Nkoasenga is a small farming community on the slopes of Mount Meru near Arusha in northern Tanzania. The village is increasingly experiencing drought and soil degradation, which make it harder for local people togrow food and cash crops.
Jonas Somi is a 65-year-old farmer from Nkoasenga. He blames the village’s environmental problems on deforestation and so has started a tree-planting project. Somi is growing Grevillea robusta, more commonly known as silky oak, a species imported to Tanzania from Australia.
Winnie Saigodi, a mother of five, from Moleti village in Kongwa District, Tanzania, had long given up on ever harvesting any meaningful produce from her one acre farm.
‘I completely lost hope because for five years, I hardly harvested anything from the farm despite cultivating different crops. Nothing grew well and soil erosion was also a major problem,’ Saidogi says. She eventually left the land fallow until researchers from the World Agroforesty Centre (ICRAF) working with the Africa RISING project visited her and asked to use part of her farm for research trials on growing multipurpose Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium) trees, which can be grown for fodder, wood supply, wind erosion control and soil fertility improvement.
She readily accepted because she had nothing to lose. Two years after the research and demonstration trials started, her opinion about the productivity of her land has completely changed.
What she has seen has convinced her that she and other smallholder farmers in Tanzania’s soil erosion battered districts of Kongwa and Kiteto can still get good harvests from their farms and turn around their fortunes.
On Monday 20 July 2015, in a meeting organised by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) together with other partners in the livestock sector in Tanzania, President Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete launched the Tanzania’s Livestock Modernization Initiative (TLMI). The Initiative had been prepared during an intensive week-long meeting of livestock experts drawn from Tanzania and abroad.
During the meeting, a strong component of the discussions, also reflected in the TLMI itself, was the issue of rangeland. More than 70% of Tanzania’s approximate 25.8 million cattle and other livestock are bred and managed in Tanzania’s rangeland. However, the Ministry of Lands in Tanzania records that only about 1.28 million hectares or 2.1% of the 60 million hectares of rangelands is protected as grazing in village land use plans. The rest of the grazing areas rely on informal agreements and the weakening capacity of local rangeland users and customary institutions to protect them.
Crop farming is prioritized over livestock despite questions over resulting land use change in both economic and environmental terms. An economic valuation of pastoralism in the Usangu Plain in 2007 showed that if all values were taken into account, the contribution of the livestock subsector to GDP would likely be higher than that of agriculture (See a report by Mdoe and Mnenwa 2007). Yet, conversion of rangelands to irrigated and other crop agriculture in the Usangu Plain continues. Across Tanzania large-scale agricultural schemes, often illegal and haphazard encroachment by farmers, poorly planned infrastructural development contribute to the fragmentation, loss and degradation of rangelands, and the blocking of livestock routes.
2015 is THE year that is putting soils on the global map. Everyone in the development and agriculture world is talking about it, not least the researchers, donors and experts currently gathered in Berlin for Global Soils Week (GSW).
But while those at the top search for solutions to this global crisis, they must ensure that the guardians of the majority of the world’s farmland – smallholder farmers – are included.
Today (21 April 2015) Senior Soil Scientist Rolf Sommer presented a new short film at GSW asking those present to ensure just that.
“Small scale farmers need affordable and practical solutions to protect their soil,” Sommer said. “We need to listen to farmers to find out what soil means to them, how they manage soil fertility and what information they rely on to do so. And we need to work with them so that we can develop appropriate and culturally specific technologies that they can – and, more importantly, will – incorporate into their farming practices.”
In the film, entitled Talking Soils – Farmers Voices, farmers from Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia share their views on soil, what they know and how they manage it. Perhaps the starkest observation is how knowledge and practices vary across the countries and even across communities.
Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT)
Tanzania: Yes, Irrigation Farming Is Much Welcome
Daily News Editorial
THE National Assembly heard this weekend that the government is determined to invest heavily in agriculture in a quest to boost food production in the country by 25 per cent.
The initiative, the legislators have been told, hinges on irrigation farming. This is yet another good intentioned initiative after Kilimo Kwanza, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and many smaller ones, some of which are still operational.
The latest move seeks to enhance food output through the Agriculture Sector Development Programme. But it requires massive funding and strong hearts. We welcome the heartfelt initiative.
The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Godfrey Zambi, told the august House that the state has been setting aside funds for the project in phases starting with valleys along River Ruvuma.
He also said that Lipeleng’ende and Chikwedu Chipamanda valley projects in Newala district have been funded and that irrigation infrastructure construction is underway. Indeed, it is hats off to the ministry.
Food shortages are not acceptable anywhere. Tanzania is performing miserably in agriculture despite the presence of highly brilliant development initiatives.
These include the hefty plan to make Morogoro Region the breadbasket of the nation. The current Irrigation Farming initiative, which envisages increasing food output for local consumption, is indeed, another boon for the wananchi. However, it will take a lot of commitment from all players to log success.
ActionAid is calling on the Obama Administration to end support for the New Alliance, and focus its funding on supporting poor farmers in Africa.
