Contribution of ASARECA and NaLIRRI to food security and household income in smallholder crop-livestock systems in Masaka and Ngora districts Uganda: Success stories

Kabirizi, J.; Lubega, J.; 1Bulegeya, M.; 3Ndikumana, J.; 3Zziwa, E. and 4Kyeswa, C. National Livestock Resources Research Institute, P.O. Box 96, Tororo, Uganda; E-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Agricultural Research and Information Centre, National Agricultural Research Laboratories,P.O. Box 7065, Kampala
Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, P.O. Box 765, Entebbe, Uganda; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Send-a Cow, P.O. Box 16033, Kampala, Uganda, E-mail :  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Agriculture continues to be critical for rural poverty reduction, employment, economic growth and food security in Eastern and Central Africa (ECA). Despite a perception that ECA is an urbanized region, roughly one third to one half of people still live in rural areas. Agricultural production, processing, and related services remain an important source of income in many ECA countries. However, the agricultural sector is highly climate sensitive and potential adverse changes in temperature, precipitation and the frequency of extreme events (for example, droughts, heat waves, floods, forest fires) as a result of climate change are likely to increase the vulnerability of poor rural communities. This will place a strain on institutions, food supply and rural growth. This risk is further exacerbated by the relatively low productivity associated with a lack of capacity to adapt to the present climate in many ECA countries, resulting in an adaptation deficit. In addition, even for farmers in countries that have the potential to benefit from climate change in the future, many are poorly positioned to take full advantage of such opportunities, unless investments and policy changes are implemented.

In view of the above challenges, ASARECA and the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) implemented (2011-2013) a project “Harnessing crop-livestock integration to enhance food security and livelihoods resilience to effects of climate change in Eastern and Central Africa (LFP 12)” to enhance productivity and competitiveness of integrated smallholder crop-livestock systems in Uganda through the promotion of market oriented integrated smallholder dairy and vegetable production units while developing gender responsive innovations to boost their resilience to the effects of climate change and variability. This document summarizes farmers’ experiences in testing climate smart agriculture technologies and innovations in Masaka and Ngora districts of Uganda.

What is climate-smart agriculture?

Agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes greenhouse gases (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.

Description of study sites

Masaka district

Masaka district is situated about 37kms. away from the Equator towards the south and lies between 00 250 South and 320 East, having an average altitude of 1,150 m above sea level (Figure 1). The District has a total land area of about 4560.4sq. kms. The annual average rainfall is 800-1,000 mm with 100-120 rainy days, in two seasons. The bi-modal rainfall seasons are March – May and September to November. Mean temperature ranges between 160C and 300C, while relative humidity is 62.1%. The district is typically dependent on crop-livestock systems. The soil texture is ranges from red-latrine, sandy loan and loam but in general, productive. The total geographical area of the district is about 6986 sq. kms out of which 5865 sq. kms is arable and 122,120 hectares are under cultivation considerable area is covered by marshlands, lakes, rivers, forestry and swamps. The total gazetted forest estate is about 35302 hectares this constitutes about 6.38% of the total land area of the district.

Ngora district

Ngora District was established on 1st July 2010 by the Ugandan Parliament. Before that it was part of Kumi District. The district lies at an altitude of between 1,036 and 1,127 meters above sea level. According to UBOS (2008), the estimated population of Ngora District was 356,500. This population is mainly rural with about 5% characterized as urban population.

Average rainfall ranges between 1000 mm and 1500 mm coming in two seasons: March–May and September–November. There is a short dry spell between the two rain seasons during mid-June–mid July. The long dry season sets in during late November through early March. The distribution is such that areas bordering Northeast experience earlier dry seasons. The vegetation in Ngora district is characterized by wooded savannah, short-grass savannah, forests and short grassland that is ideal for grazing.

Mixed agriculture is practiced, with cultivation by oxen as the main agricultural technology and livestock kept extensively in those areas that are tsetse-fly free. The main crops grown include; millet, groundnuts, sorghum, rice, cowpea, and soybeans, which are predominantly intercropped. Other crops include potatoes, cassava, sunflower and bananas with cotton as the major cash crop.

