Agriculture

Project Aim: 

Community Involvement:

Project outcome to date:

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Agri-washing carrots 2012Agri-wellComposting toilet under construction at perma-culture plot 2013 

 

2016

Fruit Factory

We felt it would be beneficial to broaden our understanding of how to maximise the use of fruits and vegetables grown within the agricultural project, by visiting a fruit drying & juicing factory in Mityana, run by an NGO.

There are several benefits to drying/juicing fruit and vegetables:

- These processes greatly increase shelf life
- Increases profit margin
- Creates employment
- Effectively deals with produce not suitable for direct sale – too ripe/under-ripe
- Easier to transport
- Opens up markets beyond the local town
- Appeals to a new market wanting to try new foods/drinks

The process has been kept simple, using basic ideas and harnessing solar energy.  Glass bottles for the fruit juice were recycled and sterilised in a huge pot of boiling water.  

Agri-Mityana bottled juice 2015Agri-Mityana dried fruit 2015

 

Recycling

Agri-Mityana bottle greenhouse 2015

Whilst at Mityana we saw a greenhouse made from plastic recycled bottles.  Using this as a guide we made our own recycled plastic bottle and bamboo greenhouse.

There are many reasons why these are a good idea:

- Protects the new seedlings from becoming scorched in the harsh direct sun
- Prevents the ground from drying so quickly during the dry season
- The design uses bamboo grown on the trial plot
- Uses unwanted plastic bottles collected from the bus depots, restaurants and schools within Rukungiri town
- The bottle design allows raiin the filter through slowly but deters the bugs and insects from eating the seedlings

The greenhouse is a great idea, not only does it protect the plants and seedlings, thus broadening the range of crops we are able to grow, but it is good for the environment by using this waste product.  There are no recycling facilities in Rukungiri, and water sold in plastic bottles is becoming more and more popular therefore creating a huge waste problem within the town.

 

Agri-recycled plastic bottle greenhouse 2015Agri-Recycled water bottle greenhouseAgri-Recycled water bottle greenhouse

2015

Rain water harvesting

We have known for a long time that many schools are in desperate need of water for drinking, cooking and washing, with some pupils facing long journeys to fetch water every day before they can begin their study's.  This was the case with Mugamba model primary school; a private day school with 115 pupils. Pupils as young as 5yrs had to walk over 1 km through steep terrain to fetch water on a daily basis.  Following a successful bid for funding, St Marks Overseas Aid Trust (SMOAT) granted us £1500 to install a rainwater harvesting system to this school.  This funding allowed us to install 100ft of guttering to existing school buildings and a 3000lt water tank.  This will significantly reduce the burden of collecting water during the dry season, and allow pupils to spend more time studying.  Health benefits include reduced headaches and tiredness many suffer due to dehydration.  As with all of our construction projects, local labour and students were employed to complete the work under the close supervision of Moses. 

Tying in with the perma-culture project, 3 families with no water supply were also selected to have domestic rain water harvesting installed to their property.  This will allow them to irrigate their crops, increase their harvest and sell via the Project Uganda growers group, securing their income.

Reservoir Construction

2015 saw a big push with this project.  Following several years of advice and training on planting techniques, crop rotation and land management, it was felt that the biggest issue was still the lack of a consistent water supply to the crops during the dry seasons.  We have implemented irrigation systems through the fields to control the water flow but this does not address the lack of water.  Following a study of the land and natural water movements, a suitable site was chosen to dig out and construct a reservoir.  This was a huge task and took a dedicated team of labourers, with nothing more than shovels and pick axes, 2 weeks to dig the 20m diameter by 2m deep reservoir.  During this stage another team of workers were tasked with learning how to construct the concrete posts and shutters required to form the gate of the reservoir.  This was a new idea to the locals and took time to ensure they fully understood how the reservoir would work and how adjusting the gates would control the water retention and flow into the fields.  We are waiting for news on how successful this has been during the dry season (May – August).

Agri-reservoir constructionAgri-reservoir 2015

Agri-reservoir construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agri-reservoir construction

2014

During this year Moses has been able to negotiate supplying a beetroot juicing plant with beetroot.  Two ladies local to the trial project have been enlisted to grow beetroot and Moses is looking for more.  The mango, papaya, avocado, orange and lemon trees are now starting to produce fruit along with pineapple plants.  This is a welcome addition to the harvest and has helped the trial project to turn a profit over the last few months.  Although it is only a small profit at the moment, it is showing that it is heading in the right direction.

The Chickens are now producing a good number of eggs for sale with a high demand forcing the price of eggs up which is good news. The chicks and cockerel have been separated from the layers which has improved the survival rate of the chicks. With the addition of 7 beehives to the project, of which 5 are already colonised, honey will soon be another product that can be sold locally as well as good pollination for all that is growing in the gardens.

Irrigation is still the main problem with either too much rain or 4 months without any. However Moses has been experimenting with building temporary dams to control water flow through the stream as well as storing water for the dry season.

