Participants in a study conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CSR), supported by Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) have agreed to the need to explore new alliances for food security.
The Sustainable Food Lab was, however, launched in 2004 as a non-profit organisation to create a sustainable food system by helping organisations turn ideas into action.
All the participants contributed to the study, which explored effective approaches for resilient coffee and vanilla farming systems in Uganda.
The study aimed at promoting intentional multi-commodity and food crop diversification of smallholder farmers.
It covered existing coffee and vanilla farming systems in two districts of Buikwe, Central Uganda and Kasese, South Western Uganda.
It also explored elements of climate change effects on the cropping systems, climate-smart agriculture practices applied by farmers, and challenges faced by farmers in crop diversification.
Analysis of data collected informed a set of recommendations which were validated by the workshop participants.
Early this year, 25 participants from the local government, civil society, private sector, research, and the NGO community came together in Kampala, Uganda, to validate the results of a baseline survey conducted on coffee and vanilla diversified systems in Central and South Western Uganda.
One significant finding of the study is limited to up-to-date knowledge or information on diversification methodologies among farmers and stakeholders.
This lack of knowledge and information, according to the participants, can be remedied by conducting further research and disseminating results quickly and in easily accessible formats.
The three recommendations given are to: Conduct a cost-benefit analysis and living income study to assess the value of coffee and vanilla diversification for smallholder farmers; explore the use of fertilizers and their potential effect on organic vanilla production, and explore organic or natural methods of crop disease and pest control.
The workshop included a keynote presentation and plenary sessions that discussed the findings and validated the recommendations.
Participants obtained insights on emerging issues such as the need to identify diversified incomes on and off-farm and their contribution towards the living income of each household.
The study concluded that crop diversification is an effective strategy to deal with climate variability in which farmers increase the range of potential food and cash crops amid climate change.
This diversification spreads production and income risks over a broader range of crops, thus reducing livelihood vulnerability to weather and market shocks.
Therefore, in diversification, it is vital to look at other income-generating enterprises accessible to a household such as crops in the intercrop, off-farm activities such as commercial motorcycle also known as boda-boda riding, businesses, and selling of labour as a collective term to improve the living income of households in farming communities.
In doing this, the different actors, including development partners, government, private sector partners, cooperatives, farmer groups, and NGOs need to consolidate efforts to improve farm household livelihoods.
The workshop recommendations have been shared with private sector partners globally to facilitate private sector investment in coffee and vanilla diversified farming systems in Uganda.