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Batwa Embark On Smart Agricultural Practices

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Life could be changing for the better for the Batwa community, who once survived on hunting from the forests they occupied back in time.

This minority tribe has now embarked on smart agricultural practices to boost production of food and cash crops.

Several Batwa communities in Rubanda and Kisoro districts are currently benefiting from a soil and water management project that has seen them learn new farming practices.

Beneficiaries speak out

Some beneficiaries said they are looking forward to increased food production and thus their farming practices will be desirable.

Steven Rumanzi, a resident of Biraara village in Bukimbiri sub-county, Kisoro district, said he was about to give up on farming since he kept losing crops every time it rained.

“For the past three years, I have been trying to grow vegetables, but the disappointment I have registered is real and alarming,” Rumanzi said.

He added: “Every time the rainy season set in, my crops would be washed away, so I had made up my mind to abandon farming”. Rumanzi hailed the new approach to farming, saying it is a dream come true.

To Vastina Ahinkamire, another resident said it is high time her fellow Batwa learned to appreciate those that have helped them in ensuring good resettlement.

“I am impressed with the good-willed people because they have taught us better farming practices and also offered us crops to grow for improved food production,”Ahinkamire said.

“Previously, we depended a lot on begging, but signs of great transformation, especially for us who are engage in farming, are beginning to show in our communities,” she added.

Poor land practices

Part of the new approaches to farming in the area is the use of contour trenches that help to control soil erosion since Kigezi is a hilly area. The project is being implemented by Nature Uganda, a conservation organisation.

Achilles Byaruhanga, the executive director, said during resettlement, most of the Batwa acquired small pieces of land, but due to poor land practices, they could not get good yields. This prompted them to consider encroaching on forests again for livelihoods.

He said they are currently training the Batwa on how they can produce food without thinking about the forest again and that this can only be achieved through better agricultural practices.

“With climate-smart agriculture, you can produce from a small piece of land. We are also planting napier grass along the contour trenches to control soil erosion. The grass can also be fed to animals that these people have received,” he noted.

Story filed by Job Namanya

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