Community Inspired by Demo Plots
The 94 farmers trained so far in this new program said that what convinced them to sign up for conservation agriculture (CA) training was seeing the healthy green sorghum and beans in the program’s demonstration plots. The program conducted an awareness campaign prior to training by setting up demo plots in the villages.
When farmers were invited to compare the CA plots with neighboring fields, the sorghum was tall and about ready to tassel, and the lablab beans used as a cover crop to retain moisture and fix nitrogen in the soil were green and healthy-looking. It was easy to see at a glance that the CA crops were in much better shape, so the farmers wanted to learn how to replicate those results.
The program area was chosen because of widespread food insecurity due to low crop yields from poor soils, low rainfall, and insect damage after harvest. The first group of 94 farmers has been trained in such CA practices as minimum tillage, intercropping, crop rotation, cover crops and mulching, all of which improve the soil and retain moisture. They are planning to use CA on their home plots at the start of the coming rainy season, and will receive further training on airtight grain storage and growing vegetables in their yards. The vegetables will supply much-needed food and increase nutritional diversity during the dry season when food is scarce.
Future training sessions will focus on establishing clean sources of drinking water and small- scale irrigation options for watering the kitchen gardens.
Caption: Farmers Daniel and Grace pose by a demo plot of very healthy sorghum
Tanzania Chamwino Program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT)
Story based on a report by Musa Chilemu. Photo by Lister Nyang’anyi.