Figure 1: Map of Uganda showing location of Ngora and Masaka districts

A. Farmers’ success stories in Masaka district

1. Nakayiki Rose, Chairperson, Butale Balunzi Balunzi Twegatte Group, Butale village, Bukoto sub-county, Kabonera

Ms. Nakayiki is involved in vegetable growing, zero grazing. Before NaLIRRI-ASARECA project, group members used to suffer losses due to long droughts, lack of markets for their vegetables, and milk. The quality and quantity of milk was low. The group acquired a solar dryer, under-ground water tank and treadle pump for irrigation of vegetables and watering animals, pasture seed, (lablab ), training on ghee processing and group dynamics and saving .


The group members process and sell their vegetables at competitive prices

With improved animal feeding, the quality and quantity of milk has increased and the group has a milk collection centre, market their milk as a group which earns them higher profits. With increased vegetable and milk production, nutrition has improved in the families and the income from the sale of milk and vegetables has helped them educate their children. Also income generated has also been used to start a saving scheme among the group where members are allowed to borrow at a very low interest.


2. Stephine Korry a neighbour to Nakayiki also belongs to this group (Butale Balumi Balunzi Twegate)

Ms. Stephine Korry has been practicing zero grazing since 1999. She received the first in-calf cow from the World Vision. She received pasture seed from the NaLIRRI-ASARECA project and planted on one acre. With improved pastures, milk production has increased by two litres. She has also gained from animal manure which she applies on her vegetables for better yields. This has enabled her earn money to educate her children and has improved nutrition in her family and is able to supply milk to breast feeding mothers in her neighborhood. She has a nursery school and pupils with their teachers benefit from the milk she produces.

3. Ms Jeninah Katende of Kasenyi village belongs is also a member of Butale Balimi Balunzi Farmers Group

She used to feed her cow on elephant (Napier) grass alone, the animal was not getting adequate feeding and was yielding very low milk. Her group was trained in better animal feeding and the project provided them with pasture seed for planting and multiplication. When she started feeding her cow on improved pastures, the cow’s health improved and her milk production gradually increased from 5 litres to 12 litres per day. This was noticed by her neighbours who have since started their own pasture plots with seed from her. Her challenge now is the low supply of pasture seed due to heavy demand from the village mates who have realized the benefit of improved pastures. She has managed to give out to a few farmers.

4. Ms Nakanjako Janet of Taga-Kasana, Kingo subcounty in Masaka district

She received a zero grazing cow from MAADO. Initially she was using a matchet (panga) to chop elephant grass for her cow. There was a lot of wastage of the grass and very often the panga would cut her fingers in the process of chopping grass for the animal.

The project provided her with a fixed knife forage chopper andher group was trained in making hay from Brachiaria mulato and forage conservation for dry season feeding.

The forage chopper has made work easier, and enabled maximum food utilisationThe group was also provided with an underground water tank for the animals and home use.

Manure from the animals has improved on food production. The farmer has benefitted from various training from project staff. She encourages other farmers to come and learn from her group members so that they too can benefit.

5. Emanuel Bukenya, a farmer/Trainer from Kakunyu village, Masaka District got a zero grazing cow from Kulika Trust for Sustainable Agriculture.

Before the project, he was experiencing problems with feeding the animal.The project trained him and his group of 50 members (Kakunyu Farmer’s Group) in animal nutrition (including mineral block making) and better animal husbandry. He received and planted Brachiaria planting materials from the project. His animal now feeds on high quality feeds consisting of a mixture of feeds and legumes.The farmer has realized increased milk production from 5 litres to 8 litres due to improved feeding.He has also noted that good animal feeding enables the animal “get on heat” earlier.The increased milk production has improved his income and family food wellbeing.Mr Bukenya is now a Key Farmer Trainer (KFT) in Kikunyu village and has so far trained and provided fodder seed to over 45 farmers in the neighboring g villages in animal feeding, milk handling and general cattle management.

6. Mr. Mayanja Leonard/Immaculate, Kyabbogo-Nkoni, Kingo, Lwengo District

The couple belongs to Bulimutaka Women’s Group affiliated to Send a Cow and are both farmer trainers. Mrs Mayanja is a Peer Farmer and trains farmers in vegetable growing and organic agriculture. Her husband, Mr Mayanja Leonard trains farmers in cheap ways of water harvesting using underground tanks.

