In Morogoro, one of the major rice producing areas in Tanzania, the farmers use residue water from rice irrigation to grow vegetables for additional income and to improve their nutrition. They however face many challenges, which the early win research project on “Enhancing vegetable value chains in rice-based and sole crop production systems to improve household income and consumption in Morogoro” aimed at identifying, in order to suggest options to tackle them and to increase the farmers’ income and to improve their nutrition by diversifying their diets with safe vegetables.
The project, which was led by the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) carried out a baseline survey in Mvomero and Kilombero districts in Morogoro to identify the constraints in the production, marketing and consumption of tomato, pepper, and African eggplant. It also assessed the prevalent pests and diseases attacking the crops on the farms and the contamination of vegetables in the farms and in the markets by microbial, pesticide and heavy metal.
According to the Principal investigator, Victor Afari-Sefa from the World Vegetable Centre in Arusha, the study found that to boost the production of vegetables in the rice-based systems, the farmers need to have better access to quality inputs, such as seeds of improved varieties that are high-yielding and more resistant to pest and diseases, as well as fertilizers and credit facilities. They also need good information on Integrated Crop and Pest Management (ICPM) and better access to extension services.
The research also identified the need to strengthen marketing information systems to lead farmers to bigger and better markets, such as supermarket chains and processors and it found a trade cartel of middle-men who were limiting their returns. The farmers also need training on record keeping and business management skills, Afari-Sefa said.
The research interviewed 237 farmers and 28 actors along the value chain including seed and agro-dealers, vegetable collectors, wholesalers, retail traders and consumers. The study found that the greatest challenges facing traders were unpredictable markets and fluctuation prices, lack of adequate trading capital, high transportation costs and lack of business and management skills.
The project also trained staff and students of Sokoine university of Agriculture (SUA) in protocols for detecting human and plant pathogens in vegetables.
The project partners were the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Africa Rice Center, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania’s Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), Ohio State University (OSU), the District Agriculture and Livestock Development Office (DALDO) for Mvomero and Kilombero districts of Morogoro region, and the Sugarcane Research Institute (SRI) in Kibaha, Tanzania.
(Article by Catherine Njuguna)
The Africa RISING program comprises three linked research-for-development projects, funded by the USAID Feed the Future Initiative, and aiming to sustainably intensify mixed farming systems in West Africa (Southern Mali and Northern Ghana), the Ethiopian Highlands and East and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi).
To produce some short-term outputs and to support the longer term objectives of the projects, in 2012 Africa RISING funded several small, short-term projects in each of the regions. More information.