South Western Uganda’s agroecological zone (SWAEZ) is a major banana-producing region. Diets in the region are based on the starchy cooking banana (“matooke” – the major staple food for much of Uganda) and are poor in protein and micronutrients. HIV-AIDS affected households are particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficits, as their labor is limited and their nutritional needs are high. Although chickpea is not currently widely grown in Uganda, it has tremendous potential to enhance nutrition and livelihoods.Chickpea is the third most important food legume in the world, grown on 11 million ha with 9 million tons produced annually. The crop remains underutilized in sub Saharan Africa, but production has steadily increased since 1970. Chickpea is a versatile edible legume that can be eaten in many forms (leaves, grains, etc.) and bolster diets due to its high levels of proteins, micronutrients and carbohydrates. Chickpea grows well under the semi-arid conditions that prevail in much of E/HAf, and shows desirable traits such as drought tolerance, high seed productivity, nitrogen fixation, and market demand.MBAZARDI researchers have identified three high yielding chickpea varieties through on-station evaluation trials. This project proposes to acquire other improved varieties and work with participating farmer groups to evaluate the varieties for their agronomic performance when integrated with banana and maize production, the priority crops in the project areas.
Increased production of chickpea in SWAEZIdentification and promotion of better performing chickpea varieties, appropriate planting time and integrated pest management systemsDetermine the impact of chickpea production on soil fertilityDevelop and promote alternative chickpea products for increased household utilization of chickpeaA baseline survey will provide detailed information on livelihood and nutrition status of the households in the study area, and the status of chickpea production, consumption and utilization. The status of soil nutrition will also be establishedPest and crop management methods will be identified and promotedImproved cropping systems for chickpea production will be determined and promoted for adoption in the SWAEZ using participatory methodsChickpea production and utilization will be increased, especially among HIV/AIDS affected households. This will improve nutrition level, contributing to better health and productivityResearch and production capacity will be increased. Two M.Sc. students will play key roles in the research while improving their own knowledge and experience. Farmers and other key stakeholders will also receive practical training to increase their technical knowledge and capabilities in areas such as crop production, processing, storage, packaging and marketing. In addition, farmer groups will receive help in developing group dynamics and collective action.