda