LUSU AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT

LET US SAVE UGANDA (LUSU) Department of Agriculture is concerned with sustainable agricultural activities in Uganda. Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda and has played a key role in the development of human civilization even elsewhere in the world. Until the industrial revolution, the vast majority of the human population labored in agriculture. Therefore the development of agricultural techniques has steadily increased agricultural productivity in some areas around the world but developing countries have been left behind and are faced with terrible famine.

According to LUSU, Agriculture is the production of food and goods through farming and forestry. Agriculture is the key development that led to the rise of human civilization, with the husbandry of domesticated animals and plants such as crops creating food surpluses that enabled the development of more densely populated and stratified societies of the world.

LUSU Department of Agriculture deals with the following projects under Agriculture Department: Apiculture, Crop Farming, Agroforestry, Aquaculture, among other enterprises. LUSU is very much concerned with the increased reduction of soil fertility that has and is leading people to encroach fragile ecosystems such as wetlands and forests culminating into the loss of many life forms inhabiting such ecosystems. Thus the Agriculture Department of LUSU targets to raise all it can and ensure that the soils in Uganda are fertile and there is sustainable agriculture in the country by the year 2050 and agriculture is promoted in harmony with the environment and natural resources.

As a way to promote Sustainable Agriculture, LUSU Department of Agriculture integrates three main goals in its agriculture related projects: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities that will be seen and found as the way to live on and survive. These goals have been considered and looked at from the vantage point of the farmer or the consumer by the Organisation for emphasis. Sustainable agriculture here in LUSU refers to agricultural production that can be maintained without harming the environment and natural resources.

LUSU Department of Agriculture ensures that the ability of a farm to produce fertile soil for crops and produce along with livestock and fish from managed ponds, without causing severe or irreversible damage to ecosystem health is met. LUSU Department of Agriculture considers two key issues to achieve this namely: biophysical (the long-term effects of various practices on soil properties and processes essential for crop productivity) and socio-economic (the long-term ability of farmers to obtain inputs and manage resources such as labor).

The physical aspects of sustainability are partly understood by communities and the service providers of agricultural programs but LUSU continues to emphasize them for better absorption of all stakeholders. These are the practices that can cause long-term damage to soil and they include excessive tillage (leading to erosion) and irrigation without adequate drainage (leading to salinization). Multiple experiments will always be carried out by LUSU Research team and will always provide the best data on how various practices affect soil properties essential to sustainability.

Although air and sunlight are available everywhere in Uganda, crops also depend on soil nutrients and the availability of water. When farmers grow and harvest crops, they remove some of these nutrients from the soil and can either burn or take them home for searching their houses, shelter for their animals and to mulch their banana plantations. Without replenishment, land suffers from nutrient depletion and becomes either unusable or suffers from reduced yields that have persistently lead to intensive famine in most areas of Uganda especially the Northern and Eastern parts of the country. Sustainable agriculture therefore depends on replenishing the soil while minimizing the use of non-renewable resources, such as natural gas (used in converting atmospheric nitrogen into synthetic fertilizer), or mineral ores (e.g., phosphate). Possible sources of nitrogen that would, in principle, be available indefinitely in Uganda, include:

  • Recycling crop waste and livestock or treated human manure
  • Growing legume crops and forages such as peanuts or alfalfa that form symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia
  • Industrial production of nitrogen by the Haber Process uses hydrogen, which is currently derived from natural gas, (but this hydrogen could instead be made by electrolysis of water using electricity (perhaps from solar cells or windmills) or
  • Genetically engineering (non-legume) crops to form nitrogen-fixing symbioses or fix nitrogen without microbial symbionts.