Agriculture

29 March 2012

Mr Swai from Hombolo Agriculture Research Institute demonstrates the difference between new improved seeds and traditional varieties.

Mr Mayaya from the Institute of Rural Development Planning interviews the Chololo Village Chairman about improved sunflower crop.

Chololo farmers talk about the improved millet crop.

Mr Swai shows off the improved groundnut variety.

25 November 2011

Magoye Ripper Demonstration

The famous Magoye Ripper was introduced in Chololo to begin breaking the compacted ‘hard pan’ soil in a comparison of alternative tillage methods. Four types of tillage will be tested alongside each other at demonstration plots around the village. Farmers will be able to try out the different methods and compare the results in terms of crop performance.

  • Magoye Ripper
  • Ox plough
  • Tied ridges
  • Traditional (slash and burn)

AGRICULTURE PLANS

Hombolo Agricultural Research Institute, Dodoma Municipal Council & Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement will deliver the agriculture interventions.

A1. Training farmers on appropriate cropping system for improving soil fertility and crop productivity.

Training on appropriate cropping systems will be delivered through TOT (Training of Trainers) and Farmer Field Schools. The training will be designed to offer alternative options of agricultural production including intercropping of different complementary plants, and integrated pest management, using push-pull technology. This technique, developed in Kenya, involves intercropping silverleaf desmodium, a fodder legume, with maize, napier and Sudan grass to provide both immediate and long- term benefits. Aromas produced by the desmodium repel (push) pests like the maize stemborer while scents produced by the grasses attract (pull) the stemborer moths and encourage them to lay eggs in the grass instead of in the maize. Napier grass produces a gummy substance that traps the stemborer larvae so, once they hatch, only a few survive to adulthood, thus reducing their numbers. Desmodium roots produce chemicals that stimulate germination of striga seeds, but then prevent them from attaching successfully to maize roots. The striga eventually dies and the number of seeds in the soil is also reduced. Besides being a good ground cover, desmodium is a nitrogen-fixing legume that improves soil fertility.

A2. Training farmers on conservation agriculture innovations

Training on conservation agriculture will be delivered to lead farmers, raising their understanding of this profitable and integrated approach to agriculture based on minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and crop rotations to maximise soil fertility, and reduce labour. This knowledge and skills will be disseminated to farmers through farmer groups and farmer field schools. Conservation agriculture (CA) holds tremendous potential for all sizes of farms and agro-ecological systems, but its adoption is perhaps most urgently required by smallholder farmers, especially those facing acute labour shortages. It is a way to combine profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns and sustainability and it has been proven to work in a variety of agroecological zones and farming systems. It is perceived by practitioners as a valid tool for Sustainable Land Management. (FAO http://www.fao.org/ag/ca/)

A3. Community Seed Production

To fast track production of Quality Declared Seed (QDS) using a Community Seed Production Model (CSPM). The CSPM aims at fast tracking the availability of drought tolerant high quality and yielding improved seeds for majority of vulnerable farming community. The basic seeds/ foundation seeds will be sourced from Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA Morogoro) for multiplication of Quality Declared Seeds. In collaboration with Tanzania Seed Official Certification Institute (TOSCI Morogoro) farmers will be trained on principles underlying QDS seed production to adapt to adverse effect of climate chnage.

Seeds will be produced for principal cereal food crops (sorghum, pearl millet) and cash crops (sunflower and groundnuts). In addition to improving household food security, improvements of cash crops is targetting women and youth among others to raise their income. Equally, strategies for improving seed distribution channels to other farmers in the village will be explored to make sure that seeds produced reach farming communities efficiently at affordable prices and required quantity. Training will be short courses approximately 2 weeks each during the crop cycle.

A4. Training farmers on soil water conservation innovations

Farmers will be trained in tillage innovations, a sound strategy for  optimizing in-situ rainwater harvesting on cropland using farmers field school approach. Participating farmers will be equipped with technical know how on use of tillage implements including Magoye ripper and ox-ridger so as to manipulate soil physical properties and configuration of seedbed to optimize soil moisture retention in the root zone. Farming community will be able to compare introduced packages versus their local practice of slash and burn (locally called ‘kuberega’) in terms of crop performance and other variables such as yield, earliness to maturity and dry matter yields.

