Farmers’ testimonies: More maize, more cassava for improved livelihood


Mr. Linus Dominico, a resident of Nyakitonto Village in Kasulu District, who cultivates cassava, is experiencing bumper harvest, he has never seen in his lifetime.

Mr. Suleiman Rumeya,  cultivates maize in Msebehi village, Uvinza District.  He says he has engaged himself in agriculture for the most part of his life, but what he has learned from the Kilimo PiATA Tija Tanzania has brought him immense, positive changes. “Productivity has gone up, last year I managed to produce 10 extra bags of maize for sale,” he says.

“Kilimo PiATA Tija Tanzania” is an agricultural productivity project,  which is being implemented for the benefit of 300 villages by five organizations in Kigoma Region, with the financial assistance from the   Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Small scale maize and cassava farmer, Mr. Moshi Hiiza, from Kanazi village in Kasulu District,  is also having the same joyful experience. 

The trio lives hundreds of kilometers apart but they have a thing or two in common.  After adopting new crop varieties and good husbandry methods each for his farm/s they are experiencing a bumper harvest in the current harvest season (March/April 2019).

Each one of them, like hundreds of other villagers, after training and support offered by Kilimo PiATA Tija Tanzania, they decided to follow the expert knowledge and support offered in the project.

The training included preparation of respective farms, use of improved seeds and fertilizers.  For Mr. Hiiza his two farms – one for Maize and the other for cassava are very outstanding in the village. The village authorities are using his 1-acre plot for cassava, and a ¼ piece of maize farm as semi-demonstration farms, where other villages learn. About 100 farmers learn from it.  He has another maize farm he has planted about three-quarter of an acre.  He is also the secretary of a farmers group called “Jikongoje.”

At one point some of the villagers not involved in the project were uprooting his cassava trees, to go and plant in their farms, after seeing the good outcome.  It was in such backdrop, the village authorities chose him to be one of the exemplary villagers to advice and share his knowledge with other farmers on how they can also bring about positive production on their land instead of stealing Cassava tubes from other people’s successful farms.

From his great grandfather, his granddad and his father, they all used to be great cassava farmers.  From the time he finished school, in 1986, he became a farmer, just like his ancestors. In 2000, he started planting maize using recommended spacing between rows but still using traditional shared seeds.  He confesses that is only from last year, he started getting best ever harvest, after using new seed varieties and fertilizers. 

 His family heritage for ages were cassava farmers. Sadly, he leaves it after, all his crops and villagers were attacked by pest resistant diseases.  All the villagers stopped farming the crop, until, a new variety was brought to the villagers with the support of AGRA.  Just the harvest he made last year, he was able to add an extension in his house, after selling extra cassava he had produced.

Mama Mary Tunungu, the treasurer of “Jikongoje,” group noted the project also taught them to be more organised- so as to buy inputs and access market together for shared benefits. They have succeeded in purchasing some inputs together, for markets they have a long way to go, many villagers want to sell on their own. 

Initially, the Ministry of Agriculture Training Institute – MATI – Mubondo, Kigoma, provided land to the villagers to undertake the first demo farms for both maize and cassava, with the support of one of the partners financed by AGRA, Nyakitonto Youth For Development Tanzania (NYDT).  After they were hugely successful the villagers started adopting the new seeds varieties and practicing good husbandry. 

Majority of interviewed villagers expect their region to increase twice the production of cereals following implementation Kilimo PiATA Tija. Interviewed smallholder farmers who underwent training and empowerment in agricultural productivity expressed the joy of learning and modern agriculture, that is more productive.  This is against the background of experiencing years of peasant farming, which was less productive.

Talking on the implementation of the project, the Agriculture Officer of Kasulu District, Mr. Faidaya Misango, says the current agricultural revolution taking thanks to the project among other efforts, is a step in the right direction for the overall development of the region.

Misango says district councils are facing a huge shortage of agriculture extension experts, hence smallholder farmers who are  trained known as VBA’s-(Village Based Advisors) and they in turn train other farmers are vital for the empowerment of farmers who have to become more productive for food security and increased incomes. The project started in September 2017 and will go on till August 2020.