In our approach to adressing the challenges faced by the community in the concern of farming productivity, ecological sustainability and creating stable community systems, we use the approach of agroecology. We understand this scientific discipline as one that involves a global outlook on agriculture and the environment in a context of human livelihood.
We encourage the respect of beneficial indigenous practices used in agriculture such as: non-mechanized agriculture, use of drought resistant varieties and handling farmwork as a community („Ekitai“ in Teso language). The development of techniques focuses on the use of scientific knowledge applied to local resources in soil fertility, pest-control, etc. to complement existing practices.
HOW WE WORK.
#1 DEVELOPMENT AND ADAPTATION OF TECHNOLOGIES
Agroecological technologies based on the use of local resources (eg. push-pull) are gathered and adapted to the needs of the community. Secondly, development of new techniques (eg. organic no-till) is pursued through trials and continuous learning.
Technologies are implemented in two stages: initially, in an experimental capacity to observe yields and challenges followed by integration into an existing program such as the organic food self-sufficiency project and partnership projects with different facets of the community.
Realised knowledge is then shared to community members through forums, seminars and collaborated projects. To achieve sustainability, EMAUA has a focus on the youth and school children, who are highly adaptive and open-minded to novel solutions and ideas.
CURRENTLY WE WORK ON...
ORGANIC FERTILIZERS AND INSECTICIDES
Fertilizing the soil and controling insects are essential requirements in the production of cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, etc. Therefore, since 2015, EMAUA has used Tithonia diversifolia, a wild shrub know for its soil fertilizing properties, to produce organic food on 8 acres of land.
An extraction from Capsicum annuum (a wild variety of hot pepper) and T. diversifolia has shown promising results on the control of aphids on vegetables and fruits. Experimentation to expand the spectrum of the insecticide to other crops and insects is on-going.
Worldwide, soil erosion is as big a problem as climate change, according to GIEC experts. Hence the necessity of developing new agricultural technics that enhance soil conservation and boosts fertility. In 2016, we conducted trials that involved the planting of maize without prior tilling in a field that had been covered with Desmodium uncinatum. The main challenge observed concerned rodents destroying infant plants. Further experiments will have an aim at extending no-till technics to other cereals (eg. fingermillet, sorghum and amaranth).
We gathered and cultivated in a small scale a number of wild or semi-wild plants being used in communities, that show potential as edible plants e.g. roots, vegetables, fruits and edible seeds. Most of them are disregarded because they are seen as "food of the poor", even though in some cases they present promising properties: drought resistance or good competing skills against weeds.
The potential of mushrooms as a source of proteins as well as a high income generating activity led EMAUA to explore a low-tech production of Ganoderma and Pleurotus mushrooms. We observed challenges related to maintainence of the sterile environment, sourcing of viable inoculant and insufficient capacity training of the team. Despite negligeable results, we intend to address these difficulties for future development.
Isegeretoto Organic Food Self-sufficiency Project was EMAUA‘s pilot project. It has been conducted since 2015 on the school‘s 8 acres of land. The goal is to achieve a significant food self-sufficiency rate as well as producing nutritious organic food for the pupils and staff. Apart from the direct beneficiaries, it provides a realistic scale for the application of agroecological technics, as well as a source of income for our casual labourer in time where it is most needed.
The ideas of starting the Isegeretoto Self-sufficiency Project were first conceived in pursuit of alternative food production methods that would mitigate and prevent reoccurrence of the harsh food shortages and hunger, as experienced in 2008. Its first aim was to produce organic food for the pupils and staff in the school, using means that are ecologically responsible, high yielding and gives space for the intangible cultural aspects of life. Furthermore, it serves as a model for food self-sufficiency, that we intend to replicate with other institutions in the area. It also provides a source of much needed income for the locals as well as serving as demonstrations and learning grounds for the techniques encouraged by EMAUA.
METHOD & PRODUCTION
The mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia), a wild shrub that is found in abundance in the region, presented itself as a promising option as a green manure for soil fertilisation. The project also aims at producing a diverse range of food, both in dietary terms as well as for ecological stability. We opted to grow local varieties of crops, with exception for those that were not available i.e. cabbage and kale.