Darius Kamusime stands proudly on his plot of land in the west of Uganda. Behind him there are banana plants, coffee trees and many other indigenous species providing a leafy canopy and a source of income for his family. However three years ago his farm was very different.
In 2012 Darius had burnt everything on the land to the ground in a process called ‘slash and burn’ (the photo below still shows some blackened stumps). This approach is still popular among farmers who believe they need to completely clear their land in order to farm it. Unfortunately this process depletes the soil and the natural shade, fertiliser and water stabilisation that trees provide. Without these crucial trees the crops are more likely to fail. Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, which Darius was introduced to in 2012, promotes managing a range of trees on plots, from existing stumps, roots or seeds in the soil, in order to provide the much needed biodiversity, shade, moisture retention and soil stabilisation that trees provide. Furthermore the indigenous trees which are now growing from Darius’s management are producing medicine and fruit that his family and community can access.
Before he could not grow coffee, a highly profitable crop, as there was not enough shade. Now there are many trees growing under the shady canopy of the tall indigenous trees and he is able to make an income selling coffee and bananas at the market.
Darius’s son was able to grow corn on the land, something which was failing before FMNR, and with the profits from selling the corn he was able to afford new shoes. Darius himself has also been able to sell firewood and fencing poles made from the branches of indigenous trees, which sell for an average of 2000 Ugandan Shillings or USD .60c each, a significant amount for his family.
Darius’s farm is even a learning site for his fellow community members to come learn the practice of FMNR and to see the, literal, fruits of his labour. When I asked Darius about how the land is now he says simply ‘this place has become as it was’.
Learn more about other FMNR projects and the importance of environmental restoration for communities, like Darius’ here