“Farmer Learning Platforms” in the “Growth for Uganda” project
In April 2013, K+S KALI GmbH started the “Growth for Uganda” project together with the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA). The objective of the project is to improve livelihoods of up to 50,000 farm families in Northern Uganda. Through intensified agricultural extension services, input supply and market access farm productivity will be increased and food security as well as income generated from agricultural activity will be improved. The project will also focus on sustainable production methods by conserving natural resources and improving soil fertility.
Making the effect of fertilisation a reality
A central building block of SAA’s extension approach with smallholders is the “Farmer Learning Platform (FLP)”.The FLP consists of three major elements:
- participatory training sessions with well capacitated extension agents and farmers,
- on-farm field demonstrations which serve as learning sites for farmers to study and experience the effects of the improved technologies and
- continuous monitoring and evaluation of activities, feed-back and specialist support.
In order to show the unique effect of fertiliser use on crop yield under low soil fertility conditions three different fertiliser levels are demonstrated to farmers and their effect is evaluated jointly with extension agents: Traditional cultivation practice generally without mineral fertiliser application, and two different fertiliser rates with nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and phosphorus (P). One of the two variants corresponds to the recommendations of the regional research institutes (recommended fertiliser practice). The second one amounts to 50% of the scientific recommendation but is a significantly improved fertiliser practice compared with the traditional cultivation. The improved fertiliser practice considers for less resource endowed farmers.
Hence the field demonstrations offer different options to farmers whether he or she has more or less resources available to invest. The most important message, however, is that productivity can be improved and fertiliser use, best agricultural practices and capacity building can convert subsistance farming into a profitable farm enterprise. Nutrient mining can be reduced and soil fertility improved to assure sustainability and productivity in the long term.