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Agricultural Journal
Year: 2009 | Volume: 4 | Issue: 5 | Page No.: 208-215
Candidate Agroforestry Technologies and Practices for Uganda
Clement Akais Okia, Jacob Godfrey Agea, Jude Sekatuba, Gerald Ongodia, Balikitenda Katumba, Vincent Ibwala Opolot and Henry Mutabazi
 
Abstract: Agroforestry is rapidly gaining interest of many farmers in Uganda and it is widely thought that it can make a significant contribution towards addressing the high levels of poverty and associated land degradation in the country. For this to happen, however there is need to promote agroforestry technologies and innovations that farmers can invest in and that in turn generate incomes. This study therefore, presents an inventory of agroforestry technologies/practices in Uganda and prioritises these technologies/practices according to Association of Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) criteria and TOFNET (Trees on Farm Network of ASARECA) different problems domain areas in Uganda. The inventory involved the use of structured questionnaires administered to various agroforestry stakeholders. Sixty organizations were surveyed comprising NGOs, CBOs, District extension departments, research and training institutions from 11 districts of Uganda (Iganga, Kabale, Kampala, Kisoro, Kumi, Mbale, Mbarara, Mukono, Ntungamo, Wakiso and Soroti). Validation and prioritization of the agroforestry technologies/practices were conducted in a stakeholders’ workshop. Twenty-one agroforestry technologies/practices were documented ranging from apiculture, aquaforestry, biomass transfer, to homegardens and woodlots. High value fruit tree orchards, home gardens, woodlots, trees on cropland, contour hedges, improved fallowing, relay and rotational cropping, fodder banks, apiary systems, ornamental/avenue planting, trees on hillsides were the top ten highly scored technologies according to ASARECA criteria. According to TOFNET criteria, most of the technologies were spread in nearly all the problem domain areas (Lake Victoria and associated river basins, humid highlands, marginal areas, buffer zones and urban/peri-urban) of Uganda. This therefore, calls for the need to promote diversified agroforestry technologies/practices, which might be the best option to reduce risks and satisfy farmers’ wants directly from the land resources under their management.
 
 

INTRODUCTION

The association of trees, agricultural crops and animals in a farming system is an ancient practice throughout the world, probably dating back as far as 7000 B.C, in the form of shifting cultivation (World Agroforestry Centre, 2006). The term agroforestry was coined in 1977 and it describes a farming system in which trees, agricultural crops and livestock are produced at the same time or in sequence on same piece of land (World Agroforestry Centre, 2006). It is an innovation promoted for efficient and increased farm productivity, overcoming adverse soil (Young, 1997) and climatic changes and exploiting market opportunities (Price, 1995; Brenner, 1996). Agroforestry has therefore, been evolving overtime, capturing a lot of international attention as a viable alternative to many traditional land use systems. Current thinking places agroforestry as a dynamic ecologically-based natural resources management system that through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape diversifies and sustains production for increased socioeconomic and environmental benefits (Agea et al., 2007). In this respect, agroforestry has potential for increased household access to a range of forest products including food, fuelwood, building materials, medicine and fodder.

By World Bank estimates, over 1.2 billion people derive their livelihoods from agroforestry systems. Owing to its capacity to enhance multiple functions in agriculture, agroforestry will become increasingly important in land-use practices around the world (World Agroforestry Centre, 2008). If properly conceived and practiced, agroforestry can contribute to sustained productivity of natural resource base by enhancing soil fertility, controlling erosion, enhancing microclimate of cropping and grazing lands and general improvement of the environment. The importance of agroforestry in Africa can therefore, not be understated (Cook and Grut, 1989; Kerkhof, 1990; Okigbo, 1990). For Uganda, the country has two strong paradigms for exploiting the potential benefits of agroforestry (Agea et al., 2007).

Firstly, the potential for agroforestry to improve farmers’ livelihoods is in line with the national Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) part of its poverty eradication strategy, which aims at modernizing agriculture/developing farming for improved food security and commercial gain. Unlike other agricultural modernization plans, which focus on mechanization and high-tech systems, the PMA focuses on ensuring that subsistence farmers have better access to a wide variety of sustainable, low-input agricultural techniques- including agroforestry (World Agroforestry Centre, 2003).

