Farmers in Uganda’s Otuke district say climate-centred agricultural extension supported by CARE as part of the Partners for Resilience (PfR) programme has fortuitously helped them withstand the disruption caused by COVID-19 and lockdown
“Farmers who were facilitated to practice climate-smart agriculture in Otuke district have coped better with the present crisis of COVID-19, due to a high level of preparedness, diversified sources of income, and the growing of fast-maturing crops like okra,” says Otuke District Agricultural Officer Ocen Bonny.
Uganda’s lockdown is affecting farmers who have been unable to take advantage of the current rains to sow as usual.
It means social distancing and no public gatherings or vehicle movements, making normal farming operations very difficult, and rural people in Otuke also depend on normally crowded outdoor markets for goods and services.
At least 30 farmers in Otuke with up to 20 acres each have been trained in the PfR programme on cultivation of a variety of climate-smart crops. Some have raised nursery beds for vegetables and started transplanting them between mid-April and the beginning of this month.
They call this “forward-looking and adaptive cultivation”. Today Patrick Okello (photo), 38, is enjoying a bumper harvest of okra he planted near his home. He has a 20-acre farm in Alutkot village where he cultivates several varieties of fast-growing crops for sale and home consumption.
“I have been hearing about disaster preparedness and resilience from CARE in Uganda during several training sessions,” he says.
“When COVID-19 struck, I fully understood the meaning of disaster preparedness,” he adds.
He explains that those farmers trained by partners like CARE and the government should try to use the new knowledge and skills they have acquired to survive during this period.
“During this lockdown, I ride a motorcycle bought last year after selling beans up to Acholi and Karamoja sub-regions to sell okra.
“For the last month I have fetched 2.3 million shillings from okra and honey [1 USD = 3,790 Ugandan shillings], and I expect to earn more than 30 million shillings this year.”
Oyaro Benson, another farmer helped by CARE, added: “I sold seven breeding pairs of guineafowl at 75,000 shillings in April and stocked cereals for home consumption and planting during the first rains.”
“Whether the lockdown continues or not I am better prepared to cope with any eventualities thanks to CARE.”
Patrick Okello registered a bumper harvest of okra (pictured) and other vegetables despite lockdown difficulties. Farmers in his area are saying climate-smart agricultural methods have helped them withstand COVID.