UGANDA – Rice farmers in Uganda are reaping big from a three-year project dubbed Enhancement of rice productivity through adaptation of climate-smart Agricultural Options and market responsive strategies smart climate agricultural method.

The project is in its second year of implementation spearheaded by the Makerere University in partnership with the Kikuube district local government.

Speaking during an evaluation and capacity-building meeting for the farmers benefiting from the project Dr. Patrick Musinguzi, the principal investigator for Makerere University challenged farmers to take advantage of demo farms established in the area.

Godfrey Byakagaba one of the renowned Rice farmers in Kikuube Kikyaya said that the project has empowered the farmers and enabled them to benefit from Rice growing.

According to him, before the introduction of the project, he would harvest 10 bags of rice from an acre but when he started practicing modern methods of growing rice, he harvested 20 bags of rice from an acre.

Dr. Musinguzi noted that the technology could help farmers adapt to new farming technology to be able to thrive in the rice farming business under this continued climate change and exhausted soils.

With good agronomic management practices, good fertilization practices, and good smart climate agricultural methods a farmer can double yields.

Dr. Musinguzi revealed that research shows that a farmer can get 16 to 20 bags of rice from one acre of land.

According to him, the problem with rice in the area has been mainly poor rice nutrition because of moisture stress and nutrient stress.

The project which started in 2022 focuses on promoting the growth of upland rice (NAMCHE5) which is highly nutritious and resistant to climate change with funding from the Africa Plant Nutrition Institute.

Byakagaba added that several farmers have benefited from the demo gardens that were established in the area, and they are practicing rice growing than before.

In addition, farmers noted the technology allowed them to stop using broadcasting methods which was costly.

Dr. Musinguzi noted that with good methods of farming, farmers can grow rice on a piece of land for more than three seasons without changing to another land and get a better yield than before.

John Bagumirabingi the coordinator of the project in the Kikuube district commended Makerere for promoting rice growing in the district adding few farmers have been not engaging in rice because they have not benefited from the business due to poor rice growing methods.

Dr. Musinguzi, however, encouraged farmers that rice farming was possible adding that the sector pays more than any other crops such as maize, beans, and sugarcane since the market is available but needs serious farmers because it requires a lot of care.