Horticulture farming offers an opportunity for many smallholder farmers in Uganda to find a route out of poverty. However, climate change manifesting itself through increased occurrence of drought, seasonal variations and temperature increase has caused tremendous losses to these farmers due to their reliance on rainfed agriculture. Investment in irrigation has been proven as a viable solution to adapt to the challenge of climate change, as it would allow all-year farming. Use of solar technology in powering irrigation pumps has made even a more worthwhile investment. However, majority of the farmers in Uganda lack irrigation skills and face limited access to irrigation equipment. Previous efforts to promote year-round production and access to irrigation equipment have focused on subsidizing systems for farmers but this has not yielded sustainable results as farmers end up with inappropriate equipment and have limited operation and maintenance skills.
It is against this background that GGGI partnered with Danish Church Aid (DCA) to embarked on a capacity building program for farmers in West Nile on the use of solar powered irrigation. DCA mobilized over 200 farmers from mainly Arua and Terego districts, 50% fof which were female farmers. A participatory approach that involved both theoretical classroom sessions and field practical sessions was employed throughout the training program. Training evaluation results indicate that up to 88% of the participants were satisfied with the training.
The main objective of the intervention was to train farmers on practical operation and maintenance of SPIS and CSA practices and as well motivate farmers into acquire SPIS equipment at their farm for sustainable development. The training specifically addressed the following.
- introduced SPIS best practices to the farmers, water catchment management, water use efficiency and climate smart agriculture practices.
- Prepared farmers technically to access SPIS kits market suppliers
The objectives and targets of the training were successfully achieved. The participants were very interested and excited about the different SPIS technologies. Generally, participants appreciate the content as it is very relevant to both their lives and communities. The key areas of learning for the farmers include the different irrigation methods, use and application of solar power in irrigation, sustainable farming practices, Keeping records and economic evaluation of the crop enterprise.
Additional follow-on capacity building sessions are being considered and will focus on the following themes; water source development and access, integration of both crop and animal production, crop nutrition (use of fertilizer), agricultural machinery, and marketing of the produce.
Furthermore, since SPIS is generally expensive, GGGI and DCA may investigate innovative financing models to help interested farmers acquire SPIS equipment