Small-scale farm forestry system: Research experience in Mubende, Uganda

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James with a 78-year-old man from Nakasozi Village, Mubende District, who plants E. grandis (©Galandi)

I am Galandi James from Makerere University, Uganda. Within the WoodCluster project, I carried out research on wood production from small- to medium-scale Farm Forestry Systems in greater Mubende district, Uganda. Over the years, small- and medium tree planters received limited attention in both academic research and development programs. Despite the contribution from small scale tree farmers in reducing wood product supply gap, major attention has always been given to large-scale tree farmers during research studies causing limited scientific information on how small- and medium-scale tree farmers contribute to wood supply in Uganda. This implies a challenge and gap in research.

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James and a farmer (©Galandi)

This research was done as a part of fulfillment for completion of my Masters of Science degree in Agroforestry and Community Development at Makerere University, Uganda. My study mainly investigated potential contributions of farm forestry systems among small and medium scale farmers in addressing supply gap of wood products, particularly timber and poles in Uganda. Specifically, the study sought to characterize Farm Forestry Systems (FFS) in the study area, assess the factors motivating engagement in farm forestry, determine the growth performance of the most grown tree species in different FFS, and investigate the main challenges and actions to enhance wood production in FFS. Quantitative method was used during primary data collection and analysis from tree and non-tree farmers followed by field observation (tree measurement), geo-spatial analysis and review of literature. Descriptive statistics was used while multivariate statistical methods were carried out to establish relationships between variables.

Study results indicated that woodlot system was mostly practiced, followed by boundary and finally scattered system. Eucalyptus species, followed by Pinus species, are the most grown trees. Given the patriarchal nature of the society, males dominated tree planting across all Farm Forestry Systems since most had individually bought and owned land. Therefore, the main decision makers and tree farmers were much older than the non-tree farmers. The key factors that influence tree growing in the area were the period of stay in an area, land size, as well as availability of financial capital.

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Boundary Trees –  James and a farmer on her farm with boundary trees (©Galandi)

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Woodlot – James and a farmer in his 4-year woodlot of clonal Eucalyptus (©Galandi)

The growth performance of trees under boundary and woodlot Farm Forestry System was different, G. robusta in the Boundary and E. grandis in the woodlot system had a better growth performance compared to the rest of the species. Growth performance of trees in woodlot was better than those in other systems. Pests and diseases plus lack of trainings were the most eminent limitations for tree growing. The major challenges faced were pests and diseases, financial constraints, limited land and environmental hazards. The most suggested actions to enhance wood production were use of chemicals, acquisition of loans, trainings, access to quality seedlings and forming farmer groups. In conclusion, the evolution of technology such as improved seedlings has a strong linkage to Farm Forestry System employed by farmers. Source of seedlings is a significant predictor of FFS used by farmers. The number of years a respondent lived in the village influenced the type of Farm Forestry System implemented. Land size influences the adoption of the type of Farm Forestry System.

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James Galandi and a farmer (©Galandi)

Recommendations from this study reveal a need for training farmers in modern tree planting in order to improve their knowledge and production as well as availability of chemicals to reduce pests and diseases. Tree Farmers should adopt the woodlot Farm Forestry System in order to realize the quantity of wood required by the increasing population. Follow up studies on how to incorporate indigenous knowledge in controlling pests and diseases in the area are equally needed. Tree farmers should be encouraged to grow G. robusta and E. grandis under the boundary and Woodlot system, respectively. Management practices like weeding, pruning and thinning should be carried out at the right time. Other recommendations include consistent training in tree management for tree farmers and forest workers, and motivating voluntary formation of tree farmers’ groups, and establishment of service centres aiming at advising tree farmers.

However, during the course of my study, I faced some challenges such as language barriers, absence of tree owners, harsh respondents due to issues of land grabbing, expensive means of transport and disturbances by rainfall. It was seen that some farmers in Mubende do not have land titles, so even if they grow their trees, all of a sudden, certain people could come and force them to leave the land. Now when researchers or new people go there, they could be mistaken to be looking for information which might later make them leave the land by force.

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Field work (©Galandi)

To overcome the challenge of harsh respondents in particular, I had to present my university identity card, library card, national identity card to avoid suspicion. In addition, I had to be humble, a good listener, obedient, eat local food, hire local motorbikes and bicycles, walk on foot and use a careful language when talking to them. It’s also important to give them time to express their views; for example, an elderly man had interesting stories to tell me, and later I could call him my grandfather. He used to give me free mangoes and helped me a lot to mobilize other farmers and told them that I was his grandson at a university, and not a stranger. I sought help from the people they knew to translate and guide me in the field, so as to avoid suspicion. I did not force those who refused to participate in the interview. I thanked everybody for welcoming me in their homes, usually I said a simple saying that “Jesus will also come in the same way like a stranger”.

Furthermore, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Almighty God who enabled me to survive and carry out this study. I am deeply indebted to my academic supervisors; Assoc. Prof. Gorettie Nsubuga Nabanoga and Dr. Justine Jjumba Namaalwa (Makerere University Wood Cluster project coordinator) for their continuous guidance, advise and encouragement since the concept preparation to report finalization without which this work would not be produced. My sincere gratitude goes to the administration of the Wood Cluster project for giving me the opportunity and financial support to actively participate as a scholar which enabled me to accomplish this thesis.

Special thanks go to Prof. Pretch, Dr. Auch, Dr. Maxi Domke (TU Dresden Wood Cluster project coordinator), and Margot (DAAD). I would also like to express my deepest thanks to my mentors Dr. Hellen Kongai (RUFORUM), Ritah Kigonya and Antony Tugainayo for their career guidance and material support. I would like to extend my appreciation to the entire administration of Mubende District Government Officials, who warmly welcomed and allowed me to conduct research in this area and all the farmers who made this research a reality by responding positively.

By James Galandi

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