Secondly, the district forest services within the decentralised government framework, enables service providers to promote appropriate agroforestry interventions depending on local conditions. In addition, there are a number of strong campaigns by government and non-government organizations in favour for agroforestry in order to relieve the pressure on natural forests (Agea et al., 2007). Agroforestry technologies and innovations can therefore, make significant contribution towards addressing high levels of poverty and associated land degradation in Uganda. For this to happen, however, there is need to promote agroforestry technologies and innovations that farmers can invest in and that in turn generate incomes and/or save them costs they incur. It is upon this background that this study sought to develop an inventory of agroforestry technologies and innovations in Uganda and to prioritise them according to Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) criteria and also, according to Trees on Farm Network (TOFNET) different problems domain areas in Uganda.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Uganda, the pearl of Africa and source of the great River Nile is a land-locked country in East Africa, located between 4°N and 1°S of the equator and 30°W and 35°E of Greenwich. It borders with Sudan in the North, the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, Rwanda in the Southwest, Tanzania in the South and Kenya in the East. Uganda covers an estimated area of about 241,038 km2, of which 197,097 km2 is open land; 43,941 km2 is open water and swamps (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia, 2009). The country lies on the African plateau at altitudes ranging on average, between 900-1,500 m above sea level. Uganda’s temperatures are moderate throughout the year. In Kampala, near Lake Victoria, average daily temperatures range from 18-28°C (65-83°F) in January and from 17-25°C (62-77°F) in July; in Kabale, in the highlands of the southwest, they range from 9-24°C (49-75°F) in January and from 8-23°C (47-74°F) in July (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia, 2009).

Except for its Northeastern border area and small areas in the Southwest, Uganda generally receives sufficient rain throughout the country to permit crops to grow once or even twice a year. Most areas of the country have distinct dry and wet seasons, though the Lake Victoria area receives rain throughout the year. The driest areas, in the north, usually receive about 900 mm (40 in) annually, while the wettest, in the South, receives more than 1,500 mm (60 in) (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia, 2009). Uganda has a population of 31,367,972 (2008 estimate). The country has an average population density of about 157 people/km2 (407/mile2). About 12% of the population is urbanized. Average life expectancy in 2008 was about 51.3 years for men and 53.4 years for women (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopaedia, 2009).

The study involved two approaches. First, structured questionnaires were administered to stakeholders involved agroforestry promotion (Extension staff, project managers, researchers). A total of 61 organizations were surveyed comprising NGOs (62%), CBOs (20%) and others (18%) i.e., District extension departments, research and training institutions. The questionnaire survey covered 11 districts of Uganda (Iganga, Kabale, Kampala, Kisoro, Kumi, Mbale, Mbarara, Mukono, Ntungamo, Wakiso and Soroti). The second approach involved a stakeholders’ workshop to validate and prioritize the agroforestry technologies and innovations that were identified in questionnaire survey. The technologies and innovations were validated and prioritized first according to ASARECA criteria and secondly, according to TOFNET different problems domain areas in Uganda.

According to ASARECA criteria, workshop participants prioritized the above technologies by first scoring them on a scale of 1-10 (least contribution) (maximum contribution) on the attributes of economic feasibility, environmental sustainability, social acceptability, ease of adoptability and gender equitability (parity). An average score for each technology was derived from the participants’ ranking. Secondly, the average score of each technology was then weighted based on the ASARECA criteria (Economic criteria- 30%, environmental criteria-25%, social criteria-20%, adoptability-15% and gender parity-10%). A judgement was then made on which technologies seem to have the highest potential. According to the different TOFNET problems domain areas in Uganda, the identified agroforestry technologies were prioritized according to the technologies most suitable for Lake Victoria and associated river basins; humid highlands; marginal areas; buffer zones; urban and peri-urban sites. Results were analysed descriptively using Excel Spread Sheet.

