Over 50 million people in the East African region depend on highland bananas for their food and/or income. In the hilly highlands of South-west Uganda, extensive cattle grazing and cultivation of finger millet has been largely replaced by intensively managed banana plantations in the past decades. With synthetic fertilizers still largely unused in the area, farmers rely on organic resources to manage soil fertility on their plantations. Banana farmers use crop residues (from banana fields and other crop fields), grass cuttings (from hillsides) and swamp grass (from wetlands in the region) as mulches on their plantations. To manage soil fertility, some banana farmers import truckloads of manure from cattle-dominated areas in neighbouring districts. Thus, nutrient flows at several spatial scales (field, farm, landscape) play an important role in the management of banana plantations in SW Uganda. However, the quantity, quality and consequences of these nutrient flows are largely unknown, as well as the characteristics of the cattle production system where the manure is coming from. Another knowledge gap revolves around the feasibility of the current manure and mulch use: could there potentially be enough mulch and manure to supply the banana systems, or are other sources of inputs necessary?
This thesis is carried out in the context of the Banana Agronomy project (http://www.banagron.org/), in collaboration with IITA Uganda.
Type of work
Several methods can be applied, such as sampling and measurement of organic inputs, banana yield estimations, household surveys and group discussions
Students with an interest in interdisciplinary work and systems analysis. Students need to have passed one of the prerequisite courses PPS30806 (Analysing Sustainability of Farming Systems) and PPS30306(QUALUS).
Location and period
This thesis can start any time, locations are Wageningen and Uganda
Harmen den Braber, Katrien Descheemaeker, Gerrie van de Ven.