On August 8th 2023, a group of over seventy staff of Compassion International staff visited MbaZARDI to learn about farming as an income generating venture. The staff were interested in fruit orchard management, coffee and banana agronomy, goat keeping and aquaculture.
The perennial nature of coffee, fruits and banana crops picked their interest while goats were preferred for their high rate of reproduction, low labor and input demands. The team that was interested in aquaculture wanted to learn about the basics of starting an aquaculture farm.
Perennial crops present an opportunity for salary earners to create alternative incomes which do not require the costs and supervision involved with seasonal and annual crops. This is because once perennial crops are set up, they require maintenance but not new set up from time to time. Maintenance indeed does not require the supervision required of setting up.
Currently, MbaZARDI is promoting Kr1, 2, 4 and 5, 6, 7,8,9,10 series of coffee which are coffee wilt resistant, early maturing with high yield. The series are from the Robusta family and are produced in clonal form for propagation in lowland areas. South Western Uganda, the area where MbaZARDI is located and serves is mainly made up of lowlands. This means that highland coffee varieties like Arabica cannot grow in these areas.
Under banana, MbaZARDI is currently studying cooking varieties’ ability to produce juice and wine. This is because farmers lose revenues during the dry season due to increased ripening of bananas. This causes farmers to sell off their bananas at a loss to prevent total losses from ripening. The juice and wine alternative will help farmers add value to their bananas and produce products with a longer shelf life.
MbaZARDI is also promoting high yielding mangoes, citrus and avocado varieties in the zone. Mangos and citrus thrive in semiarid areas. This is a common weather pattern in South Western Uganda receiving an average rainfall of 900mm annually.