Ugandan farmers encouraged to explore permaculture

By Gloria Nakiyimba
Ugandan farmers wishing to increase productivity on the farm have been advised to start practicing Perma culture and make use of nature to improve yields.
At The Bec Hellouin Organic farm in Normandy north of France, farmers here use science and knowledge of the soils to ensure maximum production on the farms.
The farm sitting on 20 hectares of land was started by Perrine Herver Gruyer and her husband Charles Herver Gruyer in 2006.
“Perm culture is a new way or set of rules that determines an organization of things that makes most of the natural cycle” the Herver- Gruyers explained
The couple grow more than 80 varieties of fruits, vegetables,  in their garden in  a manner that ensures compliance with and protection of the environment.  Only organic fertilizers are used on the farm.
Thus the farm produces only organic foods without any chemicals that can harm the environment. The food, fruits and vegetables are usually bought by people who enjoy organic food for health linked benefits.
The major clients are cancer patients and pregnant women who usually go to the farm or place orders for the products.
Perrine says their farm heavily relies on the trees as source of nutrients in addition to having good knowledge of the type of soils.  This she says ensures that proper vegetables and fruits are grown on the right soils with the required nutrients.
12 hectares of land were set aside for growing trees which give a shade for some plants, act as wind breakers on the farm and provide nutrients for the plants.
The farms   exploit  wild vegetation   to ensure that they get better yields at the end of the day and work on the upper layer of the ground about  5 centimeters deep in the ground and not further than that
“Rely on the trees and rely on whatever wild vegetation can give you.  You have got extremely interesting wild trees and wild plants that can be used for a lot of things as organic matter, as food for the human beings or for the animals.  Those plants   usually they are going to collect all the nutrients from the soil and give them to the other plants nearby” Perrine   told a team of Ugandan journalists that visited the farm.
They can shred the trees and leaves that are decomposed to make manure.
According to Perrine, farmers wishing to practice Permaculture   must   start on small scale as to  be able to monitor progress and expand later on.
“Do it small, the smaller it is the better it is because you can observe and understand better “ she says.
For the case of Ugandan farmers Perrin says they should make use of domestic animals on their farms as they are very useful in the eco-system under the condition that they are considered as workers.
She keeps hens on a free range basis that she says feed on pastes like snails and ants that would attack crops but at the same time the chicken droppings are used as fertilizers.
Animals such as cows can also be used as workers on the farm.
“Use domestic animals not only as food but also as workers on the ecosystem.  Don’t let them go where they want, eat all the trees, eat all the plants but you have to watch them. Otherwise they shall be errant and you are not going to use whatever they give you”
The animals according to Perrin can give a farmer a lot of manure that can be used to fertilize the soil instead of chemical based fertilizers that can be harmful to the ecosystem.
At the Bec Hellouin organic farm mixed farming is the order of the day.  Various fruits such as vines, tomatoes, apples, oranges, cherries, are grown.  Some of the vegetables grown on the farm are peas, celery, beat root, beans, carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, onions, egg plants, pepper, pumpkins and radish among others.
Numerous research projects are done on the farm to explore natural and efficient agricultural practices that contribute to regenerating the biosphere.
The farm also offers training in perma culture, market gardening, for professional and private individuals.