NaFORRI with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is piloting new extension approaches to promote agroforestry tree canopy pruning among smallholder coffee agroforestry farmers in Manafwa and Namisindwa districts.
Tree canopy pruning in agroforestry is proven as an important on-farm management practice for controlling competition and increasing crop yields while prolonging the period of intercropping.
Tree canopy pruning has been selected because it is an important tree management option for reducing shading effects in intensive smallholder farming systems. While there have been commendable efforts to promote shaded coffee in the Mt. Elgon region, minimal effort has been put into the management of shade trees yet it affects crop yields.
Through the ACIAR-funded project ‘Enabling dialogue in agricultural extension for improved productivity of smallholder coffee agroforestry systems in the Mt. Elgon region of Uganda’, the Institute is integrating scientific and indigenous knowledge in promoting agroforestry tree canopy pruning.
A study conducted through the project in March 2023 revealed that many agroforestry farmers are hesitant to prune their trees due to lack of knowledge about the importance of pruning, fear of damaging their coffee and trees, and the high safety risks involved during pruning.
The project will deploy transformative extension approaches including bolstering knowledge exchange among farmers, researchers and extension agents, while making use of existing social networks. Alongside that, a criteria for reliably measuring and predicting adoption of tree canopy pruning among smallholder farmers will be developed. Through participatory learning, farmers were found to be knowledgeable about tree canopy pruning and suggested different tree canopy safety climbing and pruning styles that are code-named with local names. The styles are undergoing a co-appraisal phase by farmers and scientists. It’s anticipated that this co-appraisal phase, which gives farmers an extra voice will enable them to adopt the new styles.