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Workshop in Uganda Highlights the Impact of Variations in Productivity on Food Security

In February 2014 experts from SLU Global held the first in the series of workshops supported by SIANI and organized around the theme ‘Sustainable Agricultural Production and Food Security’. A meeting took place at Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda) and meant to identify knowledge gaps and success factors in the productivity of cropping systems on farm, village and regional levels.

Why increase in productivity matters?

Increasing demand for food and fuel poses overwhelming challenges for agricultural development. Scientists from SLU Global, the initiative launched as part of the Swedish Policy for Global Development (PGU), have been looking for ways to increase sustainability and improve food security while facilitating rural development. The researchers have identified that increased productivity of cropping systems can be the solution to this multitude of issues and that it can be achieved by using the local resources and external inputs more efficiently.

Solution Framework

In order to understand the possible ways of achieving it, Prof. Magnus Jirström together with the team of researchers from SLU Global suggested a two-component framework. One of the elements of this framework stems from the assumption that it is possible to develop pathways for sustainable increase in production based on success stories from farm, village and even regional levels. Another element of the solution framework, according to the research team, is hidden in the information gaps that exist in our knowledge about the crop system’s productivity.

The workshop in Kampala explored differences between and within households, looking for the causes and effects these differences have on food security and sustainability of the cropping systems. Additionally, scientists tried to come up with the suitable methods to capture and store this information.

The participants used existing household panel data made available by Makerere University as a starting point for the discussions. After that, knowledge gaps and need for complementary socio-economic and biophysical data were identified. Some of the examples of the things that are still unknown were: information linkages between nutrient, water and pest management and the related product groups; priorities and timing of farm operations as well as availability of labor over the year; and crop development over the growing season.

Action in the field

Researchers employed interactive methods to gather high quality information. The participants of the workshop developed templates and questionnaires for data collection and tested the results of their work by physical measurements and through a live dialogue with extension staff, members of a local development group and individual farmers from four villages of the Mbale region. This activity has also helped to identify a particular need for extension services within the farming community. The data obtained is now under further processing and evaluation.

Would you like to know more? Contact Dr Sigrun Dahlin or keep an eye on the SIANI’s news about the Sustainable Agricultural Production and Food Security’ theme, the updates are expected by June!