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Overview

 

Where are we working?

In the drought-prone areas of Uganda, farmers depend particularly on dryland cereals and legumes, the productivity of which is often low due to drought, flash floods, parasitic weeds, insect, pests and diseases and decreasing soil fertility. Low productivity of key crops is compounded by limited access to quality seed and inadequate capacity to conserve genetic resources in resource-poor farming communities.

Focusing on three districts in northern and eastern Uganda, this Benefit-sharing Fund project is strengthening on-farm conservation and sustainable use of drought-tolerant plant genetic resources (sorghum, finger millet, pearl millets, cowpeas, pigeonpea, and groundnuts), in order to improve food security and adaptation to climate change of the most vulnerable rural communities.

 

What are we doing?

  • Identification of status, needs and problems associated with access to seed;
  • Germplasm collection, assembly, characterization, and evaluation to identify varieties for further crop improvement and conservation;
  • Conservation of identified materials ex situ in the national plant genetic resource centre, at NaSARRI and in community seed granaries (seed banks);
  • Development and implementation of an effective seed delivery model for the target communities to increase access to quality seed;
  • Training of selected farmers in production, conservation and marketing of Quality Declared Seed (QDS);
  • Establishment of demonstration gardens for quality seed production and community learning;
  • Organisation of field days, seed fairs and exchange visits among newly trained community seed producers to raise awareness and promote knowledge exchange.

 

What has been achieved to date?

Target crop germplasm has been characterized and evaluated: over 110 accessions of cowpea, 120 accessions of sorghum, 25 of pearl millet and 20 of finger millet have been evaluated and characterized. 738 pigeonpea genotypes have also been evaluated and characterized for major traits. To date, the project has sent 122 accessions of sorghum, two of cowpea, four of pigeon pea, two of groundnut, 25 of pearl millet, and two of finger millet to the National Plant Genetic Resource Centre (NPGRC) for conservation, while more is being fully evaluated before delivery.

 

Over 500 Kgs of seed has been supplied to the 30 participating farmer groups and select individual farmers for multiplication. Each of the participating farmer groups has also been supplied with other agricultural inputs for high quality seed production and together they have produced a total of 5,906 kg of quality seed to date.

30 demonstration gardens have been established and crop production brochures have been translated into the local languages Ateso and Luo. Training of trainers (ToT) has been conducted with a focus on postharvest handling of seeds, safe use and handling of pesticides, book and record keeping, and quality seed production. Moreover, the project has provided a platform for researchers to test and evaluate their research materials both in the field and with farmers.

 

Who has benefited?

The main beneficiaries of the project are the participating farmers and farmer groups. A total of 431 farmers (183 women and 248 men from 30 farmer groups) have directly benefited from the project through trainings, establishment of demonstration gardens, and receipt of inputs for quality seed production.

A further 935 farmers benefited directly through visits to the seed demonstration gardens, purchases of seed fairs and receipt of seed production brochures.

Over 200 students from Universities and colleges in the region have also benefited from the project through their internship period at NaSARRI.

 

Best practices and success stories

The trainings were very successful in promoting good agronomic practices as well as postharvest handling and pesticide safety. Most participants had previously been unaware of the dangers of mishandling chemicals and symptoms of poisoning. The introduction of simple postharvest techniques, such as the use of hermetic (triple) bags for storage and management of storage pests greatly improved conservation potentials.

Before project implementation, farmers in Kitgum and Amuria districts had never practiced the growing of crops during the second rainy season of the year (September-December) due to its relatively short length. Experiencing the success of growing early maturing crop varieties (60 – 90 days) has led to the adoption of this practice and a second harvest per year.

 

Crops

Cowpea et al., Finger Millet, Groundnuts, Pearl Millet, Pigeon Pea, Sorghum

 

Window 2 - Immediate action projects

 

Region: Africa

 

Target Countries: Uganda

 

Implementing institution: National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO)