Archive for the ‘Climate’ Category

LANDSCAPE AND AGRO-FORESTRY

Agro-forestry refers to practice of carrying on agriculture and forestry in the same place, while agriculture refers to all practices which are carried out to produce crops, livestock, and forestry refers to growing of trees. Agro-forestry may therefore involve

·         The growing of trees and crops in the same place

·         The raising of livestock and trees in the same place

These forms of aggro-forestry in which crops and trees are planted in the same place is known as ago-silviculture and the form where tree are grown in pasture is known as Silvia-pasture where the pasture is harvested and taken to live stock in a separate area.

Most farmer in Uganda depend on rain for growing than crops and pastures and poor exposed soils do not hold much water when it rains on such soils, most of the water runoff, and if the farmer planted the seeds, the little water left in the ground will help the seeds to germinate, and after a few sunny days, most of the water evaporates and the soils become very dry and the crops start to wilt and dry up.

By practicing agro forestry (agrosilvienlture) may improve the water holding capacity of the soil, failure to improve can, led to crops loss which will occur year after year. If the soil is able to hold water for a long time, the effect of drought may be less deratanting than other wise.

Trees provide shade for live stock but some trees are used as folder for live stock.

Environment conditions such as drought, floods, wind, hailstorms and others don’t affect individual farmers, but affect all farmers; it affects all farmers such environment problems should be tackled communally, and the only way of tackling these problems is by practicing agro forestry.

Land scape can be changed by use of agro forestry, and a community may be able to change its landscape and influence some environmental factors by concerted effort in trees planting. In this way farmers will be able to choose not only where they need trees and in what quantities but also, which varieties suit each place most.

Individual farmers can only make decisious affecting their own farms, but a community is able to discuss and implement ideas in the whole area. While a single farmer may have very little influence of landscape outside his farm, a community working together can transform it in only a generation.

By

Mulopi J

Importance of Agro-Forestry

Although the word systems and practices are used synonymously in agro-forestry literature, a distinction can be drawn between them. Agro-forestry is a collective name for land use system and technologies in which woody perennials are deliberately used on the same land management units or agricultural crops and animals in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence.

Home gardens are used loosely to mean several practices, such as growing vegetables behind the house. In agro-forestry terminology, home garden are mixed plantings where multipurpose trees and shrubs are grown in intimate association with annual and perennial crops / livestock’s under the management of family labor within the compound of individual house.

Food production is the primary function of most home gardens and it is almost continuous throughout the year. The intimate mixture of various agricultural crops and multipurpose trees meet the basic needs of the local population while the multistoried configuration and high species diversity of home gardens help reduce the environmental deterioration.
It is estimated that every year millions of acres of land fall out of production due to soil degradation, and the most prevalent of soil degradation are nutrient depletion and soil erosion. Soil degradation is a major problem particularly in our developing countries where effective erosion control measures, and nutrient replenishment is seldom practiced.
In Mayuge for instance, many farmers cultivate on the same piece of land year in and year out without fallowing or applying manure / fertilizer, resulting in consistence decline of biological potential of the soil in form of reduced yields. Trees are known to improve and maintain soil fertility using agro-forestry as a low input system for famers.
For a soil to be fertile its physical, chemical and biological properties need to be conducive for the plant growth by improving on the physical, chemical and biological status of the soils……….trees can enhance crop performance.

Mulopi Joseph

Plant Trees for Firewood Near Home

 

 It is known that the need for firewood can lead to deforestation, which damages the environment and makes difficult to find firewood. Women and children often do the hard work of collecting and carrying wood for fuel home and also face physical and sexual violence when travel to collect wood.

By planting and maintaining good firewood trees close to home the people who collect wood can stay safe and healthy. Trees planted near home provide shade, which helps to keep the environment cool and fresh, and also for proper supervision and reduce physical and sexual violence.

What I mean with sexual violence is that in most cases women and girls are raped during the course of looking for firewood from long distances and in thick bushes. Women may be particularly interested in planting firewood trees if they are well sensitized.

Many trees used in agro-forestry like Leucaena, sesbania, calliandra are ideal to plant as firewood , and also are all members of the pea family so they help put nitrogen into the soil which improves the fertility of the soil for farming…..Celac members plant these trees for firewood, animal feed and soil fertility.

By

Joseph Mulopi

Celac Mayuge District.

GATHERING TREE SEEDS

 

As many trees are being cut down and little replacement is being done, the most useful trees have disappeared and yet we need them for our personal and medicinal uses. It is good if farmers develop a habit of collecting seeds of different types, and if you can make it a habit to carry small or old envelops so that you can collect any useful good and healthy tree seeds you come across.