The project discovered that the couple was already harvesting water from surface run-off and decided to contract them to construct more tanks in Bukulula, Kabonera, Taga ,Kitenga, Kikunyu. Many farmers are now using the dams to irrigate coffee, home use and for livestock. The couple has so far trained over 30 groups some with a membership of over 35 farmers in water harvesting for coffee production, organic vegetable production and marketing.

7. Mr. and Mrs. Daaki Peter, Kitenga village-Kalagala,Mukungwe, Masaka district a member of Akamira Eyiye

Mr Daaki, a retired teacher started practicing zero grazing in 1989 with one local cow which he later exchanged for a Friesian calf. He received training on zero grazing from several NGOs including World Vision, MAADO but still experienced the problem of poor feeding for the animals due to inadequate forage lack of knowledge on fodder preservation.

Project interventions:

The family has received training on aspects dairy and vegetable production; forage seed (Centrocema, Brachiaria, Napier grass that is tolerant to Napier stunt disease and desmodium), underground water tank and treadle pump, a forage chopper and vegetable seeds.



The family has been able to improve household income and nutrition. Mrs. Daaki testified that she earns over Shs 120,000 from a 12 x 30 ft vegetable garden which she produces throughout the year because the family has water for irrigation and applies animal manure. The vegetables are a boost to nutrition in the family.

The farmer has been trained in making multinutrient mineral blocks which he sells to other zero grazers. He is also doing hay and silage conservation. From the animal wastes the farmer is able to set up a biogas plant which provides energy for cooking and lighting. He has constructed a descent house. The income has also helped him educated his children up to University and other institutions of higher learning (3 graduates). He has used acquired income to start other projects e.g. poultry

Capacity building

The local community have appreciated and adopted the technologies especially silage and hay making and storage. Local communities have received and multiplied fodder seed supplied by the farmer thus improving on the local community. He has trained over 100 farmers from the neighboring districts some as far as Mbarara and Bushenyi. The family has gained a lot of publicity in newspaper, magazines (Uganda @ 50 published by monitor), and Television programmes. This has been attributed to their excellent work. The family has been able to renovate their house.


8. Ms Agnes Kagimu of Akamira Eyiye Farmers’s Group, Kitenga village –Kalagala,Mukungwe-Masaka

Technologies adopted: Drip irrigation for vegetables.

She has regular supply of vegetables for the market and earns over Shs 60,000 which enables her to cater for her basic needs like paraffin, soap, scholastic materials for the children and medical treatment. She encourages other women to take up the activity as a source of income.


  1. The groups received training on ghee production but were unable to produce ghee due to low fat content of the milk.
  2. Pineapple drying has not been successful because its takes a longer time
  3. Packaging and labelling of their products needs to be improved if they are to penetrate local and regional markets.


More irrigation needed to increase vegetable production. Gobe, carrots,cabbage and katunkuma are most popular with the farmers therefore more seeds are required to expand on production. Farmers expressed need for Training on Yogurt making,

9. Mrs. Mary Lwanyaga, Kitenga village

Mrs. Lwanyaga said that she has improved income through vegetable production. She benefited from water harvesting and is able to produce vegetables throughout the year through irrigation and manure application.


Group interviews

10. Butale Balunzi Balimi Twegate Group is located in Butale-Bukoto in Masaka district. It has a membership of 12 members. The group received the following technologies from NaLIRRI-ASARECA project: improved pasture seeds, vegetable seeds and solar dryers, and training in savings.

The group members had earlier received Dairy cows from Masaka Diocesan Development Organization (MADDO) with an exception one member who benefited from The World Vision. They admitted to have faced challenges of feed resources (pastures) and water availability for domestic use and giving their animals.

The technologies and knowledge provided by the project has significantly improved their livelihoods of the group members and their community. Working in a group has helped them sell their milk collectively to fetch better prices. They sell their milk to Masaka town. They have also enjoyed a lot of publicity in the media and they are always invited to exhibit their products (dried vegetables especially) on various exhibitions recently being UMA-show in Jinja. They are already planning to participate in another Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) exhibition to take place at Lugogo show ground on the 9th October, 2013.

