by Magdalena Nertinger (MSc Student, University of Hohenheim)
Work Package (WP) 4 of the EaTSANE project aims at increasing the impact of the overall project by integrating results and experiences from the other WPs in policy dialogue and training and communication strategies. One activity of WP4 is studying drivers and constraints, and creating an enabling environment for farmer innovation towards more diverse practices for farming and nutrition. A study team, supported by students from the University of Hohenheim, Makerere University and Egerton University, went to Kapchorwa District, Uganda and Teso-South Sub-country, Kenya for a two-week field research and stakeholder workshops.
I participated in this study as part of my Master Program Organic Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Hohenheim. Together with Judith Aliso, a student from Makerere University, we held four Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with farmers in four villages in Kapchorwa, Uganda that participate in the EatSANE project and conducted further individual interviews. At the same time, the other group of our study team carried out a study based on the same research approach in Teso South, Kenya. To conclude our fieldwork, we organized stakeholder workshops in which we discussed our findings.
Coming from cold winter weather in Germany, arriving in Uganda was a pleasure and especially going to Kapchorwa because it has a very pleasant climate during this season. During our research work, we visited farmers in the four villages that work with the EatSANE project through jointly managed experimental plots, farmer trainings, TIPs sessions, and value chain platforms. The villages are located in the lower, mid-upper and upper belt of Kapchorwa District, which means in different altitude levels. The landscape around there is stunning, especially in the higher altitude.
I experienced the people in Kapchorwa as incredibly friendly and welcoming. During our FGDs in the villages, people were very dedicated to telling us about the innovations and new practices that they implemented and seemed confident with the whole EaTSANE project. Farmers were happy to show us their fields and explain to us in detail what they are doing and even invited us for lunch and to join them in church on Sunday. Meeting the farmers in their home villages, understanding their challenges and seeing their commitment towards the project, but also making a change within their lives was a very valuable experience for me.
Studying the relationships with other actors in the food system through stakeholder mapping showed that farmers’ practices for nutrition and farming are influenced by a wide range of stakeholders. To understand these relationships and additional linkages better, we interviewed also some of the stakeholders that we identified in our discussions with the farmer groups. These people that partly never heard about EaTSANE before were very open-minded, answered our questions with commitment and were very supportive to engage with EaTSANE in the future.
Overall, I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in the EaTSANE project, to get in touch with these farmers that live within the Mount Elgon region and to work in an international study team.