 Collect only fully ripen seeds from strong healthy trees and that which are best examples of the trees available. Seeds in pods or fruits need to be removed and those which are sticky fruits needs to be soaked in water first before removing them then be dried properly for storage.

Seeds must be very well dried before storing, and use clear labels on each seed container for remembrance. Some seeds, especially those that are very hard may stay good for many years; however soft seeds such as Neem, kei-apple and moringa only keep for a few weeks. Use fresh seeds for planting whenever possible….Celac members learn to gather good useful seeds.

 By: Mulopi Joseph

 Celac Mayuge Distric

GM crops for African farmers,a way to go?

Due to the fast growing populations in Africa, stagnating agricultural productivity, and increasing climate change, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Africa to tackle poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
Adoption of Genetically Modified Crops is one of the ways that could significantly reduce the scarcity of food and as a result reduce prices in developing countries.
In GM crop bleeding scientists find natural bacteria that can produce toxin or a protein that kills insects and then find whether the gins that produce that vitamin share the same DNA with the plant. Since all the living creatures share same DNA, it is easy to put genes from specie to another or from an animal into a plant to make it more resistant and eventually the plant produces important proteins itself. Then the modified seeds that come from a new crop are called GM or BT seeds that yield the better and modified crops.
Since the GM technology is simply adding virus resistant genes to crops that are also proved to be herbicide tolerant and have an improved crop production, it is the only option to fight food scarcity in Africa, though Ugandan farmers seem not to understand it well and those who have had a chance are still skeptical.
Therefore, some farmers suspect that GM foods have hidden health and environmental risks.
The most advantage in the Genetically Modified Crop Farming is that it reduces costs of pesticides and labor since they produce a protein that kills insects and then the herbicides used can not affect crops
South Africa led the way in terms of Agricultural biotechnology, Kenya also passed a similar legislation “Kenya Biosafety law” in february 2009, Mali and Togo enacted the national biosafety legislations in 2008 but Uganda seem to be hesitant.
Just like some other African governments, Uganda government fear loosing their biggest trade partner, Europe where GM foods is banned. However there is hope now for Uganda government to change the position on GM foods.
On contrary, Gullaume Gruere an agricultural bio-scientist at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington thinks that GM cotton can not be banned by any country since people world-wide do not eat it. Therefore, in cotton consumers need not know as it does not make difference to them.
Doctors say that Uganda is in process of putting in place a regulatory system for modern biotechnology. They add that the country needs this system in place before they can commercialize GM. “We need first to handle them at the research level [and] at experimental level, you need to understand how the farmers should handle it, what are the implications to the small scale farmers and to relatively bigger farmers, what is the relatively implications and how do you make sure that there is equity.
Uganda’s agricultural productivity can be primarily enhanced by adopting GM crops like soybean, Maize and cotton that are also Uganda’s commonly grown crops.

The biggest fear of Ugandan farmers is that GM seeds would be expensive to purchase as every after some few years modified crops gets weakened.
According to border control reports, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have no restrictions on GM foods.

Peterson Ssendi a reporter in Kampala – Uganda

How Can Farmers in Rural Uganda Cope With Global Worming

By Mary Nakirya

The photo below shows an area in Butalejja where swamps have been cleared for rice cultivation. Such areas are prone to effects of global worming.

It is obvious that in Uganda there is an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather like storms, floods and droughts which are common in many parts of the country. This in turn has affected the growing and harvesting seasons; distribution and production of fish in ponds, rivers and lakes.

It has also increased the occurrence of pests and diseases which further lead to low crop production. Global worming worsens soil and water degradation. Increased droughts due to global worming critically reduce the amount of food produced.

However farmers can use effective methods to limit this weather damage by adopting and improving farming methods.

• Plant trees to prevent erosion and flooding of especially areas near water bodies.

• Plant crops that are not so much affected by to strong winds e.g. Root crops like yams and cassava.

• It is important that farmers make proper plans before planting so as in case of disaster, they are not badly affected.

• Avoid planting temporary crops on very steep slopes. Plant trees and grass bands to stop erosion.

• Avoid burning because it increases erosion

• Keep land covered with vegetation or mulch at all times. This will save the land even during the time of strong winds and floods.

• Use recommended planting material to establish wind breaks in order to protect the soil and crops from being swept away.

Floods; Amenace to farmers?

By Mary Nakirya

A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land, temporary covering it.

It is unfortunate that much as certain areas like swamps, coasts etc flood, the community still continue to buy and settle in such land. The fact these people continue to reside in areas threatened by flood damage is a proof that the apparent values of living near the water go beyond the cost of constant periodic flooding.

