Shrubs, thorny bushes, dry patched land and sandy soils characterise the terrain in the lowlands of Ruvu Jiugeni village, Same district, Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania. It hardly ever rains, considering it is on the lee ward side of the Pare Mountains. When it does rain, it floods; transport is a nightmare during such times since the roads become slippery, water logged and impassable.
Nasib Rashid, however, has overcome the odds to practice agriculture in the area. Coming from brown desolate scenery, his garden provides pleasant relief; lush green shoots stretching for several meters. On his one and a half acre plot of land, Rashid initially cultivated maize. Ignorant of any modern farming techniques at the time, he practiced only border farming, where he created borders around sub plots of land, where in the event of rain, water was trapped to keep the crops moist longer. This, however, did not save him from the disastrous harvests that followed. He harvested 5 bags of maize each weighing 100kg.
Last year, GWI EA recruited Rashid as one of the Champion Farmers who would benefit from training on new and improved agronomic skills, which would enable them not only conserve soil, but water as well and produce better yields. During the training, Rashid learnt about double tillage, where farmers dig twice as deep to enhance better water infiltration and moisture retention. A combination of the latter and his border methods soon produced better results for Rashid. With the addition of manure to his maize, Rashid realised 17 bags at his next harvest.
“I am very happy that I got very high yields since I received training from GWI EA,” he says.
His next attempt is with onions. On a recent visit to Same, Rashid boasted of one and a half acres of onions for which he has carefully followed instructions. A stream connecting from River Nyumba ya Mungu in Mwanga district flows on the outskirts of his plot. He benefits from this through the canals coursing through the small plots on his land, which in turn flow into the onion gardens thus irrigating them.
However, Rashid still faces some challenges; Poor road infrastructure perhaps is the biggest. Additionally, sometimes prices fall at the time of selling the produce, which cuts deeply into his profits, considering the expenses of investing in onions.
“It is very expensive in terms of the pesticides I buy to protect the crop against diseases.”
Other times, the crop is affected by diseases he is not familiar with. And yet, government extension workers are few and far between so he can’t get much needed technical advice in time to save his crop.
Despite the challenges, Rashid has vowed to continue adopting new practices to further improve his yields and ensure food security in his household.
GWI EA, Uganda