Associated with Tooro Botanical Gardens

Climate-Smart Agriculture for Increased, Sustainable Food Production

The scientific café was organised in Kibasi parish on 17th May 2018 and was attended by 26 lead crop farmers. The topic was “climate-smart agriculture for increased, sustainable food production” to address food shortage/security challenges in the region.

The topic was developed by a meeting with agricultural extension workers held on the effects of climate change on food production in the Toro Region. It was observed that village farmers in the tea belt of Toro region are increasingly abandoning crop farming for cash crops - mainly tea - leading to food insecurity.

After writing down their expectations from the meeting, participants were introduced to food security, climate change and its effects on food production, climate smart agriculture, objectives of the BigPicnic project and the need for active stakeholder engagement with experts. This was intended to widen their understanding about the subject since it was Tooro Botanical Gardens’ first meeting with them.

Participants discuss at Tooro Botanical Gardens science cafe

Photo credit: Godfrey Ruyonga

Thereafter participants actively discussed the topic and asked a number of questions that were answered by expert agronomists. Among other topics, they explained the reasons behind increased growing of tea instead of food crops including higher prices paid by tea buyers, incentives given by tea companies and climate change that has led to food crop failure and losses.

Experts suggested:

  • Better crop planting materials that can stand the climatic conditions and suit the region and the soils be introduced
  • Identification and reintroduction of traditional, affordable storage methods like wooden granaries
  • Utilising support by government and produce buyers
  • Suitable agricultural loans for food crops and better produce prices as incentives for food production

This was followed by a group discussion of practical strategies for climate-smart agriculture including take-home messages and an evaluation of the science café. After the meeting, participants were taken for a field study to a food crop farm. It was found that the farmer produced enough food to feed his family of 5 and earn four times more than others with the same land size, unknowingly moving towards climate smart agriculture with better management and proper agronomic practices. This got a lot of attention and participants promised to transfer and practice the knowledge shared.

Speaker at Tooro Botanical Gardens science cafe

Photo credit: Godfrey Ruyonga

The purpose of the activity was to share information about climate-smart agriculture to improve food production in Toro region, suggest new innovations for food crop production and availability and appreciate their role in ensuring food security for their community. It was aimed at making farmers aware of different food crops that can withstand the harsh climatic conditions, are affordable and nutritious and can be sold some for income amidst a growing trend of increasing production of commercial crops. 

The activity was successful and participants appreciated the initiatives of bringing them together to discuss matters that concern their wellbeing, expert advice from agronomists and were motivated to discuss their experiences.

Participants freely shared their experiences and agreed to be ambassadors’ of promoting climate smart agriculture. A bigger science café is planned for three months’ time to involve all the farmers in the area and invite more speakers such as nutritionists, agronomists and model farmers to attend.