The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project conducted a survey on farmers who received a loan facility from an initiative by the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank and National Microfinance Bank to finance cassava farmers in Tanzania to review the progress and experiences of applying the AKILIMO agronomy advice tools.
The majority of respondents indicated that the costs associated with land preparation, planting and crop management had gone down after applying the recommendations deployed by AKILIMO agronomy advice tools.
According to the survey results, 99% of the farmers confirmed to have implemented recommendations for best planting practices such as site selection, land preparation, weed control, and spacing (1mx1m). The farmers also adopted to grow the high yielding mkuranga1 cassava variety, as opposed to the previous planted local varieties.
The goal of the survey was to look at whether farmers had applied good agronomic practices with respect to the AKILIMO recommendations. Members of the farmer groups surveyed indicated they had picked the use of tractor in cassava growing for ploughing and making ridges. This was previously not very common among cassava growing communities in the region.
“I am have picked up the use of a tractor in making ridges, which has significantly reduced the cost of labour and the time it usually took us to do the same manually.” Rashid Mpanzo said.
Farmers pointed to the fact that two to three months since the start of the planting session, their crops showed more vigour and vibrance compared to the period where they used local varieties.
The healthy outlook of the crops according to the farmers, was an indicator that the technology would be helpful for them and improve productivity at the time of harvest.
When the initiative to finance cassava farmers was launched, the leading banks together with government agencies made it a prerequisite that all qualifying farmers must receive agronomy training by the ACAI team and apply the AKILIMO agronomy recommendation in their field. Most farmers have already indicated willingness to continue using AKILIMO independently and influenced uptake by their peers outside of the project.
The survey was conducted in Handeni district, Tanga region on 20-24th January 2021, and it was operated by visiting 21 farms groups among 43 groups that affiliated with the program. A total 60 farmers were randomly selected for survey.
ACAI partners in the initiative who participated in the survey include National Microfinance Bank (NMB), Handeni DC (DAICOS), Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) representatives.