Changing fortunes of farmers and empowering women in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania through legumes

20160311_163804While it is the number one cash crop for most farmers in Tanzania, maize is getting a serious run for its money from legumes such as beans, groundnut, and soybean which are becoming commercial crops in the cool and hilly terrain of the Southern Highlands. In addition, legumes are also good for tackling malnutrition and soil infertility as they are a cheap source of protein and are able to fix nitrogen from the air into the soils.

This turn of events is being fueled firstly by many years of collaboration between farmers and Tanzanian and international research institutions,  a range of development partners, and the private sector that has seen the development and dissemination of improved varieties and good agronomic practices enabling farmers to increase their legume yield by up to four times.

These include the government funded Uyole Agricultural Research Institute with technical backstopping from international research organizations such as the ), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA),  International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT)and Wageningen University; development NGOs such One Acre Fund and Farm Inputs Promotion Services (FIPS)  and support from the Tanzanian Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

And secondly, a ready market within and in the neighboring countries of Zambia, DR Congo, Malawi, and as far down as South Africa.

On a recent visit to the region, we met a number of farmers whose fortunes have greatly changed and their livelihoods improved as a result of growing legumes.

Daudi Bukuku – from borrowing soap to a respectable bean expert

Daudi Bukuku, accompanied by his wife explaining on the benefits he has reaped from cultivating beans
Daudi Bukuku, accompanied by his wife explaining the benefits he has reaped from cultivating beans

Daudi Bukuku, a charming 38-year-old farmer has seen his life turnaround from at one time not being able to afford to buy soap for his family to being able to purchase and install a biogas plant at his home reducing the drudgery and time spent by his wife looking for firewood. All thanks to beans.

“Before starting this improved farming of beans, I used to harvest 200 kg of beans from an acre. Life was hard and I was struggling to even buy soap for my family. However, everything changed when I was invited for a training at ARI Uyole on improved farming methods for  beans and also received new, improved varieties to try,” Daudi says.

“I learned proper spacing, proper use of fertilizers, and how to harvest and store my crop. I applied everything I had learned and now my yield is up to 700 to 800 kg per acre. My life is so much better as you can see. I have even managed to buy livestock. I have cows, pigs, and chickens. I have also been able to install a biogas plant that converts the waste from my livestock into gas for cooking. I am no longer destroying the environment for firewood. And my wife now respects me as I have made her life easy. She is not struggling with cooking. In twenty minutes, all the food is ready,” he said.

Daudi’s farm acts as a demonstration site to transfer the technologies and knowledge he has gained from the researchers to the surrounding farmers who are inspired with what they see and by the changes he has made in his life. He has also been trained in the production of Quality Declared Seeds and therefore sells seeds of various local and improved varieties to surrounding farmers.

Empowering women and improving marriages

DSCN5561 (2)
Witness Sikayange, chair lady of Upendo women’s group shows the bean plants in one of their farms

Upendo women’s group in Mchewe village in Mbeya rural district has also seen beans change their lives and their marriages for the better.

According to the chair of the group, Witness Sikayange, the women came together in 2010 to find ways to work together to improve their lives and those of their families through farming.

“We realized we can earn more money from beans compared to maize as we can harvest up to three times a year compared to once a year for maize. We then approached researchers and government extension workers for training on improved farming methods and for improved varieties. And after that, we started commercial farming of beans.

“We are now living a very comfortable life. We all have improved houses and are taking our children to school. And our marriages are even better. Before we used to have a lot of quarrels with our husbands but since we started making our own money, they now respect us as we are not just sitting begging for everything,” Witness said.

The group is also growing Quality Declared Seeds (QDS) for the various varieties of bean released from Uyole Agricultural Research Institute to sell to surrounding farmers and processing pre-cooked beans for sale.

Spreading the success

Women selling an assortment of beans on the roadside in Mbeya, southern Tanzania
Women selling an assortment of beans on the roadside in Mbeya, southern Tanzania

There are a number of ongoing research initiatives to build on to these successes to  spread the benefits of legumes to more farmers: .

Building capacity of research institutes to develop new legume varieties:  Efforts to provide farmers with better varieties are also continuing through the Tropical Legumes III (TLIII) project funded by the Gates Foundation and  led by ICRISAT.

According to Emmanuel Monyo, the coordinator for this project, TLIII  is seeking to improve the breeding capacity of national agricultural research systems and of  three CG centers―CIAT, IITA, and ICRISAT to provide farmers with improved high yielding legume varieties  to improve the  production and productivity of the crops in Sub-Saharan Africa And Asia. Its target is to improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of smallholder farmers through increased legume production.

