Improving Soil Fertility for Nutrition
Joseline farms a steep, hilly slope to support herself and her seven children. As with many of the subsistence farmers in the western Rubanda district, erosion was severely affecting her farm’s productivity and the nutritional content of what she grew. She joined one of 40 farmer groups overseen by local partner PAG-KA in a new program that aims to help improve soil fertility through the use of conservation agriculture, sustainable land management and crop diversification.
Starting a new program in the midst of a pandemic is not easy, but where there is a need our members and their local partners find a way.
Observing COVID-19 prevention guidelines since the four-year program began in July 2020, PAG-KA and the local communities have already mobilized key stakeholders, conducted baseline surveys, tested soils and established demonstration gardens. They have trained and encouraged households like Joseline’s to grow and consume grain amaranth, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and iron-rich beans, and to cross their local rabbits with improved bucks for protein.
PAG-KA was not able to involve the usual large groups due to the pandemic. Instead, they’ve come up with innovative ways to reach out to participants. Masked and socially-distanced teams conduct face-to-face meetings and phone calls with individual farmers and do training at the household level or with small groups of fewer than 10 members. They use “technology phone calls” to pass along information to field volunteers and participants alike. On radio talk shows they also focus on how to carry out a variety of conservation agriculture techniques like mulching, planting cover crops, and making and applying liquid manure to their fields.
After receiving some initial training and seeds, Joseline planted and harvested her first-ever amaranth crop. She also learned how to cook the amaranth with other foods like peanuts and beans to increase nutritional complexity. Joseline exclaims in wonder, “Ever since I started eating amaranth, I have not experienced the body aches and muscle pains I have long suffered from, and my children really enjoy the new dishes I prepare.”
Uganda Rubanda Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Pentacostal Assemblies of God Kigezi – Ankole