May 20th and 21st 2014 was a learning day for farmers of Hombolo ward in Dodoma municipality, Tanzania. ABCIC in collaboration with Bioversity International organized two farmers’ field days in two villages, the events were attended by participants composed of researchers from ABCIC, Bioversity International, ARI Hombolo; officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives-Tanzania; local administration; local policy makers; and farmer representatives from Hombolo, Tanzania.
The farmers’ field days provided farmers and researchers the opportunity to interact and to showcase crop varieties that farmers can add into their mixture to make their varietal portfolio less vulnerable to climate risk. Participants attending the field days visited two of the four on-farm trial plots of Cowpea (20 varieties) and Sorghum (20 varieties) in Hombolo ward. A participatory variety selection (PVS) was also conducted to select sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) lines that possess farmer’s preferred traits. Sorghum remains the third most important cereal in Tanzania and it’s the main cereal grown in the dry parts of the country.
The farmers of Hombolo grow a variety of crops including sorghum, pearl millet, sunflower and maize. Climate change has affected agricultural activities in this area with crop performance impacted by low rainfall, rainfall variability, increased temperatures and low soil fertility. Moreover, lack of access to markets, lack of access to seeds and poor agronomic activities are some of the problems affecting the community in this area. During the field day, farmers had the opportunity to share their experiences with researchers and other farmers from across Hombolo ward.
“Farmers should not despise varieties and die of hunger yet they can plant and harvest the same varieties and then sell and buy other food crops such as rice and potatoes,” said Edith Luhamo, Agricultural Officer, Dodoma Municipality. The farmers assured the project team that they are willing to take up the best performing varieties based on their preferred traits and that they will share the seeds with other farmers in the area.
The field day ended with a discussion whereby farmers shared lessons learned during the field day and their expectations for future collaboration with ABCIC and its partners. “Farmers should adapt to climate change now to curb themselves from the effects later,” said Adam Kitwera, Agricultural Extension Officer, Mkoyo village.
The activity has been undertaken as part of the Varietal diversification to manage climate risk in East Africa project
More pictures: see our Flickr album