N2africa – adding  soybean to the mix:  The ‘Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa,’ project,  in short  N2Africa, led by Wageningen University in the Netherlands is promoting the production of soybean in the area and introducing  the use of seed innoculants and improved farming methods such as higher density planting and use of appropriate fertilizers both organic, inorganic and bio-fertilizers.

According to Fred Baijukya, an agronomist at IITA’s Eastern Africa hub  and N2Africa Country Coordinator for Tanzania, the project is currently conducting trials of new improved soybean varieties together with ARI-Uyole and lead farmers to identify the best-performing ones as well as have farmers preferred traits to recommend for release.

Freddy Baijukya, IITA Agronomist and N2Africa Country Coordinator explaining to the group on the long-term trials
Freddy Baijukya, IITA Agronomist and N2Africa Country Coordinator explaining to the group on the long-term trials

The project is also conducting agronomic trials looking into the best agronomic practices that will ensure the farmers get the highest returns including time of planting, spacing and use of fertilizers.

Dissemination of technologies: One challenge that faces research organizations is the wide-scale dissemination and scaling out of new technologies to reach many farmers. Two NGOs―One Acre Fund and Farm Inputs Promotion (FIPs)―are assisting in these efforts. FIPs is providing farmer with small packs of different inputs including seeds for improved varieties and fertilizers.  For testing and adoption of those they like and also providing advice on good agronomic practices. FIPS also links farmers to the agro-dealers and private sector companies to ensure supply of the inputs.

One Acre Fund on the other hand is providing loans to farmers to purchase seeds and other inputs such as fertilizers for their farms and training them on better farming practices.

The two development partners are now keen to work with the research teams to help in the dissemination of new legume varieties released from research institutes as well as inputs such as rhizobium and legume fertilizers.

Upendo Women Group holding small packets of inputs from FIPS to test on their farms and decide if they would like to usethem the next growin season.
Upendo Womens Group holding small packets of inputs from FIPS for testing on their farms

These successful cases show the clear link between research and development, says Jean Claude Rubyongo, a seed system specialist from CIAT and who is also one of the researchers who has been conducting research on bean in the country for many years parenting with ARI-Uyole.

If the successes achieved by Daudi and Upendo can be replicated throughout the region, then clearly the region will transform itself and make a big dent in the efforts to support the country to industrialize and reduce poverty and malnutrition.

IFAD/ IITA/HQCF value chain project organizes farmers’ field day…and provides Kwara farmers with a weeding machine

The IFAD/IITA HQCF Value chain project organized a field day at Ijoga-Orile on 8 December 2015, bringing together HQCF master bakers, extension agents, farmers, financial institutions, input suppliers, local machine fabricators, marketers, nutritionists, processors, researchers, transporters, youth, and students. The event was hosted by project partner Open Door International Ltd.

More than 120 project and non-project farmers participated in the field day. The field day aimed to allow project farmers and non-project farmers to participate and witness the harvesting of the demo farm planted at Ijoga-Orile; bring together all actors in the value chain at Ijoga-Orile and foster a business-oriented sustainable platform; and finally say thank you to the community for welcoming the project and Open Door to Ijoga-Orile.

“The result of profitable cassava production is what we are witnessing today,” said Alhaji Aderemi Mohammed, CEO and Director of Open Door International, who encouraged other farmers within the environs of Ijoga-Orile to work with the project and his processing factory. He said he is ready to procure all cassava roots that the farmers produce.

Various farm inputs were on display, such as herbicides and improved cassava stems; also 10% HQCF/wheat bread was given to participants.

Gregory Nwaoliwe of HQCF Project gives 10% HQCF–wheat bread to participants during the field day.
Gregory Nwaoliwe of HQCF Project gives 10% HQCF–wheat bread to participants during the field day.

During the feedback session, community representatives called for more field days and expressed thanks to IITA for introducing a cassava variety that was able to withstand the dry season conditions and produce a bumper harvest, which they witnessed. One of the youth and a project beneficiary, who spoke on behalf of the other youths, appreciated the effort of the Project for the training they acquired on mechanical planting, farm management, and weed control.

Kehinde Adegbola, a non-project farmer, expressed his surprise at the cassava varieties the project introduced and the bountiful yield. He said he wondered if cassava can be easily harvested irrespective of the dry season. “I can say categorically that the cassava business has been made easy and is now more profitable than before.”

The IFAD/IITA/HQCF Value Chain Project Coordinator, Alenkhe Bamidele, in his closing remarks thanked the community for their warm acceptance of the project and advised all participants to take advantage of all the useful products that the project had introduced within the 12 months of working in Ijoga-Orile. He also urged all actors along the value chain to work together, exploiting existing business opportunities that can be generated within the platform as members of the Ijoga-Orile innovation platform.

