Participatory Modeling with Smallholder Farmers in Uganda

Most rural farmers in Uganda continually navigate decisions about whether and how to invest limited resources of labor, water, fertilizers, and other inputs in their farm-household systems to achieve optimal outcomes of food production and income. These choices are made more difficult by the increasing effects of climate change, which have brought an increased variability in the timing and intensity of seasonal rainy and dry seasons that are critical for establishing productive crops. Unlike in most industrialized countries, farmers in the global South have little access to decision-support tools–such as crop system models–that can simulate a variety of scenarios and help clarify the best farm management choices for a given set of climate and economic conditions.

In this project I configured an established process-based crop production model, the Agricultural Policy / Environmental Extender (APEX), for the small-scale cropping systems common in much of East Africa. I also developed a sample protocol for a participatory approach to configuring and implementing such models with rural communities of farmers in this region. This project was conducted for completion of my MSc in International Agricultural Development at UC Davis.


Focus group discussion with farmers in Serere District, Uganda. Photo: Abraham Salomon


◊  Research and Innovation in Food and Agriculture Fellowship, US AID and University of California, Davis

◊  Henry A. Jastro Research Award, University of California, Davis