- As broadcasters, what have women farmers been telling you about how climate change affects their farming practices? Give us concrete examples from your community.
Traditionally in my area Busoga, there used to be two planting seasons that is; February-March, then May- June farmers started harvesting crops. The second season could run from August-September and around November- December, farmers were harvesting for the second season. The women were comfortable as they were food secure, they could keep food in granaries for their families. As we talk now all this has changed; rains come late: For instance this is Mach and no rains yet for the farmers to plant or sow seed. It is still very hot in my area.
Women say they could plant early maturing crops like; beans, vegetables and onions on the onset of rains. They could have these for their families and used to cook good traditional food with vegetables! Things are not the same as rains can disappear even within the right season. Also some vegetable seeds cannot just be got from a neighbor as it used to be. Even vegetable seeds have to be bought and it is not easy to keep vegetable seeds, it is better to buy in order to reap. Otherwise nowadays some seeds cannot be kept for re-planting, it may not germinate since biotechnology has changed the natural ways of plant growth. This affects the yields and farmers have to resort to irrigation-a practice that is not widely practiced by most farmers! They lack the culture to irrigate and also lack the necessary equipment.
Also, in some areas of Busoga where they eat or plant finger millet, they could initially sow the millet during the month of January when it was very hot and the millet could stay in the soil till the rains could come at the right time which was around February. Due to climate change and changes in the millet varieties, some millet may not withstand the hot sun when sowed in January. So farmers at times have to wait for the first showers in March and then sow the seed. Imagine where the rains rain for a short while, then the millet yield will be too low or there will be no yield at all. So the women face a challenge of lack of food for their families.
Also, the farmers in my area especially the women say; they used to keep the best quality of seed while waiting for the season to plant. Things have since changed as we are supposed to be buying hybrid seed like Longe 7H and Longe 10H that are high yielding. It is expensive for us to buy seed every season since some of the seed is not even high yielding as they say. Some farmers including a woman in Bupadhengo-Kamuli district were heard to have said this!
Farmers in my area continue saying that these days almost every crop is recommended for spray as there are so many diseases and pests that attack them. They say long ago, they could just spray things like tomatoes, cabbages and may be dipping of cows once in a while. Today, they have to spray all the time due to rampant diseases. A woman who was cooking cassava without source for lunch was heard loudly saying; how will my husband and children eat this food without source, these days it is not easy to even sow dodo seeds (dodo is amaranths), it is not seen, it ca not even grow here! She said. So if you are a good practicing farmer, you have to spray these in order for you to reap something.
- Women often have a strong body of knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies…what are some examples from your community?
• Yes, the women in my area Busoga have already sensed that climate change is already here and affecting them. In mitigation, they say there are changes they notice like their land is no-longer productive as it used to be. Some of them have joined some farming group in Nawanyago-Nalimawa Zone in Kamuli district called Bandera group. Through this, they have trained and gained skills in conservation agriculture. They say they have leant how to add manure to their gardens using chicken and animal wastes which they use as fertilizer. They say this is aimed at sustaining their land to continue using it for food production. Out of 150 members, 110 members are women.
• On disaster reduction, in the Mountainous areas Elgon especially in the districts of Sironko and Bulambuli, The United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) through its Ecosystem Based Adaptation programme is supporting women groups like the Budadiri Girls Self Help group and local women farmers (although some men are benefiting too), to reduce disasters like land slides and flooding in the low lands which are common disasters here.
• The women and some men are trained to dig trenches in their gardens, planting trees and sustainable agriculture of minimum tillage. They are supported financially to engage in other income generating activities like; sowing, tailoring and Jelly making other than depending on Mt. Elgon natural resources to get firewood for selling and getting bamboo which they have since sold from the mountain. Bamboo is fiber like-used for source or vegetable. They have been growing in the mountain naturally. So to avoid depleting nature and also avoid landslides which result mainly from human activities like deforestation, they now keep busy in other activities from which they earn income while giving chance to nature. This in one way or the other has helped them to be able to live in harmony with nature as well as reduce risks or disasters.
• Also, they are trained to use the forest or natural resources sustainably without depleting them.