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 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.
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
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.”
GWI EA, Uganda