Saturday, July 18, 2015

A look on the pig value chain in Uganda

Ex-ante impact assessment of livestock value chain intensification has recently become one of the most important component of my work at ILRI. We want to understand what happens to water, greenhouse gazes, soil health and biodiversity as some value chains get intensified. The challenge for this year is to run such a model for the pig value chain in Uganda.

I have just come back from our first trip to Uganda, where we visited Hoima district and Mukono district.

Hoima Town

What stroke me when i visited the Hoima town and its surroundings is the diversity of crop. Most crop had separate but very small fields, cassava looked like a miniature forest  maize, sweet patatos or  cabbages were growing near to the river. Next to the homestead one could find intercropped plots with banana, coffee, passion fruit, papaya, peppers, maize, beans. Field edges were stabilized with napier grass and trees and big field of grass could be found.

The landscape out of Hoima
Livestock can be found, from free roaming pigs, chicken, dairy cows and goats to more intensified systems. An average farmer has between 1 - 6 pigs, they are mainly fed on agricultural waste added on with grasses. For example, pigs are fed on banana peels, unsold avocado, cassava leave and roots as well as napier grass. Some farmers afford maize bran, but additional commercial feed is too expensive.
casava "forest"
In this area there is an Irish aid project, focusing on the pig value chain, getting farmers access to better breeds as well as a mill that can prepare commercial feeds at affordable prices.

Mukono next to Kampala

The other area we visited is in the surroundings of Kampala the capital of Uganda, however we were in a very rural setting. What strikes most is the high level of intercroping. Between the bananas jungle, you find maize, beans, cassava, arrow root, local eggplants, sugar cane and coffee. The farmers we visited have between 6-15 pigs, all fed on agricultural waste, also here commercial food are scarcely used due to their high costs.
the highly intercroped farm in Mukono
The up-coming blog post will present the Irish Aid project and many other interesting stories from Hoima and from Mukono under the Ugpig tag.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Failed state, no data? the example of Somalia

I have recently been asked to contribute to a project proposal on Somalia. First though was, my God, working in a failed state, not only it is dangerous but also there will be no local scientific capacities and no data.

What initially sounded like a nightmare, became two weeks later a very fascinating task. Firstly, Somalia is not dangerous everywhere, so work will focus on the safe area. Secondly, there have been training programs to enhance scientific capacities locally through previous collaborations, so we will have people with scientific capabilities on the ground. But most amazingly, there is plenty of data that is available through the land and water information management  by FAO.

SWALIM the FAO platform gives you access to map that i wished i had for many other projects in other countries. It is not just land cover or rainfall, there is also soil degradation or a land use map that is in the end a pretty good livelihood map. It remains that some of information is available only as a image not as geo-data, probably because it can be sensitive information. Some geo-data can be found on the geonetwork.

I am fascinated by the amount of data that is actually available for a failed state, and get more and more exited to develop a research for development project for a country which exports 5 millions of livestock a year, which accounts for 40 % of GDP. A story to follow!