Tag Archives: Same District

Cultivating Against the Odds

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.

Nasib
Champion Farmer Nasib Rashid

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.

Nasib-garden
Nasib Rashid shares tips with other Champion Farmers

 

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.

 
Elizabeth Agiro
GWI EA, Uganda

Meet Mrindoko, A True Champion Farmer in Bangalala

Mrindoko
Champion Farmer Ali Mrindoko

Ali Mrindoko, 55, lives in Bangalala village, in the South Pare Mountains, Same district, in the north east of Tanzania. Like majority of the people in Bangalala, he lives off his land where he grows both food crops and cash crops. But something makes his plot of land stand out—during a typical dry spell his crops are greener.

In 2005, Mrindoko started implementing the conservation agriculture technique of stone terracing. This involves digging terraces and building stone embankments along the contours. It reduces run-off and in effect controls soil erosion while increasing the soil’s water retention capacity.It is hard and labour intensive but the result is better yields.

Stones and trees
Mrindoko’s homestead is surrounded by healthy, green crops. We ask him why the farmers around him are not applying stone terracing.

Stone Terrace
Mrindoko’s stone terraces

“It is labour intensive. The flat stones needed for the work can be challenging to produce,” he tells us. “Otherwise I am always happy to help other farmers implement the method and to share my knowledge.”

The other farming techniques Mrindoko uses are intercropping and agro-forestry. The careful selection of crops and trees to mix on his farm helps him produce a variety as well as reduce soil erosion.

Mrindoko works on his farm with his wife and son. His other children, six in number, are in school or working elsewhere. When asked what his biggest challenge as a farmer is, Mrindoko says “access to enough water for production.”

Although terraces can hold water when it rains, their capacity is limited when droughts set in. Mrindoko has suffered the impact of drought before to the extent that in 1999 he was forced to migrate to a place known as Kabuku in search of food because Bangalala had become extremely dry.

As we exchange pleasantries and prepare to leave his impressive farm, Mrindoko surprises us with sugarcane. “Take this with you,” he says as he hands us the sugarcane. His wife and child come quickly to bid us farewell.

Stone terracing ensures food security
Stone terracing is an efficient and sustainable agriculture technique for smallholder farmers. It helps in soil-water retention and reduces erosion. The terraces also protect the crops from stray animals. A few cows could severely damage crops if they crossed a field which has not been stone-terraced. Bringing techniques and technologies for food security to more farmers is what drives GWI EA.

Mathilde Merolli
Tanzania