“Reduces work load” is the most common comment that the farmers mention when asked about their first experiences of conservation agriculture. Lindi and Mtwara Agribusiness Support project LIMAS has introduced the method in Newala and Liwale districts, where over 100 farmer groups with around 1500 farmers in total are now running their trial plots experimenting the new cropping system.
LIMAS is a bilateral development project, jointly funded by the Governments of Finland and Tanzania. Its mission is to increase income generation in the targeted districts, Newala and Liwale, by exploiting viable agribusiness opportunities. The project supports adoption of Tanzanian development policies, which emphasize the role of private sector as the driving force in economic development.
The field activities of LIMAS have now started. Profitable agriculture and appropriate forest management are being addressed, as is creation of viable market linkages for commodities that can competitively be produced and processed in Lindi and Mtwara regions. The project will continue till late 2014. The project activities are managed both by District officers and private enterprises.
Promoting conservation agriculture is one of the main strategies of LIMAS to challenge low productivity. Minimum tillage, crop rotation that maintains and improves soil fertility, and efficient use of inputs are the key features of conservation agriculture. The method, by nature, also improves farming communities’ resilience to climate change, and under proper management has potential to considerably increase average yields. The method has not yet much been utilized in southern Tanzania, where most of farming is still done using hand hoes.
LIMAS also works on the development of forestry which initially focuses on the legalization of villagers´ forest user rights. Consequently the communities will be able to sustainably manage their natural resource and commit to increasing the value of forest as a source of income and improved livelihood.
Text by CTA Meeri Komulainen