Record Yield in a Dry Year
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TIAMOYO EMPOWER PROJECT UPDATE OCTOBER 2017
One of our farmers in Upper Kiteti harvested 2.2 tons per acre in a
difficult season. The record for the district is something under 2 tons,
and of course that would have been in a good season.
Most of the local farmers yield was less than 1 ton per acre this year.
So as you can imagine, there is quite some interest in what we are
doing to improve the farmers yields and profits.
Low-till(Conservation Agriculture) conserves the water and improves
the soil, and with good seed varieties and fertiliser, the farmers can
see good returns, even in difficult conditions.
It was so good to meet up with our team. L-R below....
Marko is our manager and has being doing a great job/
Mike is our advisor and has been a huge help and inspiration.
Jonès is our Coordinator and is an invaluable asset to our project. He is my connection to everything, (not knowing the language).
He has his own small farm, and is a good mechanic, and good at problem solving and a whole lot more.
Here is our local team. They have been learning how to maintain the planters and sprayers. These guys are the 'real deal' and a joy to work with.
MAINTENANCE and TRAINING
We spent two and a half weeks in all working on our machines and training our guys in maintenance and repairs and setting up the machines for different situations. They can plant a variety of crops, so far they have been used for Maize, Beans and Pigeon Peas.
January this year was our first time to use the planters and they went really well. We tried a few different things, most of them worked, but we had to make a few minor changes. One was our press wheels that push down the soil on top of the seed at back of the machines. They looked strong, but they came with a plastic centre bush, which turned out to be a spectacular fail, so we machined steel bushes to replace them.
Jones is fitting the new press wheels
Augustino learning to use the lathe
Here is Samuel in the workshop at Upper Kitteti
Jonès and Pascal are servicing one of the boom sprayer pumps
Dawar farmers keen despite drought
Dawar village had a very bad drought. I had thought the farmers may be a bit discouraged and wanting to pull out of our program. I would have understood! How wrong I was. They were so impressed with the way their crops grew, they said they grew fast and tall and even when the rain did not come they kept on growing when all the crops around were dead already! Unfortunately there was no rain at all to finish the crops off, so they failed as well.
Marko had planted 30 acres out there to raise money for the project and it looked so good it attracted a lot of interest, but with no follow up rain at all it really struggled and in the end only yielded 0.5 tons per acre.
Not too bad though when all the surrounding crops were a wipe out.
It still yielded above the national average, in a really bad drought!
Farmer Committee Meeting
We are working with 20 farmers in Dawar and this is the committee representing them. They are mainly pastors and the chairman Daniel is also the village chairman. The integration of leaders and the farmers groups are essential for keeping the group focussed through difficult times. We have seen the importance of this in the last few months.
Trees predict the rain
It was interesting to hear Daniel, the local pastor and village chairman, telling us that there is a variety of tree growing there that only flowers when good rains are coming. It didn’t flower last year, so they were expecting a bad year, but his year it is flowering strongly. Everyone is hopeful for better things.
We will be again working with the farmers in Upper Kiteti and Dawar villages and will be planting well over 100 acres in total. It is still early days for us, everyone is on a steep learning curve, and they are so keen and hard working, and have kept it together in a tough year. It gives us encouragement for the future.
Tanzanian Board Meeting
We had a great meeting with our local committee and spent time planning for the next season.
Tribute to Mike and Lyndall
This amazing couple have served faithfully and effectively in Tanzania for the last 23 years. They are into a new phase in their lives where they will be spending less time in Africa and being based in New Zealand. They leave behind a lot of fruit from their ministry in Africa. Our project is working with the leaders they have mentored and encouraged to work together to lead their communities into a brighter future.
Need for crop inputs
There are more farmers asking to be part of the program, but we don’t have the budget for them. The biggest hindrance for local farmers improving their practises is the initial cost of the crop inputs (seed and fertiliser costs around $85 per acre). If anyone is able to help some of these guys, please contact us ASAP. Planting starts in November through to March for different crops and locations.