Ugandan coffee farmers increase yields through Climate-Smart Agriculture technologies
16-02-2021 07:48:34 | by: Bob Koigi | hits: 3688 | Tags:

The IITA Uganda Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Program supports the Ugandan Government in its commitment to increasing coffee quality, volumes, and smallholder farmer livelihoods.

The Institute’s activities closely align with the country’s agricultural agenda, with the IITA team collaborating with the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to implement the Uganda Coffee Roadmap.

By developing the Stepwise Climate Smart Investment Pathway (Stepwise) approach, IITA Uganda and partners under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) are promoting increased smallholder coffee farmer adoption of CSA practices in Uganda. Stepwise is helping farmers increase their yields and income through a practical stepped process towards applying good agricultural and CSA practices to manage their coffee farms.

Test data from private-sector impact partners, Olam and Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung Foundation, demonstrated the Stepwise approach’s success showing more than 70% increase in yields and a 58% increase in adoption of good agricultural practices (GAP) among participating farmers in Mount Elgon and Luwero in central Uganda.

With the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working made it possible to get more people involved in the conversation. Extension services have evolved, using ICT decision support tools and technologies to disseminate essential information to agents and farmers. This enabled the team to achieve an even greater level of efficiency.

The Stepwise Smartphone Application, the Shade Tree Advice Smartphone Application, and a participatory farmer evaluation approach used in implementing Stepwise all demonstrated success in the 2019/2020 period. IITA collaborated with World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) to ensure that the Shade Tree Advice Smartphone Application content is evidence-based. The Government of Uganda and private sector agroforestry and coffee experts in Uganda also validated the tool content.

In 2021, IITA intends to continue to promote successful CSA technologies. The Institute will move into a scaling phase of these technologies, with the Stepwise Smartphone Application already accessible from Google Play Store.

In an article for the Uganda Coffee Platform Annual Report 2019-2020, IITA Scientist Sarah Margiotta said, “Through active engagement in global consortia such as the Living Income Community of Practice ISEAL Alliance, IITA will continue to bring new learning and innovations from around the world to the Uganda platform. Similarly, through shared learning and successes from the Uganda research, IITA will continue to leverage the private sector and development partner commitment and resourcing of CSA in Uganda.”

Though the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many sectors, Margiotta noted that it offers agriculture, and the coffee subsector in particular, an opportunity to reflect on work methods and come together to harmonize the various tools and approaches already existing.

“With continuing support from USAID, GIZ, and other internal partners such as the Sustainable Food Lab, the IITA CSA Program in Uganda will continue to conduct research projects that allow for the design, testing, and scaling of innovative and sustainable approaches to improve the quality, yields, and smallholder farmer livelihoods and the transformation of Uganda’s coffee sector.