Coffee and bananas are key crops in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger as well as ensuring environmental sustainability in Uganda. However, production of both crops is far below the attainable yields, mainly due to abiotic (soil, water, temperature) and biotic (pests, diseases, weeds) stresses. Modern research has identified integrating shade trees in coffee-banana systems as the entry point for re-establishing productivity of both crops. However, these systems have not yet been fully quantified and there are no recommendations on how (or if) to intercrop with regard to optimal planting arrangements; shade management regimes; and best soil, water, and crop management options. This study will explore the best coffee-banana agroforestry combinations to achieve the best trade-offs in food, income, risks, and environmental sustainability. Specifically, it will (1) characterize existing coffee-banana agroforestry systems; (2) identify biotic and abiotic constraints including farmers’ coping strategies; (3) generate an improved Integrated Crop Management package; (4) develop advocacy and lobby tools that can strengthen the value chain; and (5) develop capacity for research and promote synergies among actors along the value chain. A questionnaire will be administered to 500 randomly selected households in the five major coffee growing regions of Uganda to gather data on various socioeconomic and agricultural topics. Another questionnaire will be administered to various value chain actors to elicit information on perceptions on improvements in the input/output markets and potential for premium prices for shade-grown coffee. Field diagnostic studies will also be conducted, and extension and training materials on best practices will be developed for farmers, extension, students, researchers and other stakeholders.
The ultimate development impact of this project is to improve agriculture and sustainable environmental management in Uganda. Managing the abiotic, biotic, and socioeconomics constraints will result in improved production and profitability of both bananas and coffee, which should lead to improved income at the household and national levels through increased sales of the crops. Ecologically, the project will promote environmental sustainability through conservation of biodiversity and mitigation of microclimatic extremes, thus aiding in adaptation to climatic change. In the long run, this information could be scaled up to other farmers in Lake Victoria region with similar farming systems. In addition, the project will contribute to building and improving research capacity for the Coffee Research Center through training of two Master’s-level students and provision of short-term courses to students, research technicians, and other COREC staff.
Summary of Recent Activities
During the summer, Dr. Kagezi visited US partner Dr. Perfecto at the University of Michigan where he held discussions with her students and fellow researchers (including Prof. Bilal who is looking at how the Masaii in Kenya are utilizing mobile phones in herding) with the goal of establishing the grounds for further collaboration. Additionally, Dr. Kagezi attended the PEER conference in Arusha, Tanzania and he, along with two team members also attended the annual National Agricultural Show in Jinja, Uganda where they presented their PEER-funded project. Additionally, the two graduate students, Ms. Lilian Nakibuule and Ms. Judith Kobusinge, both successfully presented their research proposals to the university and were authorized to conduct their research.
In addition their travels, the project team also made a unique discovery. During their survey in southwestern Uganda (Bundibugyo district), the research team observed and identified a relatively new coffee pest for the first time in Uganda. A follow-up mini survey funded by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCD) was conducted. The results were presented in a National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) conference held at Entebbe, Uganda. Their presentation is being developed into a manuscript to be submitted to the Uganda Journal of Agricultural Sciences (UJAS).
In the next quarter, the socioeconomic surveys will continue in the remaining three coffee-banana agroforestry regions of Uganda composed of the northern region, mid-eastern region, and Mt. Elgon. In addition, detailed field diagnostic surveys will be conducted in selected coffee-banana-agroforestry farms across the country. This will also include collecting soil and plant samples for laboratory analysis. The graduate students will continue with their course work at the Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi for the second year.
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