For the first half of 2017, African Cassava Agronomy Initiative, ACAI, recorded remarkable field trials set up in the Southern Zone and Zanzibar project sites in Tanzania. Between January and May 2017, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, staff coordinating the ACAI project in Tanzania alongside strategic and national partners successfully set up 100 Nutrients omission trials, 100 validation trials and 4 staggered trials in the Tanzania southern zone project site.
In the Zanzibar zone, 102 cassava and sweet potato intercrop trials were established within the same period in collaboration with the Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute, ZARI. This was part of the work to set up second season trials alongside the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of season one trials in the two zones in Zanzibar.
In the Southern zone, the trials were set up in accordance with the modeling of plant growth characteristics in respect to Fertilizer Recommendation use case and the Scheduled Planting use case for advising farmers to be able supply all year. Cassava crops in the trial fields within these zones have undergone weeding, fertilizer application, termite control and plant genotype assessment against cassava brown streak disease, CBSD, and cassava mosaic disease, CMD.
ACAI project trials were planted using improved and clean planting materials tolerant to both CBSD and CMD. The disease tolerant varieties planted are the Mkombozo variety planted in the lake zone, Kiroba in the southern and eastern zone and the Kizimbani variety in Zanzibar
In Zanzibar, a total of 71 farmers and groups were selected by FCI in Unguja and 31 more in Pemba for the trials. Commercial Village Trained Farmers CVTF, is working in close collaboration with ZARI, and IITA to run the trials.
Field staff and extension agents from both zones successfully finalized soil sampling and packing to send for analysis. The soil samples will be analyzed for wet chemistry at the analytical soil laboratory in Dar-es-Salaam. Dry Chemistry alongside other non-destructive above the ground measurements will be carried out by the African Soil Information System, AfSIS, an ACAI partner in Arusha.
According to the official report from the project teams in the two zones, the trials registered an impressive sprouting percentage and the trail maintenance activities were on schedule. The highlight of the field trial activities in Tanzania has been the active participation of partners on the ground including ARI, FCI and government extension agents.
In April, ACAI’s Agronomist Dr. Veronica NE Uzokwe and Jeremiah Kabissa led trainings on harvesting procedures and on site starch determination procedures in readiness for the harvest of the first season trials.
The project team has scheduled more trainings for CVTF and government extension agents in monitoring and maintenance of the trials as well data collection in all project sites in Tanzania.