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BB59: Agroecological participatory action research and advisory systems - Thaddeo Tibasiima


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The Brussels Development Briefing n. 59 on “Agroecology for Sustainable Food Systems” organised by CTA, the European Commission/EuropeAid, the ACP Secretariat, CONCORD and IPES-FOOD was held on Wednesday 15 January 2020 (9h00-13h00) at the ACP Secretariat, Avenue Georges Henri 451, 1200 Brussels.

The briefing brought various perspectives and experiences on agroecological systems to support agricultural transformation. Experts presented trends and prospects for agroecological approaches and what it implies for the future of the food systems. Successes and innovative models in agroecology in different parts of the world and the lessons learned for upscaling them were also discussed.

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BB59: Agroecological participatory action research and advisory systems - Thaddeo Tibasiima

  1. 1. Agroecological Participatory Action Research and advisory systems Thaddeo Tibasiima Kahigwa Sustainable Agriculture Trainers Network, MSFP, Fort Portal – Uganda Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna / thaddeo.tibasiima@students.
  2. 2. Overview • Introduction to Farming in Uganda • Synopsis of Mpanga Super Farmers Programme • Mpanga Super Farmers perspective on Agroecology • Elements of a functional farmer advisory system • Comparison of Farmer advisory systems in Uganda • Key elements of Participatory Action Research (PAR) • PAR Cycle: The case of Mpanga Super Farmer Programme • Why PAR and its place in Agroecology • Break throughs of PAR • PAR in pictures • Conclusion • Way forward
  3. 3. Introduction to Farming in Uganda • Along the equator (tropical climate, two rain seasons) • Fertile soils but prone to soil fertility loss (erosion and nutrient mining) • Mountainous in nature • Variety of crops and animals possible • Most are smallholder family farms (0.5-3 acres) • Agriculture main employer and contributor to the economy • Limited finances for investing in farming • Both semi skilled and purely un-skilled labor • Limited advisory services • Fast-growing youthful population
  4. 4. Synopsis of Mpanga Super Farmers Programme • Working in two geographical areas sharing the river Mpanga (Nature interacts) • Smallholder farmer families (0.5-3acres of land) • Deteriorating natural resources • Mountain-perennial farming system, low land-annual farming system • Diversified farming systems • Interdepended/interaction(Up & Downsteam) • Integrated farm planning • Help to self help • Spreading
  5. 5. Mpanga Super Farmers Perspective on Agroecology Cognizant of the cyclic nature of the interactions between; Environment/Social (Joint action&Help to self help)/Economy (Markets that offer value for many)
  6. 6. Elements of a Functional Farmer advisory system: Model of Mpanga Super Farmer Programme
  7. 7. Comparison of Farmer advisory systems in Uganda Traditional • Top-bottom • Non participatory (Centralized Research-extensionist-Farmer) • External input based • Quick fixes (post hoc) • Based on theoretical scientific knowledge • Limited adoption of recommendations • Popular for government programmes Participatory • Bottom-up • Participatory (Open days, PIPs, FFLG, FFS, PAR) • Optimize locally available resources • Sustainability key consideration • Integrate indigenous and scientific knowledge • Ownership and adaptation of recommendations • Civil society for sustainable development
  8. 8. Participatory!!!
  9. 9. Key elements of PAR • Farmer led • Integration of indigenous and scientific knowledge • Shared interest (Farmer/scientist) • Joint decision, joint action What, why, how, when, where and for whom • Cocreation of knowledge and adaptation/contextualization Continuous learning/unlearning
  10. 10. PAR Cycle: Model of Mpanga Super Farmer
  11. 11. Why PAR? • Uganda with only 241,550 sq. km of land has 10 different Agro- ecological zones. How to adopt uniform practices in a highly varying situation! • Constraints to sustainable adoption of purely scientific knowledge • Accumulated experience of farmers who daily interact with nature matters in finding meaningful feasible solutions
  12. 12. The place of PAR in agroecology Farming systems are Dynamic. Feed back/outcome from such interactions in a system can be surprising! Therefore, continuous learning and unlearning through joint cocreation of knowledge is CENTRAL to sustainability of our production systems hence PAR
  13. 13. Break throughs of PAR • Active engagement between farmers and the government scientific researchers • Bean varieties suitable for the ecological conditions and; tastes and preferences of the community selected • Biorationals for controlling field bean pests tested and verified • Optimizing soil cover on eroded sloping coffee farms for soil erosion control
  14. 14. Participatory processes in Pictures FBM 7.9t ha-1, 200kg N ha-1 Diversity of Knowledge-Life long learning Integrated Farm Planning Identification of bean varieties with multiple benefits
  15. 15. Conclusion • Dynamics in farming systems require adaptive management approaches typical of Participatory processes • Knowledge creation for dynamic farming systems is optimized through interaction of indigenous and scientific knowledge (participatory and transdisciplinary) • Meaningful Research must be action oriented to solving real problems • What matters for farmers is the application/benefit of knowledge not the complexity of the science
  16. 16. Way forward • Supportive policy that recognize the value for “many” achieved through Agroecology • Support Agroecological research • Research resilient farming systems for smallholder family farms • Enhance the bond between indigenous and scientific knowledge • Support non-formal learning that builds knowledge and life skills • Foster value for many not “Money” through diversification of production systems, services and Fair markets
  17. 17. Special appreciation • IDP (Technical and Financial support) • The farmers (collaboration/inspiration) • Partners in development (Synergy/Enabling environment)