Tanzania Times
The Eastern Africa News Network

Tanzania embarks on Agro-Ecology to Ensure Sustainable food systems

POLICY Forum in cooperation with Action Aid Tanzania are hatching  initiatives aimed at encouraging the ministry of agriculture to fully implement  policies that promote agroecology for sustainable and environment friendly food systems in the country.

So far, Tanzania has developed friendly guidelines to help promote agroecology, through the 2013 National Agriculture Policy and the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II) as well as the country’s 2017 Climate -Smart Agricultural Guideline.

It has been observed that food production is responsible for 80 percent of global forest depletion

However the policies are being implemented at a low pace due to diverse factors, chiefly shortage of needed human and financial capitals.

Agroecology is a holistic and integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture and food systems.

It seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while also addressing the need for socially equitable food systems within which people can exercise choice over what they eat and how and where it is produced.

Nicholas Lekule, Manager for Policy Analysis at Policy Forum points out the need for the government to increase the number of extension officers and empower them with useful knowledge pertaining agroecology practices.

“The government has set good policies that, if well implemented, would help to improve the performance of the country’s agriculture sector through inviting more farmers in the agroecology sector. Agroecology practices have been proved to stand among viable ways to overcome negative challenges of climate change and thus, it is prudent for the government to promote the practices among local farmers,” he observed.

Nicholas Lekule

With the sector absorbing more than 75 percent of the country’s population, mostly those coming from impoverished households, Lekule noted that enough funds must be allocated to support research and production of landrace seeds, organic fertilizers and bio-pesticide.

 “Despite being a viable way to contain effects of climate change and improve crops yields among farmers, it is disconcerting that in Tanzania agroecology is being practiced by few farmers, not exceeding two percent of all farmers across the country due to poor promotion and awareness creation,” he informed.

Action Aid Country Coordinator, Joram Wimmo, observes that agroecology is the fundamental method to enable many household families to escape from the shackles of poverty, but also to place the country in a positive pathway to approach to the set 2025/30 economic vision.

“Agroecology practices allow farmers to better use natural resources available at their vicinity to locally generate organic fertilizers and pesticides, together with more other vital inputs at low costs. Moreover, through use of the agroecology practices and technologies, would stand a better side to negate severe impacts of climate change, the ‘unwanted’ situation which for sometimes now continues to exacerbate crop yields levels among indigenous farmers to the extent of weaken performance of the vital sector in which the national income hinges.”

Joram Wimmo

“We’re running these initiatives with a patriotic spirit to cooperating with the government to build a viable platform upon which farmers in the country can implement to improve production and productivity while not devastating the country’s arable land, environment and agro-climatic nature as well as other agro endowments,” Wimmo explains.

As it happens, Action Aid Tanzania is currently working to assist smallholder women farmers to adopt and practice agroecology as the way to improve their individual livelihoods, but further to escalate the general performance of the country’ agriculture sector.

“We’re working with the Tanzania Women Farmers Forum (TWFF), the tailor-made forum for pushing for the statutory rights for the smallholder women farmers in the country, and in our well established working cooperation, the role of Action Aid is just to coordinate useful forums to give the farmers ample opportunities to meet with the policy makers and others at ministerial levels officials to air their grievances, as well as deliberating together and chart on ways to improve agroecology farming in the country”

Agroecology is farming which shares much in common with other approaches to sustainable farming. Agroecology is farming that centers on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources.

Usually, farming is thriving when it works with local ecosystems, for example, improving soil and plant quality through available biomass and biodiversity, rather than battling nature with chemical inputs. Agro-ecological farmers seek to improve food yields for balanced nutrition, strengthen fair markets for their produce, enhance healthy ecosystems, and build on ancestral knowledge and customs.

Among the best example of agroecology principal include conservation tillage, mixing crops in a single plot (intercropping and polycultures), crop rotation, cover crops and mulching, crop-livestock integration, integrated nutrient management, biological management, efficient water management, manipulation of vegetation structure as well as afro forestry.

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