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Business case on innovative resilience-enhancing technologies and practices in African-grown staple grains and horticultural products in cross-border markets of IGAD Cluster 1 (Karamoja Cluster)


The main farming systems in Karamoja Cluster incorporate mixed farming; agro-pastoral farming; highland perennial farming; highland mixed farming and pastoral farming; fish-based farming; irrigated farming; sparse arid pastoralism and oases farming and urban and peri-urban farming systems. In terms of increasing income and resilience at household and community levels, there are arguments that pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods are more viable in Karamoja than crop farming even in bad years. In fact, a 2014 FAO household economy baseline assessment on livelihood profiles in the Karamoja region of Uganda (in the Southeastern Maize Cattle Zone and Amudat district specifically), indicated households that rely on livestock as a major livelihood were found to have coped better to the effects of dry spells experienced than those that relied predominantly on crop production.

These arguments perhaps explain, why for a long time, crop production has been considered unviable in the Cluster owing to ecological and social-cultural reasons. But today, there is evidence that where the right conditions prevail, farmers (of which 60-80 percent are smallholders) have benefited from crop agriculture via a range of farming technologies. Maize, sorghum, and teff, sesame, sunflower, sugarcane, mangoes, oranges are the main food and cash crops.

Owing to interventions of government and development organisations to promote food and nutrition security, grain production and trade has increased in the last 10 years. However, these gains have been eroded by the rapidly snowballing population in areas of production, changing consumption patterns, and augmented regional and international demand. Grain trade liberalisation has increased intraregional trade flows; while increased local and regional demand in grains has reinvigorated large-scale production of key grains including maize, beans and sorghum.

This factsheet makes a business case for investing in trade of African-grown staple grains and horticultural products in cross-border markets of IGAD Cluster 1 (Karamoja Cluster). The findings are a result of observations, consultative meetings and key informant interviews, focused group discussions as well as field observations conducted in Karamoja Cluster (Karamoja region in Uganda, Turkana and West Pokot counties in Kenya) and from secondary data about South Omo in Ethiopia. They indicate that farmers are applying a number of technologies at both production and productivity; and post-harvest management and commercialisation levels, which can be scaled up for impact.

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