…Young cassava farmers and outgrowers of Arogunjo Farm Limited, in Kwara State, Nigeria, were given a cassava weeding machine last December 2015 to ease the back-breaking work of removing weeds from their fields. The machine was donated by the IFAD/IITA High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) Project in collaboration with the IITA Cassava Weed management project.

During the presentation of the machine, over 20 youths and outgrowers including women, were trained were trained on how to use the machine. Bamidele Alenkhe, IFAD/IITA HQCF Project coordinator, advised the youth to maintain the machine properly and also tasked the recipients to appoint a custodian of the machine.

The training highlighted the efficiency, maintenance, and guidelines in the use of the weeder to avoid destroying cassava stems. IITA weed management technician Uchenna Ifeanyi Ene skillfully demonstrated the use of the weeder to uproot the weeds without harming the cassava, and let the training participants try using the machine.

IITA’s Uchenna Ene demonstrates the use of the cassava weeding machine to training participants.
IITA’s Uchenna Ene demonstrates the use of the cassava weeding machine to training participants.

The participants expressed awe at seeing such a machine that could remove weeds growing between cassava plants.

Abdul-Rasaque Alabi, one of the youths, said that the machine was easy to handle. “This machine is very easy to use. If I have the opportunity of buying one, I can plant more cassava on my farm and get very good yields at harvest time, because I know from experience that weeds disturb the root quality of our cassava.”

Another youth, Sadu Jimoh, said that IITA should provide more machines and create further awareness about the weeder because it makes farming easier for the farmers. “If farmers like me can be given this machine for free, and combined with the training that IITA has given me on land preparation and the use of improved cassava varieties, then my productivity will increase year in, year out.

The training and demonstration did not hinder women from participating, Catherine Imola and Mariam Olaoye also tried their hand using the machine. After the demonstration Imola said “I like the machine. I handled it easily, without stress; with this women’s participation in farming will increase and and we will not wait for men to help us uproot weeds in our farm again.” On the other hand, Olaoye said the machine was a little heavy for her to handle. “Manufacturers should make provision for smaller or lighter machines. If I see something that is a little smaller; I will be fine with it,” she said.

Exploring the cassava leaves value chain

While the main source of income for cassava farmers in Tanzania is through the sale of cassava roots, the leaves which are edible and rich in protein and vitamins are becoming increasingly important. However, trade in the leaves is less developed and experiences many challenges including volatility in prices and a lack of market information. Furthermore, the women play a major role in the production and processing of cassava leaves but they are not engaged on the commercial side.

This is according to Karolin Anderson, who is conducting a study to explore and describe the cassava leaves value chain and, at the same time, looking into gender relations. Karolin is an MSc student of Agricultural Development from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, co-supervised by scientists at IITA-Tanzania. Karolin, who has been in Tanzania for three months in Kimwamindi and Nyamakalago villages in Mkuranga district, recently presented her preliminary findings at a seminar at IITA-Tanzania.

“Scientific studies show that 100 g of cooked cassava leaves provides about 3.7 g of protein which is pretty good for a green leafy vegetable. They contain essential amino acids such as lysine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, and lots of arginine — which are not common in green leafy plants thus making cassava leaves a great protein source,” she said. “They contain vitamins and can play a key role in improving the nutritional status of farming communities.”

Harvesting cassava leaves.
Harvesting cassava leaves.

She said although there had been a steady increase in trade in cassava leaves which are found in supermarkets and the local markets and a corresponding increase in demand, the farmers complained that they lacked sufficient information on markets.

Nearly  half of the farmers interviewed who sell the fresh leaves sold only one-half of what they produced and the other half was for home use. This was due to insufficient market information for a majority of them. Market prices were also unstable, which discouraged many of the farmers from engaging in producing cassava leaves for commercial purposes. Other challenges identified were the lack of processing technology and the low level of awareness about their potential value.

In terms of gender roles, Karolin said women were more engaged in the production and processing of cassava leaves than men but occupied less in their trade in the markets. The women were engaged in the harvesting and grinding of the leaves which was also done only by female retailers. In 62% of the households that were engaged in cassava leaves production the processing was all done by women. Responsibilities at home, lack of business skills, low confidence, and negative cultural norms were some of the factors that limited women’s engagement in this trade.

Karolin said the cultural norms that undermined women’s participation in the commercial trade in cassava leaves should be discouraged and men encouraged to support women’s engagement in markets. This in turn would speed up efforts to tackle hunger and poverty.