The group challenges include;

  1. The activity of ghee production did not take off because the milk from the animals has a low fat content
  2. Drying pineapples also failed because they were taking long to dry
  3. Despite high demand for their dry products, they still face challenge of packaging and labelling.
  4. Members who have not benefited from water harvesting tanks still face a challenge of growing vegetables during the dry season.

11. Kamenyamiggo District Agricultural and Information Centre

This is a government institution in Masaka district with a major objective of training young women and men who are not able to continue to tertiary institutions because of financial problems. The Centre Manager said “Over 500 youth have benefitted from technologies introduced by NaLIRRI and ASARECA. These include use of livestock production in vegetable production; pot-harvest procession of vegetables, forage production and utilization and general dairy cattle management@.

12. Abandemu women’s group is located in Buyikuzi village, Lusasa-Bukulula Kalungu district. It has a membership of 20 members (3men, 4 youth).

Nakidde Madina a new member to the group says she has already been exposed. She recently participated in an exhibition in Masaka town and says that many people appreciated their dried products. There was a very high demand for them (products) and other people were asking for the group contacts to come for training. The most demanded products included Nakati, Katunkuma, Corrots, Cabbages, and Egg Plants.

Technologies introduced to them by NaLIRRI-ASARECA project include:

  1. Improved fodder banks (maize intercropped with lablab; Napier or/and Brachiaria grass intercropped with forage legumes
  2. Water harvesting technology (the tanks)
  3. Vegetable growing

The group further says that they have gained a lot of publicity by appearing on T.V such as Bukkede. They have also gained international friends from Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya as a result of these project activities.

The group members mentioned the following as key benefits from group formation:

  1. Groups are easily supported for tours to learn from other areas
  2. They have been able to get friends and publicity
  3. Working in groups helps them learn from one another
  4. Groups help them handle bigger tasks that can be handled by an individual alone e.g. digging a compost pit.
  5. Farmers mentioned that the study tours and workshops were a new experience for them and were highly appreciated. The tours and workshops helped them learn new forage technologies and to increase the efficiency on their farms. The participatory approach stimulated households to exchange knowledge on all aspects of crop and livestock farming.
  6. The attitude and approach of extension staff changed. In the past, the extension staff were only concerned with animal health, when the project began the extension staff became more interested in animal feeding and breeding. Extension services especially artificial insemination was more readily available and more reliable. Farmers received more training and were involved in workshops more often.
  7. Participating farmers reported that their success in the trials attracted many other farmers from within and outside the district.
  8. The group members involved themselves in various economic activities such as crop and livestock production and drama as a means to raise their standard of living.
  9. Being together in groups helped them to combine their efforts in improving their economic activities.
  10. Lwanga Ssenfuka, another youth looking after M/S Nakakande’s cows is very appreciative of the pastures introduced by NARO-ASAARECA project since they give them enough feeds for the animals. This has also increased their milk production that has been reflected on their wages. He also says that he has benefited from the tours organized under the project.
  11. The groups also helped women to get recognition in the village and respect by their husbands.
  12. These women further stated that the project activities have kept occupied and there is no-more idleness that results rumour mongering among women.
  13. As a result of the popularity of our group, our members have gained positions of leaderships in different institutions such churches, schools and hospitals where we serve on different committees” says the chairperson of Abendemu women’s group.

They suggest that a project gives them other dairy breeds that feed less compared Frisian which they say they are heavy feeders.

B. Farmer testimonies from Ngora District

1. Margret Kongai hails from Osigiria Village, Ngora town council in Ngora District

Benefits from the project

  1. The pastures performed very well even during the dry season, I could still harvest the green pastures and feed my animal direct. I have reserved another area where I am going to grow more pastures and conserve them into hay. The forage chopper has made the work of chopping grass so easy and faster and I am able to save a lot of time to attend to other business. The pastures doubled the milk production of my cow from 5litres to 10 liters a day.
  2. Vegetables too did well with the exception of tomatoes, this was because we practice organic farming and therefore we don’t encourage the use of chemicals. Never the less, I was able to get some for home consumption and also sold some to the surrounding community”.   
  3. The project has training us on value addition. This included vegetable drying using a solar drier, milk processing (ghee, cheese, yoghurt and butter). Most farmers in her group have picked interest in vegetable drying because it helps us to preserve the vegetables for a long time in addition to drying. Margret sells her vegetables to the near-by Ngora High school and she is able to fetch Ug. Shs. 200,000 a month from an area of less than half an acre. She sells her eggs plants to the locals around.