The major problems of flooding include:

  • Contamination of water. Clean drinking water becomes scarce.
  • Unhygienic conditions associated with flooded water often leads to diseases.
  • Shortage of food crops can be caused due to loss of harvests and washing away of gardens.
  • Non-tolerant types of trees usually die from suffocation by water.
  • Leads to damage of structure, like bridges, buildings, sewerage systems, roads, etc.
  • Structures like as buildings get damaged due to flood water.
  • People and livestock die due to drowning.

Methods of controlling floods:

  • These methods include planting vegetation to retain extra water.
  • Terracing hillsides to slow flow downhill
  • Construction of man-made channels to divert water and prevent it from flooding

However flooding has some few benefits such as making soil more fertile and providing nutrients in which it is deficient. This increases their farm products leading to improved livelihood.

It also leads to increase in fish which is a very good source of proteins for a farmer.

What you should know about soil erosion and how to avoid it.

A natural forest that has never been disturbed by cutting down of trees, ploughing of land, burning or killing of animals and insects is said to be in balance. However, this natural balance does not apply to most land under cultivation, because many agricultural practices disturb the balance in nature.

Too often this result in loss of soil through erosion and cause the reduction of soil fertility. With good farming practices much can be done to restore the soil fertility.

Soil conservation includes all the agricultural practices that are employed in order to maintain or improve the soil. It is also necessary as farmers to learn about some soil and crop management practices that lead to soil infertility in order to avoid them from the extension workers through our groups.

Top soil is the first layer of the soil and dark in color because it contains humus and humus consists of materials from dead animal’s and plants that are partly decayed. The more humus in the top soil the more fertile the soil is. This is because humus gives the soil a good structure for air and water to penetrate. Top soil contains many nutrients that plants need and is often 20 – 30 cm deep.

Soil erosion is when the soil is moved away by either wind or water and every year tons of good top soil are washed away from the fields and is by wind or rain. Washing away of top soil usually happens where the soil is bare and is worse on slopes and hill sides taking away all the humus necessary for our crops.

It is necessary to prevent our soil from being washed away by erosion in order to retain the fertility of our land. A fertile soil will always give good result to the crops grown on it. If the soil is infertile, the reverse is true

To avoid all this make contour across the sloping fields. If the ploughing or digging is done across the contours even on slightly sloping fields it can lead to severe erosion.

Sloping areas without contours bounds or terraces will lead to severe erosion.

Cutting down trees or lack of wind breakers will lead to soil erosion especially if the field is tilled and lies bare. Plant a tree whenever you cut one to replace the cut one.

Mulopi Joseph, CELAC Mayuge

Water Harvesting to Rescue Farmers from Fluctuating Prices

By Kirega A

The major problems faced by farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and most specifically in Uganda are a result of over dependence on natural conditions and “Gods mercy” in determining the fate of the quantity and  quality of their produce most especially rain.

This is the main reason behind highly fluctuating agricultural commodity prices with very low –  farmer discouraging prices during the rainy seasons when supply exceeds demand and in the dry seasons  where the supply of agricultural commodities tends to be very low as compared to demand  fetching relatively higher prices as demand exceeds supply.

Water harvesting is the solution. It may be expensive for a local farmer to afford expensive water tanks and water from the roof tops may not be enough due to competing domestic uses like washing, drinking and Bathing among others.

Make ditches that are as wide as a well in the middle of your garden and make trenches following water run ways to direct water to the ditch. You may use any material that can help to keep the water in the ditch for a long time; if possible you can cement it. You will use this water in the rainy season to irrigate you crops during the dry season.

Also make other small ditches that will keep water for some time enabling it to go into the soil other than just running off hence causing soil erosion. This will not only help to save the water but also the soil hence a good soil conservation practice for a more profitable farming.

Mangoes for Good Health

By Mulopi Joseph

Mango fruits which originated from south East Asia are now wildly spread in the world with more than 1000 types grown in different areas.

Mangoes are fruits with a good source of minerals such as
Copper and potassium. They contain traces of magnesium, manganese, selenium,
Calcium, iron and phosphorus.

Mangoes are also rich in vitamin C and A. Vitamin C content is more in raw mangoes as compared to that in ripe mango. It also has traces of vitamin E, B and vitamin K.

It is said that the nutritional value of mangoes make it good
for weight gain, eye disorders, hair loss, morning sickness, piles, etc. Raw
Mangoes contain starch which is converted into sugar as the fruit ripens.

These sugars are very useful in weight gain when consumed with milk which is rich in protein.

Farmers are advised to grow mangoes in their gardens and compound for that extra nutrition.