N2Africa project receives prestigious World Bank award

Harvesting Nutrition Celebration: A Showcase of Award-Winning Agriculture-Nutrition, a ceremony to celebrate the three projects that scooped the 2013 Human Nutrition Award, took place 19 February, at the World Bank Headquarters  in Washington D.C. The projects were selected for bridging the gaps among nutrition, agriculture, and food security.  ​

An N2Africa farmers’ field day in Tanzania showcases modern legume-growing technologies.
An N2Africa farmers’ field day in Tanzania showcases modern legume-growing technologies.

 

The N2Africa project was recognized for its effort in scaling out technologies that promote better nutrition through promoting legume production among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. This was in the most scalable approach category. Theresa Ampadu-Boakye, from IITA-Nairobi, the project’s Monitoring and Evaluation Expert, and Ilse de Jager, N2Africa PhD student at Wageningen University, received the award on behalf of the project team.

N2Africa stood out as a large-scale multi-country project, working with many partners and therefore able to reach many smallholder farmers, and its efforts to enhance agricultural productivity through the cultivation of legumes which potentially improve the nutritional security of the household, directly and/or indirectly.

The Harvesting Nutrition Contest, sponsored by the World Bank, aimed  at rewarding agricultural projects around
the world that have bridged the gaps among nutrition, agriculture, and food security. It was organized by the Secure Nutrition Knowledge Platform in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Save the Children.

N2Africa is a large-scale project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project is now in its second phase which began on 1 January 2014.

The five-year initiative is led by Wageningen University together with IITA, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), among other partners. It also brings together a range of partners from the following countries where it operates: DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

The 2013 Harvesting Nutrition contest attracted 50 submissions from projects around the world seeking to improve the impact of agriculture and/or food security interventions on nutritional outcomes.

 

SARD-SC demonstrates improved cassava farming practices to spur production in Kigoma, Tanzania

Dr Habaye explain to the farmers the on-going agronomy trials to farmers during the field day.
Dr Habaye explaining to the farmers the on-going agronomy trials to farmers during the field day.

The Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project led by the International of Institute Tropical Agriculture (IITA) held a successful one-day farmers field day to demonstrate the improved cassava production technologies it was piloting to increase the crop’s productivity while at the same time conserving and maintaining soil fertility.

The event also enabled the project to get feedback from the farmers on the technologies that they preferred and which they would readily adopt to enhance productivity of cassava in the region to improve food and nutritional security and contribute to poverty reduction.

The technologies demonstrated at the event, held on 27 February 2014 at Kakonko District, Kigoma Region, in Tanzania, included intercropping and the use of fertilizers and new improved varieties.

??????????Dr Mboyi Mugendi, a Zonal Research Director at the Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute (LZARDI) hailed the technologies being piloted by the SARD-SC project saying they had the potential to increase production of cassava, one of the region’s key staple crops, and contribute to efforts to improve food security and reduce poverty in the region.

“The improved cassava farming technologies being piloted by the project have the potential to significantly boost cassava production in this region and at the same time conserve soil fertility. However, the farmers will also need further training in order to adopt the new technologies being piloted,” said Dr Mugendi.

Dr.Mboyi Mgendi from LZARD,explaining on benefit of soil measure before application of any technologies to farmers.
Dr.Mboyi Mugendi from LZARD,explaining on benefit of soil measure before application of any technologies to farmers.

He added: “There is need to create awareness among the farmers on the importance of testing their soils so they can know the deficient minerals and the best crops to grow and fertilizers to use. They also need support in the testing.”

Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) were identified as major challenges threatening production of cassava in the region. Dr Simon Jeremiah from LZARDI briefed the farmers on the two diseases, their symptoms, and the measures to take to stop their spread.

He also urged farmers to invest in the production of clean seeds and to change to the improved cassava varieties which are tolerant to the two diseases that the project will recommend from its trials.

Dr Jeremiah demonstrating symptoms of CMD and CBSD to farmers at Juma Maganga,(Cassva Mosaic and Brownstrak disease) at Kakonko district
Dr Jeremiah demonstrating symptoms of CMD and CBSD to farmers

Mr Christopher Briton Chugwa, Chairman of a farmers group in Kibondo District, said the farmers’ day was important as it exposed farmers to new technologies that had potential to increase yields to motivate them to improve their farming practices.

Miss Veronica Laurence, a farmer from Kiobela Village, said the improved varieties and farming practices being demonstrated by the project had better yields compared to the local varieties and local practices. However she added lack of financial resources was a major barrier to many farmers in adopting the new technologies.

