Promoting Conservation Agriculture practices in annual cropping systems in DLDD prone areas. [Uganda]

Reporting Entity: Uganda

Completeness: 77%

General Information

General Information

Title of best practice:

Promoting Conservation Agriculture practices in annual cropping systems in DLDD prone areas.



Reporting Entity:



Section 1. Context of the best practice: frame conditions (natural and human environment)

Short description of the best practice

The best practice involves application of Conservation Agriculture (CA) practices, namely, minimum tillage, crop rotation, continuous soil cover and agroforestry combined with measures for efficient use of soil nutrients to improve crop yields an increase soil organic matter.|


Kamuli, Kaliro, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Lyantonde and Sembabule districts of Uganda.|

Brief description of the natural environment within the specified location.

The region receives rainfall ranging from 800-1200mm annually. Experiences two rainy seasons in March-Jne and August-November. Region experiences frequent and severe ry spells.
Region mostly flat with intermittent undulating hills.
Highly weathered Ferrlsols, shallow soils with very low nutrient reserves, soils predominantly degraded through soil erosion.|

Prevailing socio-economic conditions of those living in the location and/or nearby

Tenure sytems vary over the different districts. For example, Kamuli and Kaliro districts mainly have customary tenure; Nakaseke and Nakasongola have mailo land and leasehold tenure; Sembabule and Lyanonde districts have public land and leasehold tenure.|
Most of the households rely on crop and livestock enterprises, particularly annual crops such as maize, millet, sorghum, beans, ground nuts and soya beans for both income and food security; while Sembabule and Lyantonde districts have public land and leasehold tenure.|
Population mainly rural based subsistence smallholders and agropastoral communities with over 50% living under poverty.

On the basis of which criteria and/or indicator(s) (not related to The Strategy) the proposed practice and corresponding technology has been considered as 'best'?

(i) Technically feasible;
(ii) Economical;
(iii) Environmentally friendly;
(iv) Socially acceptable.

Section 2. Problems addressed (direct and indirect causes) and objectives of the best practice

Main problems addressed by the best practice

(a) Control of soil erosion;
(b) Low crop yields;
(c) Lack of resiliency to climate variability;
(d) High labour costs;
(e)Soil nutrient depletion.

Outline specific land degradation problems addressed by the best practice

(a) Soil erosion;
(b) Soil nutrient depletion.

Specify the objectives of the best practice

(a) To reduce land degradation and increase resiliency of annual cropping systems to climate variability through promoting the application of CA practices;
(b) To increase efficiency in use of soil nutrients and tillage technologies to increase crop productivity, food security and household incomes.|

Section 3. Activities

Brief description of main activities, by objective

1. Establishment of permanent planting basins across the slope before onset of rains;
2. Application of manure or inorganic basal fertilisers in the basins and covered with soil;
3. Ensure early planting at onset of rains;
4. Application of pre-emergence herbicides.
1. Ensure optimum plant populations in each basin at planting and take care to increase the survival rates;
2. Mulch the established crop to conserve soil moisture, increase soil organic matter and suppress weeds;
3. Apply top dressing fertilisers in each basin as appropriate to increase crop vigour, biomass, resistance to pests/ diseases, and effective flowering and filling;
4. After harvesting, cut down the crop straw and use it to mulch in-between the planting rows.|5. Open the planting basins for next season planting after harvesting the previous season's crop when the soil is still soft;
6. Implement a crop rotation system for the next planting season.

Short description and technical specifications of the technology

The identified site is slashed in preparation for construction of permanent planting basins. The basins are constructed using a hand hoe across the slope, with dimensions  of: width 15cm; depth 15cm;  and length 35cm. The distance from one basin to the next in the row is 35cm and the distance between rows is 75cm. Preparation for planting includes application of agricultural lime in basins where soils are acidic, application of basal fertilisers especially Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) one soda bottle top. Where not affordable, application of organic manure (one half-litre cup) should be added and covered with soil up to 10cm depth. Select clean and healthy seeds and ensure early planting at the onset of rains. Seed rates e.g. fr maize 3 seeds per basin, beans 6 seeds per basin, ground nuts 6 seeds per basin, soyabean 8 seeds per basin and cotton 4 seeds per basin. Apply Glyphosate herbicides at pre-emergence stage. Apply additional mulch in-between rows after the plant have established. For cereal crops, you may apply nitrogen fertilisers.|

Section 4. Institutions/actors involved (collaboration, participation, role of stakeholders)

Name and address of the institution developing the technology

Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Inustry and Fisheries (MAAIF) |P.O. Box 102, Entebbe, Uganda
Tel. +256-414-343696 (off)
Tel. +256-752-642536; +256-717-852104
E-mail. smuwaya@yahoo.com

Was the technology developed in partnership?