RESULTS

An inventory of agroforestry technologies in Uganda: The results of the inventory of agroforestry technologies in the eleven surveyed districts of Uganda revealed a number of technologies/innovations as being used by farmers. A total of twenty-one technologies/innovations were documented and these ranged from apiary systems, agrosilvofishery (aquaforestry), biomass transfer, boundary planting, improved fallowing, fodder bank to other technologies such as windbreaks/shelter belts, trees on cropland, homegardens and woodlots (Table 1). Some technologies such as high value tropical fruit tree orchards (elite Mangifera indica, Persea americana, citrus, Carica papaya, Psidium guajava, Passiflora edulis, Anona senegalensis, Anona cherimoya and Anona muricata) were reported to be common especially in warmer areas while, those of high value temperate fruit tree orchards such as apples and pears were said to practiced in cold and humid highland areas especially of Kabale, Mbale and Kapchowra districts of Uganda.

Technologies such as homegardens and woodlots were reported to be predominantly common in central Uganda. But generally speaking, most of the technologies such as apiculture, agrosilvofishery (aquaforestry), trees scattered on croplands and trees on pasture/rangeland cut across the whole country. Other technologies however, need improvement because it was reported during the survey that some farmers are still stuck with their traditional ways of doing things. Such technologies include apiculture and trees on cropland. In the case of trees on cropland, most farmers were said to just retain the trees scattered all over the farm and that rarely are these trees deliberately planted. This has an implication in that it makes tilling the land especially by ox-plough difficult. While, for the case of apiculture (a form of silvopastoral system where bees are considered as a mini-livestock), traditional methods of apiary technology are still very rampant in most parts of the country. Modern apiary technologies such the use of Kenya Top Bar Hives (KTBH) is yet to pickup.

Prioritized agroforestry technologies according to ASARECA criteria: Stakeholders’ prioritization of the technologies according to ASARECA criteria revealed very interesting patterns. Fruit tree gardens/orchards, home gardens, woodlots, apiary (apiculture) and Agrosilvofishery (aquaforestry) were ranked highly on the attributes of economic feasibility (Table 2).

Home gardens, woodlots, trees on cropland and terrace stabilisation/contour hedges, trees on hillsides and windbreaks and shelter belts technologies were ranked best in the aspect of Environmental sustainability. With regard to social acceptability, fruit tree gardens/ orchards, home gardens, ornamental/avenue planting technologies top the list. Considering the ease of adoptability and the issue of gender parity, fruit tree gardens/orchards and home gardens were the two highly ranked technologies. Combining all the five criteria, fruit tree gardens/orchards; home gardens; woodlots; trees on cropland; terrace stabilisation/contour hedges; improved fallowing, relay and rotational cropping; fodder banks; apiary systems, ornamental/avenue planting and trees on hillsides were the top ten highly scored technologies, respectively.

Prioritised agroforestry technologies according to the different TOFNET problems domain areas in Uganda: According to TOFNET criteria, agroforestry technologies were prioritized according to different problems domains in Uganda, which included Lake Victoria and associated river basins, humid highlands, marginal areas (drylands), buffer zones and peri-urban areas. With reference to Lake Victoria and associated river basins, apiary (apicultural) systems, home gardens, boundary planting, Agrosilvofishery (aquaforestry), river bank /lakeshore/ terrace stabilization, Windbreaks and shelter belts, trees on farmland (e.g., Jatropha-vanilla and taungya technologies were the priority technologies according to the results from focus group discussions (Table 3). For humid highlands such as south-western Uganda, Mbale and Kapchorwa districts; trees on hillsides, terrace stabilization and contour hedges, fruit orchards (temperate), hedgerows, woodlots and improved fallows were chosen as priority agroforestry technologies in the workshop.

Workshop participants also placed apiary technology (apiculture); trees on pastures and rangelands; fodder banks; windbreaks and shelterbelts; live fences; fruit orchards (tropical) and taungya as priority technologies for marginal areas especially the drylands. While for buffer zone problem domain; apiary (apiculture), seed banks/seed orchards, boundary planting, biomass transfer, medicinal plant gardens and sericulture were considered the priority agroforestry technologies.


