The Government of Tanzania’s National Irrigation Commission (NIC) has proposed that ICRISAT conduct a survey in Tanzania and do pilot interventions such as soil fertility assessment, fertilizer recommendations, water savings for Sustainable Rice Intensification (SRI), linking production of the non-rice crops to markets, rice-chickpea fallow, intercropping of various crops (including vegetables), and use of residual moisture after rice harvest to grow sorghum, grain cereals and vegetable crops. These would be part of a crop diversification program that would be built around irrigated rice paddy production in the central plateau of Tanzania. Tanzania has recognized ICRISAT as a significant partner in building a water management system to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capabilities of small-scale farmers in Tanzania, owing to the organization’s experience with watershed management, water harvesting, natural resource management (NRM), etc. in India and Ethiopia.
With recurrent rainfall instability, irrigation has proved to be a viable option for African countries to achieve food security. While significant investments were made in irrigation infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, natural resource management still lags and remains an area that needs considerable impetus to drive the food security agenda. With this goal in view, discussions were held between ICRISAT and Tanzanian government officials in Dar es Salaam towards a possible partnership in natural resources management, particularly water conservation, in Tanzania.
The ICRISAT delegation, which included Dr Chandra Madramootoo, former ICRISAT Board Chair; Dr Moses Siambi, ICRISAT Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa; Dr Patrick Okori, ICRISAT Malawi Country Representative; and Peter Ngowi, Africa RISING Project Coordinator for Kongwa and Kitet; met NIC officials in Dar es Salaam to discuss ways in which ICRISAT could help the government of Tanzania with its irrigation programming.
The NIC officials, including Eng Seth P Luswema, NIC Director General; Eng Eliakim Chitutu, Director of Research and Technology Promotion; and Eng Paschal Shayo, Director of Planning and Infrastructure, noted that the region has over 2,500 small-scale farmers who grow rice with surface irrigation in schemes that do not have good water conservation practices, leading to a shortage of water for downstream users, and little to no water for adjacent environmental systems.
The ICRISAT delegation also met with officials of the Department of Research and Development (DRD) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. The DRD, represented by Dr Jackson Nkuba, Acting Director, and Dr Geophrey Kajiru, Assistant Director, pledged support to ICRISAT’s planned interventions in watershed management, water management and NRM, adding that ICRISAT’s interventions are important for the country’s food and financial security.
There were deliberations on the signing of a fresh Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Tanzania and ICRISAT, considering that the previous MOU expired five years ago. There is optimism that the MoU will be signed soon after the DRD is transformed into a semi-autonomous organization named Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), which will be responsible for administering the MOU with the Tanzanian Government, with the approval of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Attorney General’s Office.
The meetings were held during 12–13 July 2017.