McKnight Foundation’s agro-ecology project boost food production

09Oct 2018
Beatrice Philemon
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
McKnight Foundation’s agro-ecology project boost food production

AN agro-ecological farming system which utilizes traditional pesticides has enabled smallholder farmers in Singida region boost production, improve soil fertility while raising household incomes.

Researchers from Canada, Malawi, Uganda and USA listening to farmers on how traditional pesticides helped them control pests in farms under the SNAP. Photo: Beatrice Philemon.

\ActionAid Tanzania’s Livelihoods and Local Right Program Manager, Elias Mtinda said under Singida Nutrition and Agro-ecology Project (SNAP) with funding from US based McKnight Foundation, smallholder farmers in Singida region are better off with assured food security.

“McKnight Foundation donated U$ 224,000 to ActionAid Tanzania for the implementation of the project which has changed lives for better but also protect the environment,”  Mtinda said while pointing out that main goals of the project were to promote agro-ecology, gender equality, promote food security and enhance women’s role at household and community level.

He under the project, smallholder farmers in the region were trained on how to employ agro-ecological practices in their farming activities by experts during the five year period.

The farmers were also trained on how to make traditional pesticides to control pests from destroying their crops while practicing intercropping with legumes planted with other crops to add nutrients to the soil.

“We give them legume seeds such as Pigeon peas , cowpeas, ground nuts, beans and soy beans so that  can intercrop with other crops such as maize to improve soil fertility and increase yields hence improving incomes and food security,” Mtinda noted.

The farmers were also trained in legumes processing and utilization as sources of vital nutrients for children and the elderly.

“Right now nutrition status of children in Singida region has greatly improved due to legume enriched diets,” the Program Manager noted.  The agro-ecology project has also allowed smallholder farmers to refrain from using artificial pesticides hence reduce production costs.

Women farmers are now aware of their rights, roles and responsibilities at family level especially in ensuring that their contribution is recognized.

One of the beneficiaries of the project, Johari  Kimi from Kibaoni village in Singida district expressed  appreciation to the sponsors and experts who built their capacity to become efficient and focused farmers.

“This project has not only improved our incomes at household level but also boosted yields while protecting the environment,” Kimi noted. She acknowledged receiving very important skills and knowledge on agro-ecology from ActionAid Tanzania experts.

“But this project also sensitized us on gender equality, broadened skill on how to generate income through processing legumes and utilize them at household level,” she added.

According to McKnight Foundation, the project in Singida was aimed at peer mentoring farmers on agro-ecological farming practices, improved infant and young child feeding practices, and gender equality. Expected outcomes include: improved agricultural output, especially legume yields, household food security, and infant diet.