Hope rises as Japan rice project triples harvests

17Aug 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Hope rises as Japan rice project triples harvests

A RICE development project that uses modern farming methods has helped farmers increase harvests from less than two tonnes per hector to six and even eight tonnes.

Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania Shinichi Goto listens to Rukia Makeetta the Head of Crop Production department at KATC during a visit to Rice demonstrations farms at the centre earlier this week.

Supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Tanrice project implemented in the Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme involves developing training packages on irrigated and upland rice cultivation.

Speaking during the press tour of Japanese funded projects, Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center (KATC) principal, Nicodemus Shauritanga said through JICA the centre has been conducting a series of training sessions for extension officers and farmers on rice farming on irrigated land as well as in rain-fed conditions, covering 90 irrigation schemes and 77 rain-fed areas.

He said JICA’s support for the irrigation facility development and its operation and maintenance have contributed to boosting rice production in the country.

“Together with improvement of infrastructure, capacity building in irrigation management plays a significant role in promoting rice industry development in various regions,” he said.

Through the project farmers have learned things like irrigation scheme management, gender roles in agriculture and agro-processing, crop marketing and handling agricultural machinery.

These technologies and skills resulted in about 40percent increase in rice production for irrigated plots, 50-percent increase for rain fed lowland areas and 140percent increase under rain fed upland conditions, he elaborated.

The training programs are organized by KATC and Ministry of Agriculture Training Institutes (MATIs) at Igurusi, Ilonga, Mtwara, Tumbi, Ukiliguru and Kizimbani Agricultural Training Institute (KATI) in Zanzibar.

Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that rice production in Tanzania has increased about 13 times in 40 years, from 223,000 tonnes in 1974 to 2,871,963 tonnes in 2017.

Japan places emphasis on agriculture development in Africa through various initiatives, including the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), aiming at supporting efforts of African countries to double rice production in ten years.

JICA’s series of cooperation projects started with the Kilimanjaro Region Agricultural Development Project in 1974. It was followed by the development of Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme and the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Development Center, currently the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center (KATC).