New project bets on ‘seeing is believing’ to improve farm livelihoods and landscape management in Tanzania
A new initiative aims to create learning sites that showcase proven agro-ecological practices, improve their adoption and institutionalize them in a participatory manner for the benefit of at least 6,000 vulnerable farm households. To raise agricultural productivity and, in turn, to improve food and nutritional security in Central Tanzania, research, academia and international development actors in the region recently launched a three-year collaboration.
The collaborative project will be implemented in the watershed close to the villages of Sagara, Mlali, Laikala, Nghumbi, Lengaji, and Moleti in Kongwa district of Tanzania’s Dodoma region.
Agriculture is an important contributor to Tanzania’s economy, accounting for 30% of the GDP, employing 80% of the country’s workforce while generating 85% of its annual export earnings. Despite its relevance, Tanzania’s agriculture sector faces many challenges that can be addressed through knowledge generation, sharing and innovation by way of research and development.
The project aims to address those challenges through an integrated watershed approach to manage landscapes. Accordingly, it seeks to bring communities together to plan and implement interventions such as contours and vegetation to manage runoff, and introduce new packages of crop and agronomic interventions to not only improve farms but to also improve landscapes. Such an approach is vital for holistic and sustainable improvement, and to make livelihoods resilient. The project is being funded by the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development and Dr Birhanu Zemadim Birhanu, Senior Scientist, Land and Water Management, ICRISAT, is its Principal Investigator.
Speaking during the project launch meeting on 15 February, Dr Lameck Makoye, Center Manager, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)-Hombolo, and a representative of TARI’s Director General, said the project will build on the good work of the Africa RISING project that introduced Fanya Juu and Fanya Chini (a commonly used terrace structure to control erosion).
As a participatory adaptive research effort, the farming community is set to take the lead and it is hoped that the project will influence policy regarding the region by demonstrating scalable landscape-level innovations to policymakers and other development actors in addition to the larger farming community.
“Through the established learning sites, we hope other farming communities and policymakers see that landscape approaches are key to improving livelihoods and enhancing/safeguarding the natural resource base,” said Dr Anthony Whitbread, Director of the Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD) Research Program, ICRISAT and its Country Representative in Tanzania.
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