After working for 28 years as a climate change specialist, Edward Paul Munnaba quit to help locals in Busoga and Buganda fight poverty through mindset change and enterprise selection.
Munnaba who is the minister of general duties in Busoga kingdom has been working with African Partnership of Collusion on Climate Change.
Munnaba was inspired to eradicate poverty which has highly taken up the region through using the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 as his main focus.
He says that Goal 13 was his centre of attention which prioritises food security and production, terrestrial and wetland ecosystems, fresh water resources, human health with key economic sectors and services.
Starting up Edward’s Hamlet Farm
Munnaba says in 2018 after his retirement, he started on a small scale with 0ne acre of land in Bufula A village in Nawagoma parish in Budondo sub-county by planting a nursery bed of fruit trees he would give out freely to farmer groups interested in fighting poverty
Edward stands for ‘education, water, agriculture, research, development and sports.
He noted that with time he managed to secure 12 acres of land and would give out 100,00 0 fruit seedlings per year.
“My target was to implement what I have learnt and also mitigate the environment and also help improve food security. So far for the years I have been active we have managed to give out 800,000 fruit seedlings to small-scale farmer groups, “he said.
He identified the trees as pawpaws, jack fruit, tangerine, cocoa, mangoes and oranges among others.
He said after expanding, he managed to start up a model farm Edwards hamlet model where he has managed to plant nine acres of coffee, 600 jack fruit trees, 120 mango trees, four acres of bananas, maintain a nursery bed of 100,000
He added that other farm inputs include 12 beehives boxes, fast-growing foods like cabbages, tomatoes and onions.
Working with small farmer groups and other partners
He said that for his four years in agricultural practice, he has so far managed to work with 502 small-scale farmer groups and 30,000 farmers with an objective of mindset change towards agriculture.
“People think that agriculture is for poor people, prisoners, uneducated which has caused poverty in Busoga region, but however taking them through lessons on mindset change has helped them come to learn that 90% of the population depends on agriculture which they have now embraced as a source of income and wealth,” he noted.
Munnaba says that they also train the farmers on smart agriculture practices of regenerating agriculture which minimizes carbon emissions.
He explained that this has helped farmers turn away from the rude conventional methods of farming which depilate the ecosystem to the traditional methods of farming which involve carbon retention like mulching which is good for climate change.
He explained that at the farm, they have also ventured into enterprise selection which has helped most of them turn to growing fast-growing food crops for both home consumption and commercial sale.
On this, he challenged mainly youths to stop selling off their inheritance properties like land to buy bodabodas and instead get the basics on how to select and start-up enterprises on small scale.
However, he cautioned small-scale farmers to desist from venturing into sugarcane planting which has caused poverty but instead turn to traditional farming in order to fight poverty.
He added that they are also working with Jinja district agriculture and production department to help empower youths with skills to fight poverty, research on various empowerment projects and sports.
He said they are working with the Uganda Christian University under the facility of environment and agriculture and also Wairaka College in Jinja were students come and learn core skills.
Munnaba says that the farm has been turned into a centre of networking and excellence.
He says the centre attracts farmers from different districts of Busoga and the surrounding to exchange ideas and also learn how to use land, especially those staying in urban centres.
He noted that so far he receives on average 60 farmers from Buikwe, Iganga, Jinja district and city, Kamuli, Luuka and Buyende.
He said the major challenge was changing weather partners yet all seasons depend on rain and sun. He explained the only solution is to set up water irrigation schemes.
He noted that due to the harsh climate, they have so far t have dug two shallow wells to help in irrigation but lack water pumps and solar pumps to help water the farm.
He noted that currently, the scheme lacks one yet they have decided to turn to regenerative agriculture which works under five conditions of reviving land fertility, water retention through mulching, regenerative agriculture which is integrated with nature-based solutions like using Agrology thus planting of trees and concentrate on carbon generation and retention which is underground.
Other factors he noted include a lack of accommodation facilities for farmers under training.
He noted that through the presidential programme on poverty alleviation, the model farm has been allocated six districts from Busoga region which includes Jinja city and district, Luuka, Kamuli, Buyende and Kalirmers
“The farm which has four blocks on 12 acres was given a condition by the government to have a hostel for learners,” he said.
Munnaba says his target is to Zero to a centre of excellence since the National Agricultural Show which is normally held once a year lasts for only five days yet the farm is a daily existence where farmers can attain skills in their own time frame.
He noted that he is also aiming at helping farmers mitigate climate change since farmers are now being encouraged to revive the traditional farming methods which are eco-friendly and address sustainable development demonstrations.
He says as they wait on government support, they plan to construct a 100-bed hostel to accommodate visiting farmers, going solar to support the cause of using clean energy and support a healthy conducive environment.