Farmers: 80% of clove seedlings die

Putting farmers at the center and utilizing valuable local resources is strengthening the country its food sovereignty and hence increases its resilience. Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) is supporting these endeavors.

Since 2014 the organization is linking farmers with student researchers from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) through the Workshop for Participatory Research Design (WPRD). This year, 10 researches were done in five villages based in Morogoro and Mvomero Districts, Morogoro region. 10 Bachelor students were conducting their special project researches in collaboration with farmers and pastoralists, working on their problems. 4 Master students will join in August to further research in finding solutions to farmers’ problems

Kisoko Daniel attended the 4th annual Workshop for Participatory Research Design (WPRD) organized by SAT in December last year where farmers presented problems in crop production and livestock keeping experienced in the field and the student researchers together with their supervisors worked with the farmers to come up with research topics and developed proposals to do the research with SAT.

One of the researches this year aimed at addressing the death of clove seedlings in Tanzania. The third-year SUA student in B.Sc. Horticulture Kisoko Daniel assessed the situation in Mfumbwe village in Morogoro rural district where the problem seems to be critical, as over 80% of clove seedlings are reported to die per year.

Specific objectives of his study were to screen seedling preparation methods, to evaluate the effect of rooting media based on different mixing ratios and seedling transplanting stages on seedling survival rates, and to determine the cost benefit analysis of the seedling preparation and nursery management practices.

In this research, which is still in progress with maximum farmers’ participation, he had a general objective of improving clove seedling survival through improved nursery propagation techniques.

Kisoko collected 1,200 seeds of cloves from farmers. The seeds were partitioned in three treatments with two replications:

  1. Seeds were soaked for 3 days and then the seed coat was removed (soaked-hulled).
  2. Seeds were soaked for 3 days, but the seed coat was not removed (soaked-unhulled).
  3. Seeds were neither soaked nor had the seed coat removed (unsoaked-unhulled).

They were sown on two different seedbeds (blocks) as primary nursery made by sands, covered by transparent plastic sheets.

At the open primary nursery, seeds started to germinate/emerge 26 days after sowing. The germination percentage was 85%, 16% and 12% of soaked-hulled, soaked-unhulled and unsoaked-unhulled seeds respectively. Soaked-hulled seeds formed 2 leaves and 4 leaves at 35 and 48 days respectively after sowing, while the others showed neither 2 nor 4 leaves within that time.

Results from the covered seeds

At the plastic sheet covered nursery, seeds germinated/emerged 17 days after sowing, the germination percentage was 87%, 17% and 13% of soaked-hulled seeds, soaked-unhulled seeds and unsoaked-unhulled seeds respectively. The soaked-hulled seeds formed 2 leaves and 4 leaves 27 and 39 days after sowing.

Kisoko says “We have set up another experiment in which we are testing the 3 transplanting stages (two, four and eight leaves stage). We want to observe which one will perform well and recommend it to farmers”. He has achieved about 90% of research objectives. He got very nice results which he hopes will be very useful for the farmers for clove seedlings production.

What do farmers say?

Farmers hope that one day the problem will be solved. Azizi Omary from Mfumbwe village where they experienced the problem says, “Thank you SAT for coordinating this research, we hope our challenges to be solved”.

Bakari Said from the same village indicated that if researchers and experts visit farms more often, it will help to solve many challenges farmers are facing.

Words from the research supervisor

Dr. Ramadhani Majubwa (right), a lecturer from SUA who supervises the research, encourages farmers by saying that he will work together with SAT and students to get clear answers to why seedlings die and recommend the findings to farmers..