N2 Africa starts activities in Uganda

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A follow-up workshop was conducted at Makerere University on 4th February 2013 to identify partners and to agree on start up activities for the N2Africa Project in Uganda. Participants at the workshop were research and development organizations including the Namulonge Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI) and National Semiarid Agricultural and Animal Research Institute (NaSAARI) of National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), Africa 2000 Network Uganda (A2N), VECO East Africa, Soyabean Products International, World Vision Uganda and the Department of Agricultural Production and Soyabean breeding and Seed Systems Project of Makerere University.

The strategy for the N2Africa project in Uganda is to work in partnership with various development and research and training institutions in the dissemination of legume technologies for improved productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Dissemination will follow the various approaches used by the different partners, set up as ‘randomized control trials’. Wageningen University will play a support role of linking and providing knowledge to the partners, priority human resource capacity development and infrastructure refurbishment so as to strengthen the national capacity in research and dissemination of legumes. Makerere University will take the lead in the coordination of the project and will be supported by the IITA Uganda Office.

In starting up the project in Uganda, priority is on dissemination of the best available legume technologies in the areas where the key identified partners operate. However other relevant partners will be brought on board with time. Critical in the partnerships are the synergies amongst the partners. The research Institutes have high yielding and disease tolerant varieties: Climbing and bush beans with the National Bean Research Programme (NaCRRI) and CIAT, rosette tolerant groundnut varieties (NaSAARI); rust tolerant soyabean varieties (Makerere University); fertilizer packages and linkages to markets (IFDC), and Rhizobium inoculants production (Makerere University). For the development partners, Africa 2000 Network Uganda is an extension organization that uses a group approach to disseminate technologies through on-farm demonstrations at village level led by community based facilitators. Soyabean Products International multiplies soyabean seed in collaboration with farmers and with the SRSS project of Makerere University for quality assurance. They are also delving into processing soyabean into various value added products. VECO East Africa works with farmers to empower them to increase production and productivity and organized marketing. World Vision Uganda uses participatory technology development approaches, largely the farmer field schools approach and collaborates with research institutions for technical knowledge to empower communities to address food security issues. IITA has vast experience in faming systems characterization and will support the project in the randomized control experimentation as well as graduate student supervision.

Implementation of the activities during the first season of 2013 will be in the southwestern region (highlands of Kabale and Kisoro) for climbing bean, northern region (Apac, Oyam, Kole and Lira) for soyabean and eastern region (Serere, Pallisa Bukedea and Tororo districts) for groundnut.

Research issues for dissemination support identified in Uganda included strengthening research - dissemination linkages and particularly establishing systems for quality seed provision; assessing effectiveness of different materials for improved storage of soyabean, and developing ways to enhance availability of stakes for climbing beans and getting seed companies interested in promoting climbing beans. Agronomic and economic research issues include establishing limiting nutrients to legume production in the various farming systems and zone specific fertilizer application recommendations (in cooperation with IFDC); input levels and management practices to maximize productivity of legume intercrops; processing and value addition for beans; nitrogen fixation capacities of the legume varieties under the various production systems; isolation of native rhizobium strains and improvement of inoculant quality. The research will be prioritized according to constraints urgently felt by partners and taken into account in the implementation plans that will be jointly developed.

Peter Ebanyat