List the partners:

1. Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Inimal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF);
2. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat;
3. Zambia Conservation Farming Unit (CFU);
4. Rural Enterprise Development Services (REDS); and
5. National Agriculture Research organisation (NARO).|

Specify the framework within which the technology was promoted

  • Programme/project-based initiative
  • Other (please specify)


Was the participation of local stakeholders, including CSOs, fostered in the development of the technology?


List local stakeholders involved:

(a) 14 community groups from 6 dryland districts
(b) 6 District Local Governments

For the stakeholders listed above, specify their role in the design, introduction, use and maintenance of the technology, if any.

1. MAAIF - Integrated CA in SLM programme implemented in 6 districts; trained 14 community groups and supplied inputs and monitoring of activities;
2. COMESA Secretariat - Facilitate capacity building, awareness raising and support catalytic activities through study tours to Zambia;
3. Zambia CFU - Provide best practices and on-ground experience to Uganda officials and training of trainers.
4. REDS - Provide local training and extension services, input supply to farmers in some districts of Uganda;
5. District Local Governments (DLGs) - Identify community groups, procure CA inputs, supervise and monitor progress of CA activities in the respective districts, collect data on results of CA demos and provide progress reports.
6. Communities - Provide land and manage demo plots.|

Was the population living in the location and/or nearby involved in the development of the technology?


By means of what?
  • Participatory approaches
  • Other (please specify)



Section 5. Contribution to impact

Describe on-site impacts (the major two impacts by category)

Under the conventional cropping system, farmers on average receive maize yields of 750 kg/ha. Farmers who practiced CA received yields between 1500-2250 kg/ha in the first cropping season and this is expected to increase a they perfect the practice.|
Increased yields from CA practice provide additional benefits of food security and better incomes.
Efficient nutrient management increased he biomass production which provides mulch and increases soil organic matter, hence higher productivity of the soil.|
With the continuous return of crop residues as mulch over soil, there is increasing build up of soil organic matter.|
Farmers are able to produce more with less labour as CA helps them to distribute their labor e.g. by preparation of permanent planting basins in the dry season when labour is idle and reduce the drudgery by using herbicides for weed control. This is frees school children and women to do other work.
The minimum tillage drastically reduces soil erosion. The permanent planting basins constructed across slopes act as sinks to absorb run-off water, hence preventing erosion. Mulching equally deters movement of soil particles during rains.|

Describe the major two off-site (i.e. not occurring in the location but in the surrounding areas) impacts

Controlling soil erosion in annual cropping systems represents a significant step in controlling siltation of major water bodies f international importance such as Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga.
Carbon sequestration - Continuous application of organic matter through return of residues increases soil carbon.

Impact on biodiversity and climate change

Explain the reasons:

Continuous application of crop residues increases soil organic matter and below ground biodiversity as humus is a source of food for many microorganisms. The added OM contributes to sequestration of carbon contributing to climate change mitigation while the increased resilience of the crop to drought with application of OM contributes to climate change adaptation.

Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?

Has a cost-benefit analysis been carried out?


Section 6. Adoption and replicability

Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?

Was the technology disseminated/introduced to other locations?



Other sub-counties in the 6 project istricts.

Were incentives to facilitate the take up of the technology provided?

Were incentives to facilitate the take up of the technology provided?


Specify which type of incentives:
  • Financial incentives (for example, preferential rates, State aid, subsidies, cash grants, loan guarantees, etc)

Can you identify the three main conditions that led to the success of the presented best practice/technology?

Improved incomes - this provided a big incentive for the farming groups as they are able to meet their household needs and save some money for investment.
Technically sound but simple - The practice is very simple, does not require specialised skills and can be easily done by men, women and chaildren.|
Cost effective operations - The activities are cost effective since operations are not labour intensive and the labour requirements are spread out throughout the year, even in the dry season when labour is idle.|


In your opinion, the best practice/technology you have proposed can be replicated, although with some level of adaptation, elsewhere?


At which level?
  • Local
  • Sub-national
  • National
  • Regional

Section 7. Lessons learned

Related to human resources

1. The practice has been effective in ensuring distribution of labour as opposed to the labour bottlenecks created by the conventional farming systems.
2. The use of herbicides to control weeds saves a lot of time and labour that can be put to other productive uses or even give the farmers time to rest in preparation for other activities.

Related to technical aspects

1. The practice has proved to be technically simple and can be easily carried out by all classes of farmers.
2. The partnerships created enable the farmers to access genuine inputs locally ad timely to enable them plant the crops on time.

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