A watershed agro ecological project has been hatched in Dodoma targeting to empower more than 400 peasants in Kongwa District against effects of climate change.
The initiative also works to restore soil fertility through the application environment friendly biological inputs.
Terrace farming to avert soil erosion and natural regeneration management backed with tree planting around farms are some of the undertakings local farmers get exposed to through the project.
Ashura Dulazi, a researcher from the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute of Makutupora explains that they have started impacting knowledge from grassroots.
She reveals that pupils and students from at least two primary schools, and two secondary schools have also been introduced to farming skills.
It was observed that Kongwa district has potential to become the country’s food basket, but local farmers experience serious cases of soil erosion due to irresponsible cultivation methods.
Human activities such as over grazing, deforestation and poor farming methods have been taking toll on crop production in many parts of Dodoma Region.
The new project thus teaches farmers responsible land cultivation and planting methods to improve their yields and ensure that agricultural practices are conducted with environment consideration at heart.
The initiative is known as ‘Enabling a Resilient and Prosperous Community through Participatory Agro-ecological Practices in Semi- Arid regions of Central zone.’
It is implemented by the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), LEAD Foundation and the International Crops Research Institute of the Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), with support from Biovision Foundation.
“Students have been fast in grasping the knowledge such that they have been able to establish exemplary farms at their institutions,” says Ms Dulazi.
She adds that the school farms serve as technology hubs from which members of the local communities can learn responsible methods of tilling land and planting crops.
Among the beneficiary institutions include Visumi Primary School, Moleti Secondary School, Laikala ‘A’ and Laikala ‘B’ Secondary schools.
On the other hand the three- Bio vision Watershed Agro ecological Projects are benefiting smallholder farmers in the eight villages, including Sagara ‘A’, Sagara ‘B’, Laikala ‘A’, Laikala ‘B’, Mlali, Nghumbi, Lengaji and Moleti.
Elirehema Swai, is the Coordinator for Research and Innovation at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute’s Makutupora Centre, who points out that a total of 230 farmers have successfully managed to introduce terracing onto their farms.
Peter Ngowi, a senior scientific officer (Natural Research Management) at the International Crops Research Institute of the Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) says their role is ensuring availability of the drought resistant seed varieties.
One of the local farmers, Winnie Saigodi, from Moleti village says she now applies intercropping method of cultivation at her farm which has the Macia Variety of Sorghum and Mali Pigeon Peas.