What are the options to irrigate fields in drought areas? How can soil erosion be stopped? What is the most efficient way to use water? These were the questions discussed by 18 Kolping delegates from South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda at a training session in mid-February hosted by KOLPING Uganda in Kampala.
Two agricultural engineers from Makerere University in Kampala and from the Ministry of Agriculture gave the participants expert information on irrigation systems, soil conditions and legal issues. After the two-day workshop, the participants were able to see in practice the various irrigation systems, such as water sprinklers or drip irrigation, on the university’s trial fields.
As all participants of the workshop are affected by climate change and its impact in their countries, they were able to discuss and collect many ideas that will soon be applied in their project work on the ground. Participants from South Africa, for example, would like to cooperate more closely with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in the future. In addition, more water workshops shall be offered for smallholder farmers. After all, it is not just about irrigating the fields. It is important to know the water requirements of each plant, depending on its species, size and on the season, says Ndamase Sinegugu, summarizing what has been learned. First of all, however, soil conditions have to be measured (moisture, pH value). Another important question is: How does the water get to the field? Is the field located on a hill, do pumps have to be used to transport the water through the hose? “The training must be tailored to the needs of the farmers.“
Following this training session, the two delegates from South Africa travelled with their Rwandan colleague to Kigali to hear more about the long-running and tried-and-tested agricultural projects there. First, the guests learned in theory interesting facts about the production of organic fertilizer and soil fertility strategies. This was followed by a visit of the South African guests to a Kolping Family where they helped produce fertilizer “Among the trees were piles of green leaves, dry leaves, water containers, urine containers, bags of ashes, finished compost, dug-up soil and five thick sticks. We started chopping the leaves into small pieces,” Ndamase Sinegugu reports. The guests were taught how to make organic compost themselves and at the end the wooden stick was put into the compost heap to measure the temperature a few days later. On the second day, the guests travelled to Butete to inspect the community fields where the 116 members grow Irish potatoes. Parts of the harvest are made into seed to have a stock for the next sowing.
This example shows how valuable the global Kolping community is. The organizational structures and international networking allow members to exchange ideas, receive further training and empowerment: experience and know-how are passed on and adapted in the national associations to the individual needs of Kolping Families. This way, help for self-help is also possible here and once again Kolping shows what it is able to accomplish.