 

A5. Training farmers on use of ox-weeder and oxcarts:

Introduction of labour saving technology mainly weeding tillage implements and oxcart for transportation of crop produce, manure etc. is of paramount importance. In the face of climate change, timely weeding is crually important because it reduces competition for basic natural resources namely soil water, nutrients and light, between plants and weeds thus making these vital resources only available to plants. Most farm operations such as planting, weeding, bird scaring and harvesting are undertaken by women. Therefore, in order to reduce women’s workload an intensive training on use of ox- weeding tillage implement will be conducted. The potential benefit of the large number of cattle in the area has not been exploited fully. Farmers will be trained on how to manage draft animals, prepare weeding yokes for various crops and ultimately perform actual weeding in the field firstly in farmers field school, secondly in their own fields.  Similarly, farmers will be shown how to use ox-carts for transportation of crop produce and other farm activities.

A6. Evaluation, improvement and promotion of indigenous in-situ rainwater harvesting innovations

Chololo farmers have developed local innovations which essentially involve harvesting of rainwater using pits made on cropland using hand hoe. The limitation of this local innovation is that scooping of fertile soils is done without any nutrient replenishment. Secondly pits are made randomly on cropland thus serving a low plant population. Therefore, in addition to the introduction of ripping and ridging innovations, local in-situ rainwater harvesting technology will be evaluated, improved and scaled out. The improvements will affect the number of plants, dimensions of pits and replenishment of soil fertility.

A7. Introduction and popularization of best agronomic practices

Introduction of best bet agronomic practices in drought prone areas of Central Tanzania is of paramount importance in adapting to climate change and variability. Agronomic innovations include the use of appropriate spacing, soil fertility management and thinning among others. Adoption of improved agronomic management has positive implication in terms of natural resources management such as soil moisture supply, light and plant nutrients. In each sub village, best agronomic practices will be demonstrated using FFS approach. This work will involve major crops such as sorghum, pearl millet, sunflower and groundnuts.

A8. Maximizing crop livestock interaction

Due to increasing human population pressure there is a need of intensification and closer integration of crop and livestock production systems in drought prone areas of Central Tanzania. In drought prone areas of Central Tanzania livestock derive their feed from natural rangeland and crop residues. Livestock manure is a precious soil fertility amendment which has not been harnessed in the area. Most farmers have insufficient knowledge on farmyard manure management and application to sustain food production. Therefore, the project will introduce best farmyard manure management and application packages to maximize quantity and quality as a strategy to improve the productive capacity of these mixed farming systems.

A9. Identification, analysis and development of agricultural subsectors that benefit women

Studies will be carried out to identify and assess the viability of agricultural subsectors that resonate with and offer most benefit to the most vulnerable members of the community, particularly women.  Female focus group discussions in Chololo have identified chicken farming as particularly beneficial to women, as chicken keeping is regarded as ‘women’s domain’ and offers a ready market / quick access to money to pay for school fees, medical bills etc. Further analysis of this and other subsectors, e.g. hibiscus / groundnuts, will refine this knowledge base and offer new production opportunities to female and vulnerable farmers.

A10. Low carbon economy development

Access to markets for agricultural produce will be enhanced through value chain development. Lead farmers and facilitators from partner organisations will be trained in the use of value chain development methods. Value chain actor forums will be established around specific low carbon products, bringing farmers together with buyers and service providers to establish a group of people committed to the equitable economic success of that product line. Value chains will be assessed, and strengthened through local value addition, for example many Chololo farmers grow hibiscus, then sell low quality raw material. A value chain could be developed with the introduction of solar dryers, sorting, and local simple packaging technology, to create a high value product ready for retail sale. Where appropriate, producers will be supported to establish and run an internal quality management system (IQMS), to raise and ensure quality of produce, and enable farmers to meet market standards under the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS). 

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