Production and Marketing
The Chief Administrative Officer
Ngora District Local Government
RE: REPORT ON TRAINING OF FARMERS ON SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE/ LIVESTOCK FARMING
Rationale of the training
Ngora District has an average household land holding of approximately two acres. The type of farming in the Teso region requires mixed farming in order to have food of both plant and animal origin. Most of the households depend on agriculture for their food and income. Most households have failed to meet their obligations due to limited yields that they get from the small pieces of land. To compound the problem the more, these small pieces of land are not all that naturally fertile, so the soil needs replenishing. This therefore calls for equipping farmers with knowledge on sustainable agriculture/ livestock farming principles and practices.
The training was brought at this time of the year such that, farmers will understand how good is it to sustainably use the products from animals to make the soil fertile for crop production. Besides that this is the time when farmers harvest crops so there is need to teach them not to burn crop residues or throw them away, instead; they should use it for feeding animals in the coming dry season and the dung and urine produced by the animals to be used for fertilizing their gardens plus production of biogas for fuel and lighting. The milk, eggs, meat and other products from the animals including the sale of live animals are used for food and income for the families.
The training was participatory and involved probing the participants to find out what they knew about sustainable agriculture. The facilitator went ahead to introduce sustainable agriculture as explained below:
Participants busy taking notes during a training on sustainable agriculture .
Sustainable agriculture is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site specific application that will last over a long time. For example , to satisfy human food and fiber needs to enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends on making it most efficient use of non renewable and on farm and integrated natural cycles and controls to sustain the economic viability of farm operations and to enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.
The key principles associated with sustainable agriculture include;
The in cooperation of biological and ecological processes into agricultural and food production practices, for instance nutrient cycling, soil regeneration and nitrogen fixation.
Using reduced amounts of f non – renewable and unsustainable inputs particularly those ones that are environmentally harmful
Using the expertise of farmers to both productively work the land as well as to promote the self reliance and self sufficiency of farmers
Solving agricultural and natural resources problems through the cooperation and collaboration of people with different skills. The problems tackled include pest management and irrigation
Sustainable agriculture depends on replenishing the soil while minimizing the use of or need of non renewable resources such as natural gas which is used for converting atmospheric nitrogen into synthetic fertilizers or mineral ores such as phosphates. Possible sources of nitrogen that would in principle be available indefinitely include;
Recycling crop waste and livestock or treated human manure
Growing legume crops and forages such as peanuts and alfalfa that form symbiosis with nitrogen fixing bacteria called rhizobia.
In some areas, sufficient rainfall is available for crop growth but many other areas require irrigation. For irrigation systems to be sustainable, they require proper management to avoid Stalinization and must not use more water from their source than is naturally replinishable.
Farmers were still practicing their traditional ways of burning crop residues and pilling cow dung in one place instead of spreading it in their gardens.
A minority of the farmers were practicing sustainable livestock farming without knowing what they were doing was sustainable livestock farming.
None of the farmers ever collected the urine from animals as manure for their soils.
The idea of biogas production was not in the minds of the farmers at all.
The crop residues and the standing grass that would be cut for hay and fed to the animals during the dry season was being burnt.
The yields from livestock and crops per acre were really very low.
Most families didn’t have enough food to take them all round the year.
Poverty was reported in most households by the participants.
Continuous training of farmers on sustainable agriculture.
Demonstration sites should be set in most households for others to copy from
Credit facilities with low interest rates should be availed to farmers to construct biogas plants in order to save the environment through controlled cutting of trees.
Other alternative sources of livelihoods should be introduced to the farmers especially the youth.
The government should provide more funding to the agriculture sector for continuous training of farmers.
Exchange visits need to be organized for farmers and technical staff.
Dr. Opolot John
Principal Veterinary Officer / Ngora district.