Agriculture in the country largely depends on rainfall which is increasingly becoming unpredictable and unreliable with worsening climate change impacts.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian recently during agriculture and food resilience study tour to Lushoto and Muheza districts’ smallholder farmers a researcher from TARI-Selian, Department of Resource, specialised on climate change, George Sayula has called upon smallholder farmers across the country to understand that climate change was real, and was here to stay.
He therefore, called upon smallholder farmers to apply all recommended agricultural modern technologies at their exposure to enable them become more productive, sustainable and resilient for climate change…
Tanzanian farmers are being faced by declining rainfall, frequent droughts, natural disasters like floods, crop diseases and pests.
The study tour to those farmers was organised by the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) in collaboration with the University of Leeds (UK) and the Food, Agriculture and Natural Research Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), from South Africa.
Sayula said that they were implementing a four year AFRICAP Project, funded by the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which is being implemented in four African countries, namely Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.
He further noted that, the project has aimed at supporting agriculture and food systems is sub Saharan Africa to become more productive, sustainable and resilient for climate change…
“In Tanzania AFRICAP project is being implemented in Tanga Region. It supports the implementation of the second phase of Tanzania’s agricultural sector development programme (ASDPII),” he noted.
According to Sayula, climate smart agricultural techniques promoted to small scale farmers in the selected two districts in Tanga was leading to increased income and reduced vulnerability to climate change.
He said that the objective of the integrated approach for climate change adaptation in the East Usambara Mts, in Muheza District, Tanga Region, among others was to demonstrate effective and efficient strategies that support poor, rural households in Tanzania to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change and to alleviate poverty.
And the specific objective was to support the eight communities living near to high biodiversity forests in the East Usambara Mountains to increase and diversify incomes, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change-related impacts.
Smallholder farmers were also taught the use of pest and diseases tolerant varieties, use of early maturing and drought tolerant crops.
They were also taught good farming practices, which include how to plant, weeding, pests and diseases control, harvesting, processing, and better way of storages after post harvesting their produce.
And marketing chains of their spices and food crops. For his part, a farmer from Amani Village in Muheza District, Thobias Fungo commended ESRF and other donors for supporting and empowering them with the knowledge on climate smart agricultural techniques that has caused them to be more productive sustainable and resilient for climate change.
He said that before the introduction of this project, in one acre he was only harvesting three sacks of maize weighing 100 kilogrammes.
But after the introduction of the project, they were now harvesting 15 bags of maize weighing the same measures.
Fungo said that farmers in their area were not using industrial fertilisers and insecticides, but instead they were using cow dung, and local insecticides to kill harmful insects attacking their crops.
He has advised other smallholder farmers across the country to follow good farming practices, which include planting improved seed varieties (for maize, beans and spice crops), soil and water conservation practices, diversification of crops (food and cash), improved gronomic practices like crop spacing and planting dates, and agroforestry, for them to get abundant productivity.
However, Fungo said that despite all those positive achievements, lack of enough agriculture extension officers has remained a major challenge that should be addressed by the government.
Other findings have shown that in 2017 the Tanzanian government in collaboration with development partners and the private sector launched the National Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Guidelines.
That standard-setting document meant to address challenges and impacts of climate change on agriculture to ensure food and nutrition security in the country.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Charles Tizeba, the then Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries said that there were several efforts made at different levels in the country to build resilience to the impacts of climate change and that the guidelines were meant to boost the drive.
“Along with other efforts and based on agro-ecological zones existing in Tanzania, it still seemed important for the nation to have a designated Guideline on Climate Smart Agriculture,” he said.
“It aims to guide agriculture sector and stakeholders on the identification of practices and technologies suitable for successful climate smart agriculture implementation,” he added.
The Minister said that the guideline would also be used in the identification of strategies for up-scaling and to allow development of programmes and plans for its successful adoption by farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate.
CSA aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible.
CSA is an approach for developing agricultural strategies to secure sustainable food security under climate change.
CSA provides the means to help stakeholders from local to national and international levels identify agricultural strategies suitable to their local conditions.
It is in line with FAO’s vision for Sustainable Food and Agriculture and supports FAO’s goal to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and more sustainable.