Table 1: An inventory of agroforestry technologies in Uganda

Table 2: Prioritized agroforestry technologies according to ASARECA criteria
Figures bracketed are the weighted rank scores. Those un-bracketed are the un-weighted rank scores

Table 3: Prioritized agroforestry technologies according to the different TOFNET problems domains in Uganda

With regard to the problematic peri-urban areas, the following technologies were considered as priorities: home gardens, woodlots, ornamental/avenue plantings, windbreaks and shelter belts, biomass transfer, fodder banks and boundary planting.

DISCUSSION

Many Ugandans today, have great expectations from agroforestry. Yet, if current efforts to understand, develop and disseminate agroforestry technologies/practices are to have any hope of meeting even a reasonable proportion of current expectations, its deployment, as a newly organized branch of applied science, must take place within a certain context. This study therefore, attempted to prioritize agroforestry technologies and/or practices in Uganda according to ASARECA and TOFNET criteria. It was therefore, clear from our results that certain agroforestry technologies for instance fruit tree gardening, homegardens, woodlots, apiary/apiculture and Agrosilvofishery (aquaforestry) will be easily taken-up because of their economic feasibility or rather financial profitability. Raintree (1983) also underscored the importance of economic feasibility as a criterion to selection of agroforestry technologies. He emphasizes the need of going beyond qualitative functional specifications to quantify and evaluate the relative economic advantage of different agroforestry alternatives. This will give agroforestry technologies a fair chance of being adopted. There is no doubt that because of the galloping poverty in Uganda, farmers will always first look at economic feasibility of either enterprises or technologies they would adopt.

It has long been recognized that environmental sustainability of agroforestry technologies is one of the other fundamental criteria and, in fact, one of the most appreciated and hoped-for of agroforestry technologies (Murniati et al., 2001). Available information indicates that agroforestry can provide a greater range of environmental benefits than conventional types of annual crop cultivation. Such environmental benefits may include increased biodiversity and vegetation cover, reduced soil erosion and land degradation, increased water quantity and quality, increased water infiltration and soil quality, enhanced production of organic matter; enhanced soil fertility; improved microclimate for associated crops and livestock; increased availability of fuelwood, protection from strong winds and provision of shade. It is not therefore, surprising that the workshop participants in our study highly prioritized homegardens, woodlots, trees on cropland, contour hedges, trees on hillsides and windbreaks and shelter belts as the best in regards to environmental sustainability. One of the often-key motivations for farmers to practice agroforestry is that the technologies should be able to generate these benefits in addition to economic/financial benefits accruing from such technologies (Agea et al., 2007).

Social considerations of agroforestry technologies is often much emphasized in agroforestry literature. For example Burch and Parker (1991), pointed out that social aspects of agroforestry are critical factors in choosing agroforestry technologies, practices and systems. Social acceptability implies how the technology would fit within the ever-dynamic land tenure systems (Bruce and Fortmann, 1988), labour requirement (Hoskins, 1987), cultural norms and beliefs (Agea et al., 2007). It is therefore within this framework that stakeholders in present study ranked fruit tree gardening, homegardens, ornamental and avenue planting as the top priority agroforestry technologies according to this social acceptability criteria. Social acceptability is henceforth, by no qualm important because agroforestry conventionally emphasizes the relationship of its components such as trees with people.

The ease of adoptability as a determinant that underpins farmers’ choices of agroforestry technologies and innovations has also been reported in agroforestry literature. Rogers (1995) identified five key characteristics of technology that determine their adoption potential as relative advantage, trialability, compatibility, observability and complexity. The most significant of these are usually high relative advantage, high compatibility and low complexity (Tornatzky and Klein, 1982). In the study, considering the ease of adoptability, fruit tree orchards and homegardens were the two highly ranked technologies. It is important to note however, that some innovative agroforestry technology/practices are influenced by gender issues and in most cases adapted by women and customized to fit the farm niches and products over, which they tend to have greater control. In this respect, fruit tree orchards and home gardens were again prioritized as the best technologies that take into account particularly the women concerns and interests. This pattern of ranking is strongly supported by Akinnifesi et al. (2006) who found out that 86% of the planting sites in Malawi and 98% in Zambia were located on homesteads.

