Inorganic fertilizers have a bad name in Babati (Tanzania) and are accused of ruining soils. Dispelling this myth and urging farmers to use them to boost their production was one of the key messages at a Farmers’ Field Day held in Babati District, 21 – 22 May 2014.
The guest of honour at the event Hon. Cade Mshamu, Babati District’s Administrative Secretary, appreciated all the efforts by the researchers and partners of the Africa RISING program and encouraged farmers to make the best use of new technologies being demonstrated.

Cade Mshamu, the Babati district's administrative secretary speaks to a farmer, taking part in the project's demonstrations, and his family
Cade Mshamu, Babati district’s administrative secretary speaks to a farmer and his family

He especially urged the farmers to stop holding on to their misguided belief that using fertilizers destroys soils and makes them unproductive.
“We have seen and heard from farmers in Seleto who have used the fertilizer as recommended by the project and have increased their yield to 5.2 tons of maize compared to only 2 tons by those who did not use fertilizer,” he said. “Therefore you need to disregard the myths on the use of fertilizer since they have been proven wrong by our agricultural scientists. And we have observed from the demonstration plots that fertilizer enriches the soil with nutrients and makes it more productive.”
Elizabeth Stanislaus sharing on her farming experience with the Africa RISING project
Elizabeth Stanislaus sharing on her farming experience with the Africa RISING project

Elizabeth Stanislaus, a mother of three and one of the farmers on whose farms trials to compare the new improved varieties and better farming methods are being conducted, has tested the use of fertilizer and improved seeds on a part of her farm. She reported she has seen a marked difference in the yield compared to her usual way of planting using manure only.

I have tried out one of the new improved varieties, SC 627 with Minjingu Mazo fertilizer. The yields were very good. And it was profitable.

Paulo Johackim, another farmer from Sabilo village, who has used fertilizers and improved seeds also remarked on the difference: “In January I planted one of the new improved varieties, Pioneer 532 and applied DAP (Diammonium phosphate) fertilizer. The results are impressive. I advise my fellow farmers to engage in modern farming methods.
However he also pointed out the cost implications of fertilizers. “DAP and Minjingu Mazao are more expensive and this sometimes discourages farmers from adopting them,” said Mr Paulo Johackim; “ I therefore request the government to look into the cost of the seeds and other farming resources, since the expenses are high and discouraging to most farmers.”
On the heels of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND)

Dr. MacDonald Bright Jumbo from CIMMYT, Kenya, briefed the farmers on the MLND and its symptoms.
Dr.  Jumbo explaining to farmers the MLND and its symptoms.

Arica RISING researchers are also looking into the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease, a viral disease that is caused by maize chlorotic mottled virus (MCMV) and sugarcane mosaic virus (SMV). The disease has become a threat to Seleto and Mafuta villages of Babati region. It can cause up to 100% yield loss.
During the field day Dr MacDonald Bright Jumbo from CIMMYT, Kenya, briefed the farmers on the disease and its symptoms. He said the project was conducting trials for different varieties to identify those with resistance to the diseases.
He however urged the farmers to be vigilant and to notify agricultural officers as early as possible if they detected the disease on their farms to stop it from spreading.
The participants at the event included Professor Bekunda Mateete (IITA), Dr. Lyimo Stephen (SARI) , Dr. Kotu Bekelee (IITA), Dr. MacDonald Jumbo (CIMMITY), District Officers, Extension Officers and farmers. Also present were journalists from various media houses in the country.
Story by Eveline Massam

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