Farm productivity of dryland farmers can be improved with better seeds and practices and natural resource management
To boost agricultural productivity in the drylands of Tanzania, ICRISAT is looking at the various issues along the dryland cereals and legumes value chain, through a holistic approach from crop improvement to linking farmers to markets.
Under the Africa Rising program, ICRISAT looks at intensifying maize-legume-based systems in the semi-arid districts of Kongwa and Kiteto. Research covers identification of adapted pigeonpea and groundnut varieties for each agroecological zone, developing appropriate seed systems for delivery to farmers, training farmers in integrated soil fertility management and soil and water conservation practices to fight growing land degradation, farming systems analysis (in particular crop-tree-livestock productivity) and studying postharvest processing opportunities to increase crop attractiveness/demand.
In addition to nutritious grains, legumes and dryland cereals can generate other benefits. Some sorghum varieties are used as food-feed crop (stalks and foliage are good fodder for livestock) or for the brewing industry. With Africa Harvest as a partner, the multi-use sorghum project works with farmers to explore various opportunities in the sorghum value chain.
Adoption a new technology such as improved varieties is not a straightforward process and depends on various social interactions between farmers and other actors along the crop value chain. A better understanding of the role of social networks can help identify the main adoption constraints.
Improving nutrition: The McKnight-funded Groundnut Varieties Improvement for Yield and Adaptation, Human Health, and Nutrition project looks at boosting the production and consumption of nutritious groundnut through the dissemination of high-yielding adapted varieties and fighting aflatoxin contamination. Analysis of samples showed high levels of contamination (over 70%) from this deadly food toxin. Finger millet, a dryland cereal rich in essential micronutrients like zinc and calcium, is being grown in increasing quantities thanks to the release of improved varieties showing an average 40% yield increase compared to local ones.
Agricultural research is also gender-specific, as farming constraints differ for men and women. For instance, variety traits differ from men to women. For pigeonpea, most men preferred varieties with high grain yield and large seed size with marketability, while women considered traits suitable for home consumption and green grain in pigeonpea sales. [Ref: Enhancing productivity of groundnut and pigeonpea cropping systems in Tanzania and Uganda, IFAD]
ICRISAT develops strategic partnerships to help deliver innovations to smallholder farmers, starting with the main research institutions in Tanzania like the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute and Sokoine University of Agriculture.
Key documents on Tanzania