Billion Dollar US-funded ‘New Alliance’ Forcing Communities Off their Land in Tanzania
Launched with great fanfare at the Camp David G8 summit in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was supposed to inject much-needed money into rural communities in Africa. But three years later, one of the first projects of this US$8 billion initiative is set to force communities off their land in Tanzania.
New research from international aid agency ActionAid has revealed that up to 1,300 people will lose their land or homes in the initial phase of the project, which will see Swedish-owned company EcoEnergy lease more than 20,000 hectares of land in the Tanzanian District of Bagamoyo for a sugarcane plantation.
The research found that families were being forced off their land following an inadequate consultation process conducted by EcoEnergy. Many of the people affected were not allowed to choose whether to leave their land, and were denied crucial information about the impact of the project on their ability to make a living off the land and feed their families.
Under pressure from the agribusiness lobby, the Obama Administration threw its weight behind the New Alliance, committing nearly US$2 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to the initiative. But in doing so, it has opened the door to even more murky land deals, some of which will see poor farmers shoved aside to make way for large plantations, producing food and fuel for overseas markets.
Opening the door to agribusiness
As part of the New Alliance agreements, ten African governments signed up to make policy changes that favor large agribusiness, and provide the land and labor for these huge plantations. But much of the land that is being allocated for New Alliance projects is already a source of food and income for some of the continent’s poorest farmers. These smallholder farmers produce up to 80 percent of the continent’s food, but need greater investment in skills and equipment to ensure sustainable growth for their countries’ economies.
ULUGURU Mountain ranges provide perhaps one of the best sceneries that Tanzania is endowed with and the beauty of the near Morogoro Municipality proves the splendor the nation can be proud of.
Apart from historical caves found in the mountain ranges that the natives used as hiding locations during war, the settings also cater for water sources for consumers in Morogoro Town and beyond.
However, destructive human activities undertaken in close proximity to the water sources on the slopes of the Uluguru Mountains threaten sustainability of the supply at the same time undermining efforts by the government to meet its objectives on improvement of water services.
During interview with ‘the Daily News’ in Morogoro recently, the Managing Director of Morogoro Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (MORUWASA) Eng Nicholaus Angumbwike named wild-fires, agricultural activities, house construction and animal husbandry as major activities posing serious threat to the ‘survival’ of water sources.
Tanzania: Climate Change and Ideal Land Management
Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)
By Deodatus Mfugale
THE story of a pastoralist in a remote part of Iringa Region on the Iringa -Dodoma road who tried to hang himself after losing 400 heads of cattle due to drought still lingers in my mind.
That was in 2006. He was a rich man by some standards but one day he woke up a very poor man.
The fact that he had nothing worth his name on earth and the loss of social status in the community made him decide to take his life rather than face the humiliation.
Many Masai pastoralists lost huge numbers of livestock, a situation which made some of them migrate to Kenya with what had remained of their herds, where the drought was not so severe.
When the drought ended, the pastoralists came back home with their herds and a new breed of cattle which could tolerate harsh conditions.
They also learned some lessons; one was the importance of land use planning- setting aside different areas for grazing during the dry season and the rainy season instead of leaving the herds to graze anyhow.
They also brought with them some seeds and cuttings for legumes and grass that could grow well in semi-arid areas instead of depending only on indigenous pastures.
A RESEARCH done recently in some districts has revealed that successful use of the constructed 13,301 improved biomass stoves (6,651 household each with two stoves) in Tanzania can reduce firewood consumption from 39,906 cubic m through using unimproved stove to 19,952 cubic m.
The monetary value for the wood saved per annum based on current firewood prices in Kwimba, Ukerewe and Moshi district (200,000/- per cubic m) is around 2.5bn/- or 1,256,945 US dollars.
Mr Bariki Kaale says that reduction of 19,952 cubic m of firewood from the pilot villages can minimise firewood harvesting from woodlands that could result to conservation of over 998 ha of woodlands.
Women groups interviewed confirmed that the stoves have provided various tangible benefits contributing to rapid improvement of their livelihood. Some of the benefits stated include reduction of firewood collection and use.
With 3 stone stove, the women reported that they used to collect at least two head loads of firewood (each weighing around 25-30 kg) and using around 8 hours per round trip or 16 hours per week.
Now they are collecting only one head load of firewood per week hence saving almost 50 per cent of firewood and around 8 hours.
This confirms that the improved biomass stoves have reduced smoke in the kitchen hence reducing indoor pollution. Depending on kitchen management, cooking time for most food types has been reduced by around 40 per cent, while incidences of children burns in the kitchen have also been reduced.
In the 2000 years of trading across the Indian Ocean, fruiting plants and spices from around the world have been introduced to Zanzibar and the smaller Pemba Island 80 kilometres to the north. The growth of plantations and trade in the sought-after spices brought new settlers, increasing demand for resources such as wood for building and herbs for medicine.
Spices are still a big part of daily life on Zanzibar and in Swahili culture, not just in food but as traditional medicines and for spiritual, cultural and cosmetic use. They are also a major export and tourist attraction. In 2013, tourism overtook agricultural exports as Tanzania’s main source of income — despite official statistics excluding informal activities such as spice farm tours, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
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