Farmer selection of bio-physical diversity for agricultural land uses in dissected highland plateaus of Mbarara, Uganda
Tumuhairwe, J. K.
Zake, J. Y. K.
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Dissected Highland plateaus of Mbarara district are found in Isingiro and Rwampara counties. They are characterised by high altitude ranges of 1300 - 1800 m above sea level, with steeply sloping hills and ridges, V and U-shaped valleys and rapid increase in human populations. Such land resources are considered fragile as far as agricultural land use is concerned. Farmers in this area are capable of selecting and manipulating the biophysical conditions of land to meet their increasing needs for food and cash. This work, done in Bugamba, Mwizi, Birere and Kabingo subcounties of Mbarara district aimed at assessing biophysical diversity of the area and indigenous knowledge on utilising it for crop production. The participatory approaches of community workshops and walk transects were employed. Results indicated that communities are knowledgeable of and able to classify the variability in the landscape types of their area as Hilltops and Shoulders (Ebibungo). Backslopes (Obushozi/Obushumo), Footslopes (Hansi ye’ mishozi) Ravines (obuhanga), plains (empita) and Valleys (Empanga). They were able to match the soils with landscape types. Farmers were found to effectively select among these diversities and to utilise them appropriately for crop and livestock production. They grow most of the annual crops on hilltops, perennials (bananas and coffee) on footslopes and valleys and they keep most of the backslopes and plains for grazing livestock' However' where there is shortage of land because of increased population especially in Mwizi, farmers have attempted growing all the crop diversity and other land uses on all landscape types even on very steep (slope gradient 30 - 70%) backslopes. This enriches the agrodiversitv of the region