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Crops & Natural Resource

Project 1: Improvement of banana production and productivity among smallholder farmers in Western Highlands Agroecological Zone

Introduction

Banana is the major staple food crop in central and southern parts of Uganda. Current national production is estimated at 10 million tonnes per annum, accounting for approximately 15% of the total global production and also a livelihood base for about 16 million Ugandans of whom 65% are urban dwellers. It is also a source of income and raw material for many products (chips, juice, animal feed and crafts). Banana production has been declining due to pest and disease pressure, low soil fertility, climatic and socio-economic factors. This has hindered access to clean planting materials by farmers leading to decline in yields. There is need for multiplication and promotion of varieties with traits. These include; resilience to tolerance to pests and diseases and responsive to soil fertility amendments. This project is aimed at improving the productivity of bananas among small holder farmers through rapid multiplication of improved and clean banana stocks in Western Highlands Agroecological Zone.

Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Rwebitaba ZARDI) is one of the Public Agriculture Research Institutes under the regulation of the National Agricultural Research Organization.

Reference to earlier work

Banana production shifted from central region to South Western Uganda, as a result of decline in banana productivity. Mean production in this region has dropped steadily, from 10t/ha (1970) to 4.5t/ha on subsistence farms. The constraints of banana production in central Uganda include; pest and diseases (banana bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt, banana weevils, nematodes), soil degradation and shortage of farm labour. This shift led to selection of improved banana cultivars and an increase in yield to about 30t/ha/yr in western region compared to 17t/ha in the central region. However these yields are far from those achievable on-station which range from 60 to 70 t/ha/yr and on-farms in Uganda.

    Project Objectives:

  • To assess the socioeconomic factors affecting banana production in the zone
  • To evaluate the performance of different banana varieties on station and on farm for desirable traits
  • To multiply and promote varieties with traits that meet client’s preferences
  • To increase yields by incorporating natural resource management technologies

    List of experiments in the project:

  • Establishment of socio-economic factors affecting banana productivity in the (WHZ)
  • On-station and on-farm evaluation of different banana cultivars for yield, tolerance to pests and diseases and desirable agronomic and culinary traits
  • Effect of decapitation techniques on five common banana varieties
  • Evaluation of performance of ten banana varieties under different fertilizer types and regimes
  • Effect of hedge rows on soil and water conservation in banana production

Project 2: Establishment of a sustainable farmer-based potato seed system in the Western Highland Zone

Background to the Problem (justification for research)

Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is an important food and cash crop in both rural and urban areas in Uganda. The most costly and critical factor in potato production is seed and ranges between US $ 700 - 800 per hectare. Uganda National Seed Potato Producers’ Association can hardly meet 1% of national seed demand. Average national potato yields range between 8-10 metric tonnes per hectare and yet yields between 30 and 35 metric tonnes per hectare are obtainable on-station using high quality seed and minimum inputs. The problem of low yields, therefore, seems to be technical in nature and could be solved by strengthening the seed systems and developing technological packages for potato production. The aim of this project is to establish a potato seed system in the zone to supplement the existing one.

Reference to earlier work

Potatoes have high protein-calorie ratio. Potato protein has higher biological value than that of milk and eggs. Although low in methionine, potato is quite rich in lysine and contains most of the essential amino acids. Because of its short growth cycle (60-130 days), potato can easily fit in the existing farming systems. In 1993, Uganda had the capacity to produce between 5,000 and 6,000 metric tonnes of certified seed to meet only 8% of the national seed demandbecause potato was no longer a monopoly for the high lands.

    Project Objectives:

  • To evaluate the performance of improved potato varieties with high potential in the zone
  • To establish the viability of producing potato seed in the zone
  • To demonstrate different potato seed management technologies
  • To multiply improved nuclear and basic seed stocks for potato seed growers
  • To promote post-harvest and value addition technologies

    List of experiments in the project:

  • On-station and on-farm evaluation of improved potato varieties in the Western highland Agro-ecological Zone
  • Determination of degeneration rate of improved potato varieties in the zone
  • Comparison of different potato storage techniques for efficiency and effectiveness
  • Evaluation of potato seed multiplication techniques in the western highland agro-ecological zone

Project 3: Improvement of agroforestry technologies for enhanced livelihoods in Western Highlands Agroecological Zone

Background to the Problem (justification for research)

Uganda’s economy is largely natural resource-based, with over 80% of the population living in rural areas and engaged in agro-pastoralism for food, wood and income. Trees in agroforestry systems are an integral part of the agricultural system since they have traditionally provided services and products for subsistence and sale in local markets. Uganda is grappling with the consequences of land degradation, global warming and climate change, with limited mitigation and adaptive measures instituted to address this world looming catastrophe. Integration of agroforestry technologies in the farming systems can provide benefits to farmers. Research efforts should be put on initiatives to address climate change adaptation among farming communities. The project will achieve this by supporting germ plasma production, soil fertility replenishment, water and soil conservation measures, tree planting and agroforestry and other sustainable agricultural practices on-station and on-farm.

Reference to earlier work

Uganda’s population heavily depends on the agricultural and forestry sectors for its livelihood. However, land and forest degradation remains a global concern because of its adverse impacts on agricultural production and the environment. It is estimated that 4%-12% of GNP is lost from environmental degradation, 85% of this from soil erosion and nutrient loss. A number of technologies have been developed though with limited evaluation and uptake by farmers. Incorporation of agroforestry technologies in farming systems is crucial for livelihood improvement through planting tree species that enhance household incomes and alter soil and forest degradation problems.

    Project Objectives:

  • To enhance germplasm production and multiplication of priority fruit trees for promotion in the zone
  • To evaluate performance of Apples, Mangoes and Citrus oranges in the zone
  • To evaluate sustainable land management technologies for improved land productivity in the zone

    List of experiments in the project:

  • On-station studies on pre-treatment, growth rates, pest and disease tolerance of tree seedlings in the nursery
  • On-station performance evaluation of Apples, and Mangoes and Citrus oranges
  • On-station evaluation of leguminous shrubs (Sesbania sesban, Leucaena tricandra, Tephrosia vogelli and Calliandra calothyrsus) for soil fertility replenishment and water conservation

Evaluation of trees and shrubs (Albizia chinensis, Calliandra calothyrsus and Leucaena species) for contour hedgerow technolology in banana and coffee Below are some of the pictures showing the different yields for the four varieties evaluated;

Potato Evaluation

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