Thanking the project on behalf of the Kakonko District Commissioner, Mrs Tausi Madebo, the Division Officer, said that the technologies demonstrated a lot of potential to boost cassava production. She encouraged farmers to form associations and work as a group to tap into the existing market opportunities for the crop in the area.

??????????
Women farmers keenly listening to the speakers during the field day

Participants at the event included farmers from Kakonko, Kiobela, and Kasanda villages, government officials, and staff from LZARD and IITA.

 The SARD-SC is a multinational project led by several CGIAR centers whose objective is to enhance food and nutrition security and contribute to reducing poverty in selected Regional Membership Countries (RMCs) in Africa. Funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), it focuses on raising the productivity and profitability of cassava, maize, rice, and wheat.

It is being implemented in Benin Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

 

N2Africa inspires farmers in Tanzania to use fertilizers to boost bean production

??????????
A farmer evaluates beans with NPK fertilizer applied.

The N2Africa project recently held a field day for smallholder farmers in Kwemashai Village, Lushoto District, Tanga Region, in Tanzania. The event allowed farmers to compare the different legume farming treatments being tested by the project.

The farmers evaluated how well the beans grew when applied either Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer, Monopotassium phosphate (PK) fertilizer or farm yard manure, when each of the fertilizers was mixed with the farmyard manure, and when no fertilizers whatsoever were used.

Overall, the farmers were impressed with the performance of beans grown using a mixture of organic and inorganic fertilizers and many said they were ready to invest in inorganic fertilizers to boost crop production. Currently, only a few farmers use fertilizers, and it’s usually small quantities of farmyard manure.

??????????
A section of the over 200 farmers who attended the Farmers field day at the project’s demo plot.

The one-day event held on 21 January 2015 and was attended by over 200 farmers drawn from surrounding villages and the project research team and partners including local government officials, local politicians, and agricultural extension officers.

Promising technologies

One of the farmers, Fatuma Salim, said she was impressed with the combination of NPK and manure, and NPK alone. “The beans are growing very well and look very promising. In my farm, I only apply manure on beans but from these demonstrations I have seen the results of adding NPK fertilizers  to the manure. I am excited to try using NPK or the combination of manure and NPK for better results. ”

Honesmo Temba from Chakechake village said the use of fertilizers combined with manure shows promise of increasing the yield of beans which in turn will motivate farmers to grow the crop more and earn more income.

“I came here to Kwemashai Village to learn from the demo plots about the types of fertilizer technologies farmers can effectively use to get high yields. This is important as it can provide an opportunity for farmers to generate income for the benefit of their families. These technologies show we can increase the production of beans and this will encourage farmers to grow more beans. The children will also be well fed and this will make them more attentive in class.”

He added, “Plants are like human beings. Human beings require better nutrients for growth, health, and thinking capacity, the same applies to beans.”

DSCN7402Speaking during the field day, Professor Ken Giller from Wagenigen University and the N2Africa project leader, noted that poor soils lacking important minerals such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous were a major constraint to farmers and one of the reasons behind the low yield in their fields.

He said he was pleased with the enthusiasm and interest shown by the farmers on the technologies being demonstrated. “Though the N2Africa project has been working in Tanzania for only one and half years, it already looks promising just by the farmers’ interest in these technologies. We hope that they will now invest and start applying some of them,” he said.

Tackling market issues DSCN7283 Dr Frederick Baijukya, an Agronomist with IITA and the Country Coordinator for N2Africa in Tanzania, assured the farmers that the project will work hand-in-hand with them and the authorities to address the challenges they were facing in bean farming including lack of markets. He further urged them to form associations to help in marketing their crops. He said the project’s next step will be to ensure that farmers have access to the promising technologies that they have selected.

The village chairman Mr Yauto Abdish Mahongi, thanked the project for helping farmers to increase the production of beans. “Most bean farmers do not apply fertilizers. This project is helping raise awareness among farmers through these demonstrations that are giving farmers the opportunity to see for themselves how fertilizers can improve their yield. Therefore on behalf of Kwemashai village, I would like to thank the project for supporting us. We are happy to be among the selected beneficiaries and we promise to support it all the way.”

About N2Africa

The N2Africa project, led by Wageningen University and implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agricultural (IITA) and many other partners, encourages farmers to grow legumes for food and nutrition security, to increase their incomes as well as to improve soil health through nitrogen fixation. N2Africa promotes improved technologies to smallholder legume farmers that include the use of improved seeds, appropriate fertilizers, inoculants, and good agronomic practices to increase yield.

more images

story and photos – Eveline Massam

N2Africa project launched in Tanzania

Putting biological nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers

also find more info on the project’s newsletter, the podcast