Women were also the principal managers of these sites and were likely to benefit the most from production. Women were also, the principal recipients of training in the local production of fruit concentrates, jam, juice and other products in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Ham et al., 2008). Since, farmers always have multiple criteria upon which they base their decisions of whether to uptake an agroforestry technology or not, fruit tree gardening; homegardens; woodlots; trees on cropland; terrace stabilization (contour hedges); improved fallowing, relay and rotational cropping; fodder banks; apiculture, ornamental/avenue planting, trees on hillsides are highly favoured technologies when all the five criteria combined.

Past studies have shown that agroforestry systems, technologies and practices can also be prioritised and/or classified according ecological zones and/or problem domain areas in order to provide a framework for evaluating those systems, technologies or practices and to develop action plans for their improvement. Nair (1985) and Young (1997) for example classified tropical and sub-tropical agroforestry systems according to humid and sub-humid lowland, dry regions and highlands. In the study, the stakeholders prioritised agroforestry technologies/practices into four-problem domain areas of Lake Victoria and associated river basins; humid highlands; marginal areas; buffer zones; urban and peri-urban areas. The prioritization here reflected the inherent problems in these areas. As such, intensive agroforestry technologies such as homegardens were more associated with Lake Victoria basin and urban/peri-urban problem domain areas. Technologies such as temperate fruit tree orchards were more unique to cold and humid highlands while tropical fruit orchards were better suited for drylands. It must however, be strongly noted that prioritising agroforestry technologies/practices according to problem domain areas alone cannot be taken as a satisfactory basis for prioritisation because several agroforestry technologies/practices are relevant to any problem domain area; depending on the special conditions of any problem domain area, the emphasis of the technology/practice will also vary.

CONCLUSION

This article has focused on candidate agroforestry technologies/practices for Uganda. A number of technologies/practices have been discussed in relation to ASARECA criteria of prioritization of agroforestry technologies and TOFNET different problem domain areas in Uganda. Fruit tree orchards; homegardens; woodlots; trees on cropland; terrace stabilisation (contour hedges); improved fallowing, relay and rotational cropping; fodder banks; apiary systems, ornamental/avenue tree planting; trees on hillsides were the top ten highly scored agroforestry technologies according to ASARECA criteria of prioritization. Technologies such as temperate fruit orchards were more unique to humid highlands, while tropical fruit orchards were better suited for drylands. Intensive agroforestry technologies such as homegardens were more associated with Lake Victoria basin and urban/peri-urban problem domain areas. Meanwhile, technologies like (apiculture), boundary planting and biomass transfer are more preferred for buffer zone areas.

RECOMMENDATIONS

There is a need for promotion of diversified agroforestry technologies/practices. Whether, on Lake Victoria and associated river basins; humid highlands; marginal areas; buffer zones; urban/peri-urban areas, diversified agroforestry technologies may be the most appropriate form of land use where land tenure constraints or an unfavourable political economy make it imperative for small landholders, in trying to reduce risks, in order to satisfy most of their basic needs directly from the land resources under their control.

There is also need for revision of government policies to enhance and encourage the development of agroforestry technologies in ways that are economically appropriate for the farmers. These policies should include long-term development strategies; national and regional program plans and structures, financial incentives (such as loans and subsidies) and establishment of agroforestry technologies demonstration sites in the different regions of the country.

Lastly, there is urgent need for consolidation of scientific and technological robustness of agroforestry technologies through intensification of on-farm testing of innovations with farmers. This would be a positive step towards up-scaling the candidate technologies.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are grateful for the support extended to us from the TOFNET (Trees on Farm Network of ASARECA). ASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa) We are at the same time, thankful first to all the agroforestry service providers (NGOs, CBOs, District extension staffs, research and training personnel that were interviewed in the eleven districts of Uganda (Iganga, Kabale, Kampala, Kisoro, Kumi, Mbale, Mbarara, Mukono, Ntungamo, Wakiso and Soroti) and secondly to all the stakeholders who participated in the validation and prioritisation of agroforestry technologies.