Over 60,000 farmers to benefit with free soil testing

13May 2022
Joseph Mchekadona
The Guardian
Over 60,000 farmers to benefit with free soil testing

MORE than 60,000 farmers from northern, southern and western parts of the country are expected to benefit from OCP School Lab campaign which includes training on good agricultural practices.

The campaign will by the end of this year run through 600 villages, reaching over 60,000 farmers.

Speaking recently in Songea, Ruvuma Region during the launch of the third phase of the programme, Mshindo Msolla, OCP Country Manager said they are implementing it in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government and other partners like Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI).

He said the project will also provide fertiliser recommendations to 12, 000, farmers who will represent others. He said farmers will be assisted and trained on how to use the latest soil analysis and technology which uses simple infrared scanning that produces same day soil test results.

In each village, over 100 farmers will be educated and empowered with best agricultural practices to increase production of crops per acreage, he said, adding a minimum of 10,000 farmers will benefit from the initiative.

“Together with the government we have created a regional drive to measure soil quality in over 100 villages in Ruvuma Region. We aim to support farmers with the knowledge on soil quality at no cost,” said Msolla.

Results will be shared with extension officers from the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) advising them on what to do to ensure they get enough yields.

OCP Tanzania is capitalizing from the previous experiences of the first and second roll out of OCP School Lab in 2019 and 2021 which was done in regions of Njombe, Songwe, Rukwa, Iranga and Morogoro.

He said the Soil analysis results in these regions revealed that, apart from phosphorus and nitrogen deficiencies which have been addressed for many years, potassium, Sulphur, Boron and Zinc were also limiting.

They suggested that for a farmer to get the expected yield, they need to use fertilisers which will supply the deficient nutrients. Furthermore, most soils were acidic, this calling for the use of agriculture lime.

After Ruvuma, the campaign will be launched in Katavi, Kigoma, Manyara, Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions. It will be implemented in partnership with experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (Uyole Center).

Msolla said OCP Tanzania  provides farmers with one on one advice on interventions and crop nutrition recommendations for maize, rice, potatoes, soya beans, sugarcane, wheat, common beans, coffee, sesame and sunflower crop to improve their farming practices and enhance yields.

Since 2017, more than 430,000 farmers in 8 African countries have benefited from OCP School Labs, namely in Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Tanzania.