MSc research in Kapchorwa district Uganda

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"Who is that white man with his walking stick and that little guy?" farmers started asking other farmers. I climbed many hills (I tried to do this as well with a bunch of banana on my head: nearly impossible), sloped down slippery hills on rubber boots and did this all together with my soil probe and my (female) translator. It was an unforgettable rich experience and I want to thank the project and the Ugandan farmers and people for that!

Two months of fieldwork on the slopes of mount Elgon (Uganda) have come to an end. In Kapchorwa district, where I was situated, demonstration plots were planted with eleven different treatments for climbing beans. Not only different varieties were used, also different fertilizer inputs and different staking methods were implemented.

These demonstration plots are the control of my study on the further adaptation of these techniques by so called ‘focal trial farmers’: A group of farmers, who in this case received seeds and fertilizer. Many of these farmers were present when the demonstration plots were planted and they now all have their own diverse practices and reasons for (not) planting the beans. One of the aims of this research is to evaluate the extent to which farmers adapt new techniques and what we (as project and researchers) can learn from this.

To collect the data for this study I used a tablet, which was a good new experience: not only because less paper was used, also because data could be collected faster (GPS and pictures were directly linked to each questionnaire) and could be stored very quickly.

Furthermore, during field days we evaluated the different treatments in the demonstration plots by making use of images, that each represented one treatment. It needed some explanation in the beginning, but afterwards farmers enthusiastically entered the demonstration plots.

Now I’m back in the Netherlands again, to get started writing my thesis. I know I’ll be back one day!

Laurie van Reemst

(Published before on Facebook on 8 January 2015)