Promoting sustainable agriculture to small-scale Tanzanian farmers is core to the mission of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT). One of the pillars in SAT’s foundation is to provide farmers with appropriate research-based information for sustainable agriculture. Guidance is directed towards technologies, innovations and practices that improve sustainable food security in a socially, economically and environmentally friendly manner.
To achieve this goal, SAT provides networks and funds to facilitate agricultural-based research and the subsequent dissemination and application of the findings. SAT has been in collaboration with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in the development of an annual Workshop for Participatory Research Design (WPRD) to provide a forum for students, professors and farmers to discuss research needs.
The third annual WPRD was held on November 12, 2016 at the SUA campus. WRPD provides the platform for young researchers from SUA, research supervisors and organic farmers from Morogoro Region to come together. The Workshop fleshes out topics which have been brought by farmers and students which will be the foundation of research proposals addressed through action-based investigations.
After welcoming remarks to faculty, students and farmers by SAT Director Janet Maro and conference organizer, Alex Wostry, the Guest Speaker Dr. Chenyambuga, Deputy Principal from the Colllege of Agriculture at SUA spoke to the audience of more than 260 participants about the benefits of the forum for development of relevant technical information for agriculturalists in Tanzania. SAT S Intern and 2015 student researcher, Johnson Mwakyusa then took the podium to present his research methodologies and findings on mulch and vegetable production, answering many questions from the audience.
Dr. Kyaruzi lectured on the design and benefits of participatory action research. The engaged audience, moderated by Mr. Nyamba with assistance from Mr. Mapunda were able to ask insightful questions of both researcher and the local farmers attending the forum. SUA Professor Catherina Msuya-Bengesi, head of the Department of Extension and Community Development along with other lecturer are very supportive of the WPRD platform and outcomes for helping guide future extension outreach activities. They understand that this demand-driven research can directly benefits Tanzania’s small-scale farmers.
Farmers from the villages of Kinole, Nzawa, Mikese, Mkuyuni and Kibuko presented their needs and challenges to the workshop audience. The main topics discussed were soil condition and maintenance, seed, pest and other crop issues, along with marketing. Following lunch, students and faculty broke into six small groups to work more in depth on each of the topics. From these group discussion came possible solutions and design research questions.
Students are now invited to submit research concept notes which are based on the research questions identified and developed at the WPRD. Five students will be chosen and supported with a research grant (TZS 1,100,000). Matching funds will also be provided for the lecturers guiding the students through their research projects; this will be the final project for the bachelor students.
SAT will continue disseminating these relevant and valuable findings to their extensive network of over 70 farmer groups, which includes over 2000 members. Research summaries from the six students selected in 2015, focusing on mulching, composting and leguminous crops will also be presented at the 2016 Agricultural Forum to be held in early December in Morogoro.