Enhancing Rice Markets in Uganda through smart micro-nutrient fertilization (ENRICH)

Donor: Government of the Netherlands through WOTRO-NWO

Duration: August, 2016 to December 2018

Introduction:  Rice is an important crop with rapidly growing demand in Uganda. At least 90% of the increased production resulted from land expansion, while yields remained stagnant and are declining in some areas.

Fertilizers have the potential to greatly increase yields but very few farmers use it and even if they do, yield responses may be undermined by an inadequate level of micronutrients in the soils.

On-farm trials reveal that addition of micronutrients to NPK significantly increases yields. The benefits from adding micronutrients include increased yield, improved grain quality, increased uptake efficiency of NPK fertilizers and increased economic returns.

These mutually reinforcing benefits may incentivise farmers to buy and use fertilizers. Therefore, innovations in nutrient packaging and delivery mechanisms are needed.

The goal of this project is to increase food security and income of smallholder farmers producing lowland rice with the main objective to significantly increase the productivity of lowland rice in Eastern and Northern Uganda. Specific objectives are:

1.       Understand the current situation and rice fertility challenges in the region.

2.       Evaluate and identify the appropriate composition and mode of application of micronutrients (Smartfert) for optimum yield of lowland rice.

3.       Integrate and out scale SmartFert into ongoing development programs and production practices, and support institutional and research capacity for rice sector development.

Description of activities. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and Key Informant interviews (KIs)were held with the stakeholders and key informants to identify practices and challenges in rice fertility.

Data on soil micronutrients from AfrII and IFDC-VFRC were used to provide soil fertility information and maps to assess fertilizer needs, including micronutrients for the trials.

A series of replicated field experiments to evaluate the performance of a combination of fertilizers and micronutrients and two modes of application were conducted at Doho, Bugiri and Olweny rice schemes in the first and second years of the project.

Farmers Research Groups (FRGs) (representatives elected by farmers) were set up and trained to evaluate the trials at critical stages of the experiment to enable them appreciate the treatment combinations.

The best micronutrient fertilizer combinations were selected, based on both the scientific and farmers evaluations, for advancement to participatory on-farm trials.

The best fertilizer and micronutrient combinations from the on-farm trials were selected and underwent series of demonstrations at farmers’ fields; and out scaling for wider adoption using field days, shows, tours and farm exchange visits.

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