PrAEctiCe project is funded by the HORIZON Europe programme under Grant Agreement number 101084248

Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences Coordinates PrAEctiCe Project with a Focus On East Africa

Technical Coordinator, Talha Atiye at the Living Lab facility in Kajjansi, Uganda (Photo credit: Prof. Jan Hoinkis)

The PrAEctiCe project is being coordinated by the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HKA), led by Professor Jan Hoinkis. They are responsible for managing and coordinating the project’s overall scientific and technical aspects, as well as administrative and financial management, data management, risk, quality, ethics, and gender-related issues.

HKA, led by Professor Hoinkis, has a team comprising Markus Kuttelwascher for administration in cooperation with partner Steinbeis Europa Zentrum, Talha Atiye for technical coordination, and Sneha De and Duc Dinh Ngoc for technical support in research and development. They oversee the setup and commissioning of living labs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and report on their maintenance and optimisation.

  • Food security: Smallholder farmers are a significant contributor to food production in
    East Africa. Agroecological practices that emphasise diversified and locally adapted crops can increase food security by ensuring that various crops are available and resilient to changing conditions.
  • Sustainability: Agroecology is concerned with sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices. It helps smallholder farmers adopt these practices to promote the long-term health of the ground and conserve biodiversity by reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.
  • Climate change resilience: Crop diversification and ecological farming techniques can make smallholder farmers less vulnerable to extreme weather events like droughts or floods.
  • Soil health: Agroecological practices contribute to soil health through cover cropping (mulching), crop rotation and organic fertilisation. In recent years, biochar has played an increasing role in soil improvement.
  • Economic viability: By reducing dependence on external inputs like chemical fertilisers and pesticides, farmers can save on costs. In addition, focusing on local markets and diversified crops can create income-generating opportunities.
  • Social context: Agroecology uses local knowledge, traditions and community practices. Supporting smallholder farmers in transitioning to agroecological practices respects and values their cultural context and strengthens community ties and local resilience.
  • Biodiversity conservation: Agroecological techniques promote biodiversity by encouraging the cultivation of diverse crops and the integration of natural ecosystems into agricultural lands. This can preserve local plants and animal species, contributing to the ecosystem’s overall health.

Prof. Hoinkis explained that PrAEctiCe will use a holistic approach based on the water-energy-nutrient nexus in integrated aqua-agriculture (IAA) to support smallholder farmers in East Africa in their agroecological transition with novel agroecological indicators.

The project aims to demonstrate and validate agroecological practices in three living labs located in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The project manager explained that they use wastewater treated with membrane bioreactors for aquaculture and drip irrigation of crops. This helps to save fresh water, minimise water usage and ensure that water reaches the roots of the plants more effectively. Moreover, they use solar photovoltaics as a renewable energy source to drive wastewater treatment and pumps for aquaculture and irrigation. This approach helps overcome frequent power outages, saves costs, and reduces the overall environmental impact of agricultural practices. The effluent from fish tanks or ponds provides nutrients for growing crops, while the application of biochar contributes to long-term soil health.

PrAEctiCe aims to engage women and young people by providing them with capacity building and training. Their participation is crucial as they offer unique perspectives, experiences, and knowledge that can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of local contexts and challenges. In addition, their involvement can also lead to the development of innovative and context-specific solutions. “In numerous East African communities, women hold a pivotal role in agricultural activities and food production, including managing water and soil. The younger generation brings vitality, eagerness, and a willingness to embrace novel technologies and ideas. Their participation is crucial for successfully implementing agroecological practices that ensure long-term success,” Professor Hoinkis emphasised. In addition, engaging young people can promote agriculture as a viable and attractive career option, counter rural-urban migration, and revitalise rural communities by addressing youth unemployment.

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