Combating the impact of climate change on smallholder farmers requires a sector shift from subsistence farming practices which have become “business as usual” to embracing practices and technology that mitigates the risks of drought, flooding, and disease outbreaks.
The Production Department of Mayuge district local Government together with Swisscontact’s Dynamic Market for Farmers – Sustainable Cocoa and Beekeeping Uganda (DMU) project on September 22nd, 2022 organized a farmer’s field day in Mayuge at Bukawongo in Imanyiro sub-county. The networking and learning event was organized to: increase the visibility of cocoa as a commercially viable cash crop, highlight the climate-smart agronomic practices and technology with the potential to increase production and productivity, promote the integration of food crops as a measure against food insecurity, and create linkages between cocoa farmers and service providers.
Over 320 cocoa farmers from Mayuge and neighboring districts participated in the event in which several cocoa buyers, chocolate processors, financial institutions, and an irrigation provider exhibited. The cocoa farmers who attended the event got the opportunity to learn about climate-smart practices such as mulching, pruning which are effective measures against cocoa pest and diseases; water conservation techniques such as trenches and shade tree management using bananas and indigenous tree species; and the use of irrigation techniques for alternative water sources.
Promised Land, ESCO Chocolate, VINKA Chocolate, and Latitude Craft Chocolate exhibited chocolate made in Uganda and post-harvesting equipment. In their joint remark, the businesses present mentioned that they were glad that more farmers were adopting and growing cocoa, and further encouraged cocoa farmers to maintain consistent quality of cocoa beans for assured markets.
Patrick Ngobi, the representative of cocoa farmers in Mayuge district, called for better regulation of the sector by the district authority. “There is need for the authorities to pass an ordinance to regulate the sector, in addition to building the capacity of community-based facilitators to support provision of advisory services to cocoa farmers. This will incentivize farmers to produce high quality cocoa”, he remarked.
A representative of Centenary Bank, one of the leading financial institutions serving over 1.8 million customers in Uganda, emphasized the need for farmers to open bank accounts as a requirement to access low-interest agricultural loans, and encouraged farmers to embrace agent banking services through their various agents within Mayuge district.
AKVO International, a leading provider of Agricultural solar power solutions including Irrigation, exhibited affordable irrigation technologies suited for both smallholder and large-scale cocoa farmers.
The nearby farm of one of the prominent cocoa farmers acted as a demonstration farm. The 2-hour demonstrations were facilitated by agronomists from Mayuge District Production Department, ESCO Chocolate, and Promised Land. The demonstrations emphasized simple but effective climate-smart practices for increasing cocoa production, disease, and soil management.
Together with Swisscontact’s, Mayuge district local Government has been promoting viable food crops to address persistent food insecurity among cocoa farmers by enabling access to inputs and skills. The project intervention to promote food security among cocoa farmers has enabled 300 farmers to access improved banana planting materials, 1,500 farmers to adopt climate-smart agronomic practices, and 100 cocoa farmers to access day-old SASSO chicks and extension support.
Together with the DMU project, Mayuge district has been promoting viable food crops to address persistent food insecurity among cocoa farmers in Mayuge by enabling access to inputs and skills which are climate smart. The project intervention to promote food security among cocoa farmers has enabled 300 farmers to access improved banana planting materials, 1,500 farmers to adopt climate-smart agronomic practices and 100 cocoa farmers to access day-old SASSO chicks and extension support.
Peter Kasadha, the District Agricultural Officer, in his remarks said the district will continue to support experiential learning for farmers through farm demonstrations and seasonal cocoa field day events, “We have set up a crop demonstration farm at the district headquarters. A second and bigger demonstration farm will be set up at Imanyiro, and soon in every sub-county"
In his remarks, Felix Opio, the DMU project manager expressed the need for farmers and stakeholders to build stronger and sustainable collaborations that will strengthen the cocoa sector. He emphasized the need to embrace the idea of experiential learning and farm demonstration model as the practical way of improving quality standards of cocoa, good agronomic practices, and food security in Mayuge district and beyond.
This project is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.