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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Climate Smart Coffee and Banana Set to Boost East African Farmers' Income

Ugandan farmers are increasingly inter-planting coffee, the country's primary export, and banana, a staple food, as a way of coping with the effects of climate change. In densely populated Elgon and Rwenzori Mountains, the two crops have been planted together on smallholder farms despite recommendations under the colonial agricultural extension system to separate these in Central and Western Uganda where land was believed to be plentiful. With growing population pressure and climate change, this is no longer possible. But studies by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partner organizations show that a Ugandan farmer gets 50 per cent more income from inter cropping coffee and banana than from growing either crop alone. Conducted in over 30 districts of Uganda, the study showed that coffee yield remained the same when intercropped with bananas and the farmers gained additional income from the banana. According to Piet Van Asten, a Systems Agronomist with IITA in Kampala, the Arabica coffee growing region around Mt. Elgon, had annual returns per hectare averaging 4,441 dollars for coffee and banana grown together, compared to 1,728 and 2,364 dollars for mono cropped banana and coffee, respectively. In the Robusta-growing areas in South and Southwest Uganda, annual returns per intercropped hectare averaged 1,827 dollars, compared to up to 1,286 dollars for mono cropped banana and coffee.

Source: All Africa