Is the role of intraspecific diversity in increasing productivity on-farm real? Some Ugandan small holder farmers’ experiences!
April 22nd, 2014
A female farmer, Jovaille Muhoozi, from Kabwohe village of Sheema district, is now very proud of growing mixtures. She got different common bean varieties from Kiziba community seed bank, grew them in pure stands but the yields were not good for three consecutive seasons where she would harvest 50kg from an acre in each season. When she resorted to growing mixtures, she harvests an average of 175kg from the same size of land. She now grows mixtures of 11 varieties and she thinks the increase in yield she has realized is a result of low pest and disease pressures in the mixtures compared to the pure stands.
Mr. Musinguzi Boaz of the same village as Jovaille, before the establishment of Kiziba seed bank in the area, used to plant seeds he bought from markets, shops, neighbours and some saved from his farm. He would plant one common bean seed and harvest 9 seeds form one bean plant but with the coming of the community seed bank that provides him with good quality diverse seeds, he plants one seed and harvests between 50 to 90 seeds per plant.
Ms.Nantongo Sophia, a widow in Kyamutakasa village of Nakaseke district, used to grow one or two varieties of beans in a planting season till in 2009, when she planted only the ‘yellow short’ variety and did not harvest anything because the season was very bad for that variety. She then learnt that growing more than one variety is very important because it buffers against any weather calamities as different varieties are affected differently by weather changes. Last planting season, she grew six varieties which gave her a good yield despite the relatively little rain that was received in the area and was among the very few farmers who got reasonable yields in this season. She is now very keen on adopting new varieties that she comes across and is the only farmer who has so far adopted climbing bean varieties in her area as others think that they are cumbersome to grow because of the stakes that they require for climbing.
Experience this reality when you come to many other small holder farms that have adopted intraspecific diversity in Uganda. See you soon!!.