2013

Composting toilet under construction at perma-culture plot 2013The trial perma-culture project is developing very well and 2013 saw some exciting additions to the plot.  The plot is now attracting many visitors; from interested local farmers to local press, which is fantastic and proves that there is a developing interest locally in what we are achieving.  It was felt that we should build a composting toilet on the plot, firstly for visitors to use, but secondly and more importantly to use as a teaching tool for the locals.  It is essential that we can demonstrate how these toilets can be constructed and maintained, as there is now a ban on traditional 'long drop' style toilets being used within Completed composting toilet at perma-culture plot 2013Rukungiri town due to the pollution of the underground water systems.  Composting toilets are hygienic, smell free, cheap to maintain and a good source of compost for the garden, therefore making it a perfect alternative to the long drop.  It is no use installing a toilet dependent on water for flushing as this is still an unreliable and expensive commodity to many Ugandans.  However, many locals do have access to dry materials such as saw dust, plant husks etc which can be used in the composting toilets.  The composting toilet was constructed by a team of 3; consisting of one foreman, one mason and one porter, over 12 days.  Two carpenters were also employed for 2 days to make, varnish and fit a double seat/chamber top.

New chicken house with nest boxes under construction at perma-culture plot 2013A team of six workers were also employed for 5 days to construct a new 20ft by 9ft chicken house with 20 nest boxes and secure run.  This was crucial in order to expand the flock and keep up with the demand for both chickens and eggs.  The run needed to be enlarged to allow more freedom for the chickens but also had to be secure as the chicks have created problems by escaping and eating the crops.  They are also vulnerable to attacks by large birds of prey such as the Red Kite.  

 

New chicken run at perma-culture plot 2013

Time has also been spent fencing another plot on the farm to extend the growing area further.  Four carpenters and 3 porters were employed to prepare and fence the new plot.

2012

We are very pleased to announce that the trial perma-culture plot is developing at a fantastic rate. This project is aimed at teaching sustainable farming techniques to local land owners, to provide them with greater yield and therefore income. This year the plot has doubled in size and now extends along the edge of the stream providing a year round gravity irrigation system. Moses and his team are working incredibly hard using their knowledge and training to grow a much wider variety of crops and with improved irrigation extending the growing season.

Public: Agri-water pump 2012.jpg

During January of this year Matthew Gothard spent three weeks on site developing the project and continuing with training.As part of the irrigation improvements he installed a solar water pump, sunk a well shaft , and diverted the existing stream to form an irrigation channel. All of these works will allow water to be accessed and pumped to the vegetables throughout the dry season thus extending the growing period.

Public: Agri-nest boxes 2012.jpg

Animals such as chickens play a part in perma-culture, so the chicken run was improved to allow a more free range approach and nest boxes constructed on the side of the coup – with great success. The chickens are all laying well and in the right place!

2011

2011 saw a real focus on the planning and preparation of this project. This was based around selecting an appropriately sized portion of land to be cultivated as a starting point as well as trying to set up an irrigation system. After studying the lie of the land, and taking into accound factors such as natural water sources, gradients of land and existing planting, an appropriate plot rising up hill from a small stream was selected. In this particular area ground water is found 1-1.5m below ground.

Agricultural project-shallow well Following a trial dig by Matthew, Moses was then able to construct a shallow well and under gravity, water is being piped through the plot providing irrigation to all crops thus extending the growing season and increasing the variety of crops he is able to grow. New crops introduced so far include kale, spinach and cabbage.

Agricultural project-water troughA new cattle trough is also supplied with water from this well. The cattle are now well hydrated increasing milk yield. It is also very pleasing to report that following discussions and cooking demonstrations by Ann we are now supplying these new crops to local hotels and restaurants. This project is already generating much interest in the local area with families very keen to learn how to maximise yield and financial income from their land. We are now preparing to roll out this project by providing start up loans and perma-culture training to other local land owners, using our trial plot as a working example.

 

2010

This is a new and exciting scheme for Project Uganda. Following much discussion and research in 2009 we are now running a pilot permaculture scheme. The main aim is to provide extra income for farmers by growing enough produce for personal consumption and suitable for sale locally. The aim is to make the project self sustaining within a few years and provide an example and training tool to other small local farmers in an attempt to reduce poverty in the Rukungiri district.

Moses Akampa and his father, James, have offered a small sloping site, about 1 ha in size, for a pilot agricultural/horticultural project. 

Proposed-plot for perma-culture projectThis plot also benefits from running along a natural stream providing irrigation all year round.

2009

Fact gathering visit to Uganda 2009

Leucaena leucocephela hedge at Sabina

Terry Clayton and Richard Soilleux, two members of the Project Uganda committee, visited Uganda in early December 2009 as representatives of Project Uganda to determine local agricultural/horticultural practices and conditions as well as details such as the types and availability of plants and seed, types of produce and prices and potential markets. In order to do this a number of visits were arranged including the botanic gardens in Kampala, the Sabina permaculture project as well as nurseries and a representative number of farms and small holdings (including James’ farm) in Rugungiri district.

Proposed General approach

The aim will be to adapt the basic principles of permaculture to the local environment at Rukungiri. We plan to start, with Moses’ as our on site representative, by developing the small scale pilot project which will enable us to try out different things until we have a viable and sustainable system in place for others to copy.

Permaculture

Proposed perma-culture plot.jpg

By linking the different parts of each system in ecologically sensible ways, permaculture achieves high yields, reduces inputs, and actually builds fertility over successive seasons.

Permaculture is based on four basic principles:

  1. Work with nature
  2. Think, observe, learn then do
  3. Each element should perform more than one function
  4. Everything should inter-connect

Such a system, when mature, requires less input from the farmer.

Permaculture is being tried with success in a number of African countries from Ethiopia and the Sahal to Zimbabwe and, most importantly, South Africa where there is considerable government support and encouragement. Key advantages are increased output of a mix of crops and animal products while minimising the effects of pests and diseases with reduced input of money or labour. Growing organically eliminates the need and cost of fertilisers and pesticides.