Farmers in Dodoma seem to be ready to change their agricultural practices into an environmentally friendly form of crop cultivation only if the state will equip them with basic knowledge.
Speaking in Kongwa District, the local crop growers appealed to the government to train extension officers on agroecology so that they could assist farmers across the country to adopt new methods of crop production.
Agroecology is seen to be an environmentally friendly crop production method to offset effects of global warming and climate change that are currently a global concern.
Farmers in Dodoma say agroecology practices have so far proved to be effective in helping farmers to overcome severe effects of climate change.
Farmers who have so far benefitted from agroecology methods in Kongwa hailed the three-year watershed agro ecological project known as ‘Enabling a Resilient and Prosperous Community Through Participatory Agro-ecological Practices in Semi- Arid regions of Central zone.’
Through the project, farmers say they have managed to record bumper harvests during the 2021-2022 farming season despite unpredictable rains and related drought spells.
“Kongwa is a semi-arid area, which means it used to be difficult to get good harvests in the past, but with the new agro-ecology methods we now get bumper harvests,” revealed Hilda Madeje, one of the farmers who has benefited from the initiative.
Another farmer, Bilha Mtembezi, adds that the introduction of improved kernels such as drought and disease resistant seeds has been helpful for them to produce more from farms.
“Before the project most farmers here relied on low-yield landrace seed varieties. But these produced poor yields, but with the introduction of improved seeds, harvests have improved,” pointed out Mtembezi.
On her part, Pendo Magomba lauded the initiative to train farmers through the Technology Hub Plot (THP) referred to as Shamba Darasa in Swahili, as referral sites to impact new agricultural methods and skills.
“We have been taught to apply terrace farming to prevent landslides and soil erosion brought about by floods, which used to be big problems in the past,” she said.
“I practice inter-cropping at my farm, growing sorghum (Macia variety), and pigeon peas and maize, with such interdependency in crop nutrients, I am recording high yields,” she said.
Elirehema Swai is the Coordinator for Research and Innovation at the Makutupora Centre for Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI).
Swai revealed that the project aims at improving agricultural productivity and landscape scale natural resource management through participatory planning, diagnosis and implementation of integrated watershed management.
“The project also focuses on promotion of use of innovative and agro ecological based agricultural practices that enhance sustainability and household resilience,” he stated.
With collaborative and participatory research work by TARI, the International Crops Research Institute of the Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the University of Dodoma (UDOM) and Kongwa district council under, the robust initiatives have managed to provide farmers with improved, but drought tolerant varieties of key economic cash crops that flourishes well in semi-arid agro ecologies of Kongwa.Elirehema Swai
The project is being implemented jointly by three partners, including TARI, LEAD Foundation, and ICRISAT with financial support from the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development of Switzerland.
Related: Tanzania to study Landrace seeds