Mrs Leonora Okidi, a farmer of Pader district in Uganda is delighted with her harvest. She is part of a group of farmers who participated in two field days held in Pader and Alero Nwoya districts conducted on 15 and 17 August as part of the Tropical Legumes III project. Leonora has been a beneficiary of using improved groundnut varieties Serenut 5R and 9. ‘’I divided my five acres of land between the improved varieties over 2 acres and local variety Red beauty over 3 acres. After the rosette virus wrecked the local variety I had planted, I abandoned it. The improved varieties were able to withstand the virus. I was impressed. Now my groundnut crop is able to feed and school my 11 biological children and support 25 other dependents,” she declares.
Groundnut is an important legume in Uganda, and ranks second after beans as a source of dietary protein. The two field days brought together different stakeholders along the crop’s value chain, including officials from the local government, agricultural and commercial officers, NGOs (including ZOA, Lutheran World Federation, World Vision, GGAO and Food for the Hungry), traditional and religious leaders, researchers from NaSARRI and NARO, and local media (Luo FM), in addition to farmers.
At Pader, three separate sites were chosen: (i) demonstration plots sown with Serenut 1-14 series: these were farmer participatory variety trial plots for groundnut lines undergoing National Performance Trials (NPTs) for wide adaptability, (ii) multiplication fields of Serenut 5R, 8R and 9T varieties, and (iii) a local farmers’ field cropped with both the improved varieties of Serenut 5R and 11T alongside Red beauty, a popular local cultivar. Meanwhile, three blocks of seed multiplication sites sown with Serenut 9T (Aber), Serenut 14R and Serenut 5R served as learning materials at Alero Nwoya. All varieties involved lines developed by ICRISAT and on each field, the crops were nearing physiological maturity.
Challenges discussed by farmers
The field days allowed participants to exchange their experiences, discuss beneficial agronomic practices, and learn more about different seed varieties and sources. Farmers discussed the challenges posed by the groundnut rosette virus, which had caused severe damage amongst fields sown with landraces and seeds bought from local markets.
At Alero Nwoya, Mrs Adong Christine from the Mak mukemi group recounted how she had borrowed $7000 from the bank and planted 20 acres with local varieties of groundnut, but could only manage to harvest 2 bags (from potential 400 bags) due to crop damage.
Participating farmers and researchers shared many such experiences, learning from one another to exchange insights. They freely uprooted samples from the various improved varieties to see for themselves their yields, stay green traits, resistance to both late leaf spots and the rosette virus. Some of the immediate outcomes of the field days were:
Visiting farmers bought small seed packs (0.5kg, 1kg, 2kg, 3kg) of improved varieties on spot, conveniently sized for immediate adoption.
The crop’s near physiological maturity was timely as it helped farmers who had suffered damage on their crop of local varieties take hope; the event saw enhanced adoption of improved varieties to replace their damaged crop.
Researchers from NaSAARI received requests from farmers to adopt their fields for research on improved varieties and as seed multipliers.
Farmers sought the help of ZOA, the sponsoring NGO, for further training and frequent monitoring.
Dissemination materials detailing good agronomic practices, pre-and-post harvest requirements, and the sources and benefits of improved seed varieties were explained and distributed among participating farmers.
The Pader event, hosted by Green Globe Agriculturalists Organization (GGAO), was attended by 102 participants with 34 women farmers while the Alero Nwoya field day, organized by the Loyo Kwo Groundnut Seed Producers’ Group, attracted 61 participants drawn from 24 farmer groups, with nearly half the participants being women.
Funder: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Partners: Green Globe Agriculturalists Organization (GGAO), Loyo Kwo Groundnut Seed Producers’ Group, ICRISAT (Leader), CIAT, IITA and National Agricultural Research System (NARS) partners National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda