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 flood 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, lack of adequate cash or credit) Tanzania Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP II, 2015). This calls for adoption of climate smart agriculture with emphasis on sustainable intensification on the cropping system.

Strategic Approach

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:

  1. How can CASI increase farm-level food security, productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers?
  2. In what ways does CASI contribute to more resilient farming systems, protecting the natural resource base and mitigate risks in the face of climate change?
  • What are the impacts of CASI on equity and gender and how might resource-poor farmers especially benefit from this technology?
  1. What market enhancements including seed systems and value chains are needed to encourage adoption of CASI?
  2. What broader mechanisms through polices, institutions and markets and other partners are needed to support and scale CASI?


Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Direct beneficiaries reached through SIMLESA support : 102,856

Innovation Platforms: 10

Farmers reached: 9843

Researchers trained  651

Adoption target: 130,708

Thematic Area Tanzania
Area under dedicated for maize (millions) 3.0
Production per ha (tonnes) 1.2
Baseline reports 1

SIMLESA Impacts in Tanzania

  • Scientific Impact

    Through partnership and collaborative research in the target countries, in line with the program design, the SIMLESA program has consistently maintained its focus on generating scientific impacts.

  • Capacity Impact

    SIMLESA has continued to deliberately direct its efforts on trainings in conservation agriculture principles and technologies; sustainable and climate responsive agriculture production systems; agricultural production systems simulations; risk management and systems modelling acknowledging the socioeconomic dynamics of households in different sites.

  • Community Impact

    During the design phase, the program set targets and adoption pathways to achieve scaling out processes in terms of the number of research communities covered, number of farmers reached out and the number of adopters (these being the farmers who have learned, embraced and started practising sustainable intensification technologies).

  • Economic Impact

    SIMLESA has brought increased use of CA-based sustainable intensification options technology in communities which have also led to evident reduction of production costs and increased crop productivity per unit area especially and dietary diversification in farm households where maize and legumes are intercropped.

  • Social Impact

    SIMLESA, on the social dimension side, continues to improve family fabric through the hosting of exploratory trials which promote the participation of men, women and youths thereby making everyone strategic and important participant in household farming activities.

  • Environmental Impact

    Climate change is expected to negatively impact agricultural production in SIMLESA countries. Low-nitrogen stress combined with drought and heat stress will become increasing constraints on maize production, and on growing improved varieties.




        Trial Demonstration Plots

        SIMLESA Tanzania covered 5 districts namely Karatu, Mbulu, Kilosa, Mvomero and Gairo. The number of communities covered within each district during phase one are as shown in the figure 1. 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.

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