The area in western Uganda under the jurisdiction of Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute, one of the institutes of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) stretch across three Agricultural Production Zones (APZs), that is, Western Savannah Grasslands, Pastoral Rangelands, and Highland Ranges (GOU, 2004). The area is comprised of seven districts including: Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo and Ntoroko. It has a majorly rural population of 2,754,200 (UBOS, 2016) and covers a total surface area of 13,969.5 sq km (UBOS, 2016). There are different land uses and land cover including national parks, built up areas, water resources, agricultural land, and pasturelands. The climate is tropical within which exists a wide variation of climatic conditions including wet lowland, dry savanna, wet mountain forest and alpine forest. The area experiences a bimodal rainfall pattern with average annual rainfall ranging from 750-1000mm. Temperature ranges from moderate to high, depending on the altitude. Kasese, one of the districts in the area records the highest temperature in the country, averaging about 33oC annually. Lakes Albert, Edward and George are the biggest water bodies in the area in which most rivers drain. River Semliki is the biggest river which flows from Bundibugyo District into Lake Albert. Other rivers include Mubuku and Nyamwamba in Kasese District. River Mpanga starts in Kabarole rolling through Kamwenge and drains into Lake George. The major wetland in the area is the Semliki River line wetland system. There are other minor seasonal wetlands distributed all over the area, especially in the lowlands. There are a lot of sedimentary materials deposited by water and air (e.g. volcanic ashes – pyroclastic materials) comprising young shallow soils in the mountainous regions. The soils range from very old (highly weathered) e.g. Ferralsols to the young ones such as Andosols.
Agro economic activities
The major economic activities include; farming, stone quarrying, fishing, salt mining, apiculture, open mining (e.g. cobalt, copper, sulphur, etc.) and tourism; which all have an impact on land resources and their management. The major agricultural commodities in the area include: maize, bananas, coffee, beans, tea, potatoes, cocoa, cotton, vanilla, pyrethrum, agroforestry, woodlots, and livestock.
Soil physicochemical challenges include: depletion of nutrients due to intensive cultivation, pollution of soils by heavy metals, plastics and industrial wastes. Other physicochemical challenges include: soil erosion, especially on upper slopes where there is extensive water erosion leading to loss of top soil, nutrients & soil carbon. In lower slopes, the main problems are gullies and soil compaction as result of overgrazing, flooding, sedimentation and silting of rivers. Some socioeconomic challenges include: land ownership where land is owned by men but used by women who are not allowed to implement sustainable land management (SLM) practices like planting trees and construction of land management structures and fail to do farm planning. The biological challenges include: deforestation, biodiversity loss (e.g. species extinction, invasive species e.g. Lantana camara), and nutrient loss. There are a couple of cultural challenges such as resistance to adoption of SLM due to mindset and distribution of farm roles and responsibilities among men and women.
Climate change: Of late, there is a lot of variability in rainfall and temperature due to climate change, leading to severe weather events such as erratic rainfall, extended and severe droughts, floods and landslides
Due to the young soils (Andosols) still rich in soil nutrients in some parts of the area, organic farming can be explored at commercial scale. Besides the soil endowment, the area has diversity of terrain/ landscape which accords the opportunity for diversification of agricultural/ non-agricultural activities. Several farmers in the area have adopted the following sustainable land management technologies: terracing, water harvesting, good agronomic practices, trenches, contour bunds, grass bunds, agro forestry, woodlots and irrigation.
SLM approaches and strategies
To increase visibility and impact, SLM implementation is done using the landscape/ catchment approach. The strategies to increase adoption among farmers include: use of bye laws; mobilization of farmers by local leaders and community engagements and farmer learning and exposure visits
To reverse the trend of land degradation in the area, it is recommended that scaling up of proven SLM technologies and practices including; terraces, trenches, contour bunds, grass bunds, agro forestry, woodlots and good agronomic practices is intensified
District Local Government, Ministry of Water and Environment, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Agriculture Integrated Development and Kabarole Research and Resource Center (KRC)
Funding sources: The World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Government of Uganda
• SLM Specialist: Ms Josephine Nakanwagi, M.Sc. Soil Science and B.Sc. Agricultural Land Use and Management (Makerere University, Kampala)
Tel: +256 774208901
• Director of Research, Rwebitaba ZARDI: Robert Kajobe, PhD Tropical Bees and Pollination; M.Sc. Tropical Bees and Bees Keeping in Tropical Climate (Utrecht University, Netherlands) and B.Sc. Forestry (Makerere University, Kampala)
Tel: +256 483 427520 / 772590482
P.O. Box 96 Fort portal, Uganda