Goal: to demonstrate (organic) farming techniques to local farmers and facilitate training on subjects related to environmental conservation, organic farming and other sustainable agricultural issues.
At the demonstration farm near the National Park Rwenzori Mountains, many seedlings of a variety of trees are grown. The tree seedlings are sold at the start of the two wet seasons to organisations and individuals. This is part of the climate change and reforestation program of NECF. Especially timber tree seedlings are sold well. They are planted besides the field of farmers and on the mountain slopes to prevent erosion and improve soil fertility. After more than 20 years the trees will be ready to cut down for wood, so in the mean time, the environment can benefit from these trees.
Furthermore, new species of trees, developed by the governmental institutes are tested for production in practical circumstances. Coffee, cacao and other plants are grown and production is monitored. The demonstration farm only has 1,5 hectares, but due to the tree nursery a large variety of trees are grown. Daily an average of 400 seeds are planted in portable bags. Most seedlings are nursed for a few months and sold, however, some need more time to grow.
Farmers visit the demonstration farm for training and to see the new varieties of plants in practice. In 2011, seven trainings have been undertaken to strengthen farmers’ capacities:
1. Farming as a business
2. Improved feed and productivity
3. The value of organic farming
5. Bulking and market bargaining power
6. Feeding goats and protection against diseases
7. Formation of farmer field schools
The trainings are attended by a varying number of farmers, from 40 up to 200. NECF is planning to build a training facility at the demonstration farm.
My advice for this farm was to focus on one or two activities as main issues. Improving quality and giving more structure to the demonstration farm is necessary to increase profits and show results. In the near future, the tree nursery can grow into an efficient tool for local farmers to get (local and high productive) seedlings, for example.