Lakeside vegetable irrigation with small engine pumps
Kabos farmers test new irrigation equipment designed and constructed by project interns from Busitema University’s agricultural mechanization and irrigation engineering programs.
Kabos is farther from major urban centers than most vegetable growing sites, and vegetable traders do not often visit the area. This has made vegetable production an untested enterprise for farmers around Kabos. The group has been among the first to try commercial vegetable production, and is gradually gaining knowledge on production and marketing methods. Large local weekly markets are also venues for selling produce.
The group mainly specializes in onion and tomato, with some eggplant, and cabbage production. They use a small engine pump to bring water from the lake to various irrigation systems, including fixed impact sprinklers, rain gun, and micro furrows / micro-basins. The site has hosted activities with students from Busitema University to design and test new methods for bringing water from the lake into the irrigated plots.
The members are mainly youth aged between 16 and 25, with some older members as well.
Kabos is located in a part of Teso subregion bordering Lake Kyoga. In most areas around the lake fishing has traditionally been a major economic activity, but is now greatly diminished due to lower fish stocks in the lake. A number of staple crops are widely produced, especially cassava, sorghum, millet, maize, and sweet potato. Common grain legumes include cowpeas, green gram, and ground nut.
Horticulture is not common in the area, except for some plots of oranges. Commercial vegetable production is not widespread, though some farmers have small plots for local sales or consumption.
The area is mainly a low relief valley-ridge system, with scattered large rock outcrops. Upland soils in the area tend to be sandy loams to loam, and lakeshore soils tend to be sandy loam to clay loam. Lakeshore soils are far more productive than upland soils, with higher soil organic matter and nutrient status.
Site and Community Characteristics
The Farmers and Community
Approximately 16 members in the Amorata Development Association horticulture irrigation group
Communal irrigation plot raises money for the group’s activities
Landscape and Water
Site is located less than 100 meters from the shore of Lake Kyoga, a large shallow inland lake that provides water for irrigation
A mildly undulating plain with occasional rock outcrops and forested hills characterizes the region; the plain slopes gently (~1%) near the lakeshore
Approximately 1.25 hectares under sprinkler irrigation
Crops Grown Here
Rainfed cassava, sorghum, maize, groundnut, millet, greengram, amaranth, and sweet potato
Sprinkler irrigated onion, tomato, and eggplant
Typical Farming Methods
Tillage: ox-drawn moldboard plow, hand hoe
Chemical application: Knapsack sprayer
Weeding: Large and small hand hoe
Planting: Hand hoe, ox-drawn logs for broadcasting seed
Innovations for irrigated horticulture in Kabos
Hand-move raingun system
Student and farmer collaboration and capacity-building
Irrigation equipment design
Busitema University interns developed designs and constructed prototypes for several new pieces of equipment to address problems and issues faced by the farmers at Kabos. Students consulted and collaborated with farmers at every step, from problem definition, to initial design, to construction, testing, and refinement. Students were tasked with designing solutions that were not only functional, but also affordable for a typical farmer and made from materials available in the local area. Designs included:
a long-handled basket for quickly clearing aquatic weeds from the surface of the lake at the intake of the irrigation pump
a simple sprinkler made from a section of rigid pipe, which can be moved over the field surface using two bicycle wheels (pictured above)