Tag Archives: irrigation

Bosco, a Champion farmer leading by example

Champion farmer selection was one of the initial and important steps in the implementation of Water Smart Agriculture by GWI EA across the three programme countries, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Findings from an internal programme evaluation in Same district, Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania, indicate a major transformation in farmers’ efforts to improve their livelihoods by raising food production and increasing household income, through the adoption of water smart agriculture practices as a sustainable remedy to the unfavourable climate and environment.

Bosco garden
Bosco in his maize garden

Bosco Masawe, 54, a champion farmer in Ruvu Mferejini village is fondly called “Tyson” not only because of a well built body structure, but also his efforts in practicing water smart agriculture. During our focus group discussion, his peers singled him out as an outstanding champion farmer in the area.

Located some 28km from Same town, Bosco’s farm is the embodiment of Water Smart Agriculture practices including ridges, made through double digging, crop residues applied as compost manure, agroforestry fruit trees, to serve as boundaries on his farm and irrigation through tapped water from River Pangani. As other farmers struggle to cope with the unfavourable climatic conditions and the environment, Bosco’s 2-acre farm is ever green and never short of crops to harvest. He hires labour to support him especially in preparing the land for cultivation and, on average, pays Tshs30,000 ($18) for work done on half an acre. He keeps records of all quantities and costs of inputs applied, including harvests attained.

A stream from River Pangani used by Bosco to irrigate his crops

With all these efforts, productivity on his small farm has improved from 7 bags of maize per acre to 12 bags, thus raising his income per season from Tshs600,000 ($364) to 1,500,000 ($910). Most recently, he earned Tsh100,000 ($61) from his small vegetable garden. Through savings and using part of his farm income, he has constructed a modern toilet facility for his family, the only one of its kind in the village, setting him back some Tshs3,000,000 ($1,820). In addition, he has also constructed a small shop for his wife along the village road to sell agricultural produce as it’s directly harvested from his farm.
A small shop constructed for sale of agricultural produce

His success can largely be attributed to the water smart agriculture interventions he received in form of trainings and exchange visits. In addition, GWI facilitated him and seven other champion farmers to attend the annual “Nane Nane Agricultural Show” in Arusha, which brings together motivated farmers from all corners of the country. At this event, participants are privileged to learn different things such as appropriate and modern farming practices and technologies. With exhibition stalls spread across several hectares of land, all forms of agriculture are represented including big and small scale farms sharing their successes and challenges from which farmers learn. Bosco used this opportunity to buy a tool kit at Tshs10,000 ($6) to supplement his water smart agriculture knowledge and skills. The information from the tool kit has enhanced his skills in quality seed selection and treatment. To demonstrate this, he was able to select and treat 20kgs of quality maize seeds from his own harvest for the next planting season.

Bosco is not selfish with his success; He is supporting farmers in his village and beyond to

Bosco's shop
Bosco’s shop constructed for sale of agricultural produce

adopt the best practices from which he has greatly benefited. He is among the many champion farmers who have strongly demonstrated that, through Water Smart Agriculture, productive farming is possible even in harsh climatic conditions and environments. His fellow champion farmers from Ruvu Mferejini village perhaps describe him best, saying, “His improvement in livelihood reflects his field efforts.”

Clement Mayanja
GWI EA, Uganda


Improved Access to Water for Agriculture can Lift Households out of Poverty

Interview with Tesahmu Haile, Champion Farmer in Dera

Our back yard cultivation carries us through the food shortage months. But the methods we use to water the plants and vegetables there are so laborious. What we need is support to improve our access to water  for Agriculture,” says Teshamu Haile, a farmer in Abesheme Got of Korata kebele, in Dera district, Ethiopia.

Teshamu Haile is a 45 year old single mother of six. Two of her children are living with her. The youngest, a 14 year old boy, has missed the opportunity to go to school because he has to stay at home and help his mother look after cattle and the crop farm.   Haile makes a living out of her farm land, one and half hectares of land, half of which is rented out to a farmer who plows the land and shares half of the harvest with her. The other half is located near the Gumera stream, and is plowed by her eldest son of 20 years.Teshamu_watering

She produces only once in a year and grows mostly Rough Pea and Chick Pea. This year she has planted rice for the first time, anticipating a higher market price.  Although she has land close to a surface water source, Haile has never irrigated it, because she doesn’t have the means to buy or rent motor pumps to lift water from the stream and take it to her farm. The rent for motor pumps is about 50 birr (2.7USD)  for one hour, she says.

In her backyard, she grows  Coffee and Gesho (a plant whose leaves are used in making local brew). Water for the backyard plants is laboriously transported on the back of a donkey from the nearby river, a task carried out by her youngest son or herself.

Women have problems to access water for irrigation. We don’t have the energy or skills to dig wells. We have to rely on labor intensive methods, transporting water on our backs or on the backs of donkeys to water our crops. We tried to dig a well in our backyard but we didn’t find any water. It is difficult when there is no well nearby. It is hard to transport water in sacks using donkeys,” says Haile.

Haile’s family experiences food shortage approximately for two months in a year, around July and August, as the crop harvested the previous year is fully consumed and the next harvest is only expected. The vegetables planted in her back garden help the household to bridge the gap during the food shortage months.

The project (GWI EA) should help us to access water we can use for agriculture. That’s our biggest need,” She says.

Bethel Terefe

GWI East Africa, Ethiopia