Patron -  Joanna Lumley, OBE

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Agricultural Learning Centre

Nkoma Farm – Agricultural Learning Centre

In 1999, PENHA held a regional workshop in Mbarara (Western Uganda) on pastoral development. We subsequently carried out a needs assessment and situation analysis in the pastoralist communities. The need for training to promote sustainable agriculture, increased incomes and food security for Ugandan pastoralists came out strongly. Discussions with the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) brought out the need for demonstration sites and training at the grassroots. Local partner organizations in four Districts as well as individual herders and agro-pastoralists called for training and support by workers.

1. This project aims to improve crop and livestock production in agro-pastoral and pastoral communities, using the best traditional and modern practice

2. To build local capacity for sustainable management of natural resources.

3. It also aims at showing cattle-keepers, “good practice” in animal health, selective breeding, crop-livestock integration, soil and water conservation and sustainable agriculture.
4. It further aims at stimulating the formation of herder groups that can become effective vehicles for pastoralists’ participation in national programs.

The use of the farm has been donated by a local Ugandan farmer on a peppercorn rent since June 2003 and is located at Mbirizi in central Uganda. It has been funded for the past seven years by the Open Gate Trust.

As it develops, the project has the following aims:

  • Pastoralists learn about and exchange new techniques for sustainable agricultural intensification, animal husbandry and soil & water conservation
  • The planting of drought resistant varieties, the establishment of a tree nursery and seed multiplication facility enable participating groups to access new planting materials and seeds developed by local research stations
  • Pastoralists learn new skills for processing milk and agricultural products; so that they can add value to the products they sell and boost their incomes
  • Community Animal Health Workers (para-vets), extension professionals and practitioners of traditional animal medicine, can have their skills developed in basic animal health techniques
  • From interactions with pastoralists both in routine farm work as well as in workshops with herders, gain the information necessary to develop and produce relevant local language posters, fact sheets, training manuals and materials for communication through radio and video
  • Pastoralists from across Uganda and the Horn can share and transfer expertise, knowledge and skills – locally, nationally and regionally

Demonstration and training include the following aspects of agricultural and animal farming:

  • Soil and water conservation (mulching, terracing, contour farming, use of absorption channels and retention ditches)
  • Agro-forestry practices (woodlots, fodder banks, contour hedges, live fences)
  • Pasture improvement (over sowing using forage legumes, weeding and grazing control)

Animal husbandry techniques

  • Goat rearing with high-yielding Boer goats (supporting the distribution of improved breeds to women’s groups)
  • Design and construction of fuel-efficient stoves
  • The potential of cheap solar energy systems
  • Rainwater harvesting for domestic use  (particularly training in the construction of roof catchment systems that use affordable and locally available materials)
  • Good practice in sanitation and hygiene and the construction of Ventilated & Improved Pit Latrines
  • Yoghurt making and milk processing      

Progress and future aims

  • The Nkoma Farm exotic goats breeding center has been well managed, maintaining high quality stock and making it possible to distribute goat stock to women’s groups as part of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme.
  • A number of successful training workshops have been held at the Nkoma Farm.
  • More water points need to be developed (crucial for animal health and reducing veterinary expenditures over the long-term).

New funding is needed to establish and expand fodder production and other activities. A report on the Nkoma Farm covering 2008 to 2012 can be down loaded here (589kb) and a further more recent report - covering 2013 and the beginning of 2014 can be down loaded here (858 kb).