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Maize is an important crop in Tanzania, and accounts for over 45 percent of the total cultivated area and 75 percent of all cereal production. Between 2000 and 2010 the area of land under maize cultivation in Tanzania increased by 54 %. However, maize yields remain low – at an average of about 1.2 t/ha for the period 2000 and 2010.
Agriculture is the backbone of Tanzania’s economy, accounting for about one-third of the gross domestic product (GDP), 85% of all exports and provides livelihoods to over 80 % of the total population (Suleiman and Rosentrater 2015).
Food insecurity remains the major challenge in Tanzania. About 15% of the rural household are food insecure (Jana et al. 2014). However, some regions in the country are more vulnerable to food insecurity than others. Most of these regions are located in semi-arid areas characterized by drought and unreliable rainfall (tanzanian_food_security_and_health.html)
The major risks faced by smallholder farmers are related to climate change (drought, excessive rainfall), outbreak of diseases and pests, and lack of access to improved technologies. It is expected that extreme drought and floods will become more frequent, intense and unpredictable in future (Mbilinyi et al., 2013). It is estimated that by 2050, yields of maize, sorghum, and rice will be reduced by 13%, 8.8% and 7.6% respectively due to climate change (Rowhani et al., 2011). Market risks faced include lack of market access for both inputs and outputs, price volatility and unreliable markets for agricultural goods. Financial risks include increased input costs and lack of adequate cash or credit. This calls for adoption of climate smart agriculture with emphasis on sustainable intensification on the cropping system.
SIMLESA established on-farm exploratory trials and on station long-term trials to test and scale out promising technologies across different agro-ecologies. Best bet CASI practices were selected based on research results and farmers preferences and scaled out through a competitive grant scheme (CGS) in which private seed company, NGO’s and Farmers networks.
In this section we report on the key cross-cutting finding from SIMLESA research that have emerged across thematic areas of research. Details on research findings can be found in the SIMLESA Malawi Country Reports. The larger questions that SIMLESA sought to answer both in Malawi and other countries were as follows:
Direct beneficiaries reached through SIMLESA support : 102,856
Innovation Platforms: 10
Farmers reached: 9843
Researchers trained 651
Adoption target: 130,708
|Area under dedicated for maize (millions)||3.0|
|Production per ha (tonnes)||1.2|
SIMLESA Tanzania covered 5 districts namely Karatu, Mbulu, Kilosa, Mvomero and Gairo. During phase 2 the work was extended to spill over districts namely Arumeru, Babati, Morogoro rural, and Hai. The sites were carefully selected to provide a contrast in agro-ecological conditions as well as the intensity of integration between crop and livestock production. The intensity of crop-livestock integration was important as it defines nutrient availability especially where farmers cannot afford mineral fertilisers, but also provides important case studies on the competition for crop residue uses between soil cover and animal feed. The sites ranged from very low altitude of 400 m.a.s.l to as high as 2000 m.a.s.l.