By Correspondent Michael Sikapundwa
Implemented by African wildlife Foundation (AWF), the three-year project worth 600m/- project is funded by the Germany government.
The project is working to train farmers with modern agriculture methods and tools so as to transform lives and free them from poverty trap.
Project manager Alexander Mpwaga told this reporter recently that 825 farmers have benefited from the project, whereby 500 are cocoa farmers and 325 rice growers.
He said that the goal of the project is to increase the income of the smallholders by providing support on better cultivation techniques and new marketing opportunities to increase the profit from the sale of rice and cocoa.
“The intention is to help to further a number of small businesses in the economy and also prevent the expansion of agriculture fields into nature conservation areas thereby avoiding human-wildlife conflicts.”
He named the villages as Namwala, Kisegese, Mopa, Chita, Mngeta, Igima, Mchombe, Ikule, Ihenga, Ngajengwa, Nyage and Udagaji.
According to him, the secret of success resulted by application of skills and good agriculture practices (GAPs) including use solar dry facilities, applied experts an advice at caring coco nurseries as well as rice demo plots.
“Before 2017, smallholder farmers were engaging in agriculture but earning nothing. But after being trained on better ways, they are now harvesting 3.5 tonnes per acre from the previous 1.8 tonnes of rice. Our hope to see that by 2020 a farmer harvests 4.5 tonnes per acre,” he said.
For his part, one of beneficiaries Plasius Mwampinzi , commended AWF for implementing the project as it has transformed lives of a number of vulnerable farmers in the district.
Mwampinzi added that, out of Cocoa and Rice, there are other development projects in Kilombero such as cane and beekeeping projects whose profits are seen in every member of the community.