  1. Margret says that they were given little starter seed for the pastures but they learnt to multiply their own seed.
  2. The material used in the water harvesting tank has been destroyed by the spear grass, heat and termites resulting in dysfunctional tanks. The heat also destroys the materials of the solar drier trays.

2. Olupot Rehema hails from Osigira Village, Ngora Town council. She had earlier received from Send a cow project before the NARO=NaLIRRI=ASARECA intervention. She went ahead to write another proposal that earned her another heifer.

Rehean says the interventions of the NARO-ASAARECA did not only bring her new technologies and knowledge but also exposed her to more friends. Rehema has benefited from the following technologies from the project;

  1. Fixed knife forage grass chopper,
  2. Treadle pump,
  3. Improved pastures seeds,
  4. Vegetable seed


  1. In the first season of planting, Mr. Rehema was able to earn Ug. Shs 170,000/= from her vegetables. She also realized the importance of the pastures and she plans to expand from original small plot to half an acre during the rainy season.
  2. She appreciates the trainings she got from the project especially on vegetable processing which increases the shell life the vegetables, but admits that they still have a challenge on attracting the market beyond their community because of poor packaging. On value addition to milk, the group is unable to find on a local market a special material used for sieving ghee.
  3. She appreciates the project interventions that have resulted in increased food in the homes and also selling the surplus to earn money. They have also received visitors from outside their communities and they too have got a chance to go visit other farmers beyond their communities.

3. Mr. Ouma Silver from Okoia vaillage, Ngora town council

He received vegetable seeds (onions, cabbages, Sukuma Wiki, and green paper) from the project.


  1. Before these interventions, he used to have shortages of vegetables for home consumption. But he now has plenty of the vegetables that have resulted in improved on his family’s nutrition status. “My kids now look very healthy” Mr. Ouma states. “Vegetables have also increased my income since I sell some to the market”.
  2. He also says that training on vegetable drying has helped them conserve the vegetables for ‘hard-times’ i.e. during the dry season. He further says that he is one of the beneficiaries of the rain water harvesting technology but he no longer uses it because the material used for lining was weak and no longer holds water. His suggestion to this is using bricks and cement instead of tarpaulin. He believes that with efficient rain water harvesting technology in-place, they will be able to produce the vegetables all year round.

4. Mrs. Asio Jennifer hails from Kumel Village, Mukula Sub-county.

Mrs. Asio says that before the project intervention, the wife and husband husband were living in complete poverty with no clear source of income. When she joined the project, she got exposed and got more informed. She received vegetable seeds and a drier from the project. This has resulted in increased family income earned from the vegetable sells. “We recently purchased a goat “.


  1. Despite the benefits, Mrs Asio says they still face some challenges; she talked about the solar-dryer trays that are continuously spoilt by the sun heat. 
  2. Her failure to grow the vegetables during the dry season because the nearest source of water is 3 km away. 
  3. She plans to expand on her vegetable growing enterprise and earn more money. Never the less, she acknowledges the efforts of the project.

5. Ms. Achamu Florence from Nayamongo village, Ngora S/C

6. Apolot Jane Emurai from Osigiria Western Ward, Ngora T/C

7. Akurut Rose received blakeria seeds from the project.

8. Amongin Anne Grace


This is an output from a project “Harnessing crop-livestock integration to enhance food security and livelihoods resilience to effects of climate change in Eastern and Central Africa” funded by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) region. We acknowledge financial and technical support from ASARECA, National Agricultural Research Laboratories; Send-a-Cow and the National Livestock Resources Research Institute. Special thanks to the farmers, local district extension staff and policy makers for their cooperation.

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