Integrated Agriculture Aquaculture (IAAU)
Production of more food for a growing population, environmental conservation, and food security are the main challenges in the Ugandan agriculture sector. The industrialization of agriculture is negatively affecting the environment while still being unable to solve the problem of malnutrition. Agricultural systems, that enable sustainable production of food while minimizing environmental impacts through synergies that contrast with trade-offs in industrial farming practices are the best remedy to this complex.
Integrated Agriculture Aquaculture (IAAU) is an eco-friendly production system that comprises of three components: garden (V), pond (A), and livestock pen (C) which are carried out concurrently on the same piece of land. These are commonly referred to as VAC systems. They efficiently use all the available land, air, water, and solar energy resources while also effectively recycling the by-products, as well as waste. This provides a diversity of agricultural products that meet the complex nutritional demands of rural communities. Many studies have proved that IAA systems are very efficient and effective at ensuring food security as well as economic development of rural communities [Van Huong et al., 2018].
While there is a recorded rapid growth of aquaculture and broader development over the past decade, increasing unpredictability associated with climate change plus the greater volatility in food prices and food security is a big issue. Climate change is expected to bring particularly severe impacts to the Rwenzori districts. The aquaculture potential for this region is very high due to an abundance of freshwater resources and high rainfall levels. If the aquaculture systems are well managed, integrated with agriculture, and further developed, they will play an important part as an adaptation approach for enhancing social-eco-logical resilience to the unpredictable climate variation.
The establishment of the Institute of Integrated Agriculture Aquaculture at Mountains of the Moon University is a necessity due to the available resources of water, land, and skilled labor. This facility will be a sustainably managed IAA production facility that will also function as a training center for the students enrolled at the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, as well as a demonstration farm for the farmers of the Rwenzori districts. The IAAU will fulfill the core goals of the Mountains of the Moon University through its services and engagement of the community in all the processes of agriculture development and growth. It will be the first facility of its kind in the country and the world.
Need for this facility
While the process of writing the curriculum for a bachelor’s course in Integrated Water Management and Aquaculture is actively ongoing, the lack of a modern aquaculture research and education facility is a crippling factor in the accreditation of this course by the National Council of Higher Education. IAAU will be a fish production, crop husbandry, animal husbandry, research, and innovation facility. The students will be able to learn from a field-based setting in an environment that demonstrates how things are effectively run in the real world, outside of the classroom or laboratory. This will be possible through their direct interaction with an environment that reflects taught concepts rather than learning through indirect presentations such as textbooks or lectures. The IAAU will also primarily be an agricultural production facility set up in an economically efficient way that the rural farmers of the Rwenzori districts can easily learn from and adapt. The institution will be a source of employment, knowledge, and agricultural products to the neighboring communities. Since agriculture is one of the niches of Mountains of the Moon University, the presence of such a facility at the main campus is a defining feature to the purpose of the entire institution.
The main objective for establishing the IAAU is to set up a modern fully functionally integrated agriculture aquaculture production facility that will also be used for teaching, research, fish culture, animal husbandry, crop husbandry, and agriculture-aquaculture technology innovation at Saaka, Mountains of the Moon University.
Beneficiaries from the IAAU
The direct beneficiaries from the IAAU will be the students and staff of Mountains of the Moon University. This facility will be a field-based demonstration laboratory for the students enrolled at the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in courses namely; BSc Agriculture, BSc Horticulture, BSc Environmental Science, Bachelors Agribusiness, Master of Agribusiness Management, Msc Natural Resource Management, MSc Agroecology, and the proposed BSc in Integrated Water Management and Aquaculture. Students from other schools such as the School of Business Management will also benefit from the business models and data obtained from this facility. The indirect beneficiaries will include the community of Rwenzori who will obtain employment opportunities, the local farmers who will use the proposed facility as a demonstration garden, and the Ugandan agriculture sector which will receive the well-trained human resource. The IAAU will also be a food production facility, therefore it will directly contribute to the food security of the region.