AfricaRice / AVRDC / HUMIDTROPICS / IITA / Intensification / Rice / Southern Africa / Tanzania / Weeds

Creating awareness in Tanzania on labour-saving technologies for weed control in rice

A farmer testing a mechanical weeder introduced under the activities of this project

A farmer testing a mechanical weeder introduced under the activities of the Africa RISING project

Weeds are one of the major constraints to rice production in sub-Saharan Africa. Without control, they cause yield losses ranging from 28% to 89%.  One major contributing factor to these losses is the lack of knowledge and information on labour-saving weed control and management technologies among farmers and extension workers.

A jumpstart project on ‘Building local capacities in weed management for rice-based systems  led by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) sought to remedy this by creating awareness on available and appropriate labour-saving and efficient weed management practices to boost the crop’s production. It targeted research and development (R&D) partners, the private sector and farmers involved in rice-based production systems in Tanzania.

R&D professionals and students

The project conducted a one-day training at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania, for 22 R&D professionals and 15 weed science students on weed control and management practices and on the use of an online interactive weed identification tool known as AFROweeds.

The workshop also aimed at enhancing networking between national and regional weed scientists by introducing the open-access online African weed science network ‘Weedsbook’. This network includes researchers from international and national research organizations, government extension officers, university lecturers and students.

‘Weed is the number one constraint in rice production in many countries in Africa and awareness on sustainable and cost-effective ways to control them in rice-based systems is low. In this project, we wanted to not only build capacity but also enhance the network of weed scientists and other people interested in weeds for easy knowledge and information sharing among each other,’ said Jonne Rodenburg, a weed scientist at AfricaRice and the research team leader.

Fabricators of mechanical weeders

The project further organized a training for blacksmiths drawn from all over the country on fabrication of rotary weeders to control weeds of lowland rice with the aim of making them widely available at competitive prices for the farmers. Currently, farmers rely on hand or hoe weeding and both are extremely time- and energy-consuming. The rotary weeders are hand-operated devices that can be easily manufactured by local blacksmiths using locally available materials. They are very popular in Asian countries but in Africa, they are only found in Madagascar.

Three new types of weeders were fabricated during the workshop and two were selected for promotion in the country after subjecting them to further on-farm testing with the farmers.

‘We wanted to build local capacities to manufacture locally adapted rotary weeders for resource-poor farmers in Tanzania. We showed the diversity of mechanical weeders and that they can be adjusted to suit local conditions or preferences of the end-user  (farmer),’ Rodenburg said.

Farmer-to-farmer video

Capturing farmers hand-weeding while filming the farmer-to-farmers videos on labor-saving weed management technologies

Capturing farmers hand-weeding while filming the farmer-to-farmers videos on labour-saving weed management technologies

The project has also developed two farmer-to-farmer videos on labour-saving weed management technologies—the rotary-hoe weeder in lowland rice and safe and efficient use of herbicides.

‘Rotary-hoe weeders, reduce the weeding labour by between 60─65% while the herbicides reduce it by over 80%. However, farmers do not always use the herbicides correctly and this can impact negatively on their health and the environment, hence the need for the videos,’ said Rodenburg.

The videos will be translated into four languages and distributed to at least 10,000 farmers and extension workers from the rice-growing areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

Partners

Partners in this project are AfricaRice, Sokoine University of Agriculture, University of Dar es Salaam, Intermech Engineering Ltd, NAFAKA (ACDI-VOCA project on Tanzania Staples Value Chain), Kilombero Agricultural Training and Research Institute, Mbeya Agricultural Training Institute (MATI-Igurusi), Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Centre, Centre for Agricultural Mechanization and Rural Technology (CAMARTEC), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the World Vegetable Center.

Written by Jonne Rodenburg (AfricaRice).

One thought on “Creating awareness in Tanzania on labour-saving technologies for weed control in rice

  1. Weeding using hoes is back-breaking work and takes so much time, including that of children who may even be made to stay away from school to help in the fields. I myself used to do some hoe weeding BEFORE going to school and during weekends. That meant less time for playing and for homework. Therefore I appreciate the advance of the rotary weeder. Please keep up the good work.

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