Tanzanian farmers: having the courage to adapt to climate change
In the semi-arid Dodoma region, climate adaptation means using locally sourced material, innovation and courage.
For farmers like James Maligana from Chololo village, which is located in the semi-arid region of Dodoma in Tanzania, adapting to the negative impact of climate change is a harsh reality. However, James has proved to be resilient and is adapting in many ways, using locally sourced materials, innovation and courage.
“I strive to adapt to climate change in the following ways. First, I must have good seeds; secondly, I prepare my farm by making contour ridges along slopes to prevent soil erosion and to catch precious rainwater. Thirdly, I grow drought-tolerant crops, including sorghum and pearl millet, and apply farmyard manure to my crops,” said James.
The EcoACT project, which falls under the GCCA Tanzania programme which is funded by the EU, has assisted almost 2 832 households in Dodoma City Council and Chamwino District by providing drought-tolerant seeds. Quality declared seed farmers (QDS) are certified by the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) and have begun producing their own drought-tolerant seeds and selling them to their communities. TOSCI aims to make the activity sustainable in the long term.
Gilbert Mbumi from Kikombo village, who bought QDS from Eliakim Kutusha, a neighbouring farmer, acknowledges that from the seeds he bought and planted on his 15-acre farm he has harvested 10 368 kilograms of sorghum in the 2017/2018 cropping season.
This has greatly improved his food security and he now has an excess to sell. Kikombo and ldifu wards have a total of 105 QDS trained farmers of which 34 are qualified to produce QDS.
"At first, it was difficult to get farmers like James on board as they were very resistant to change. After some time, the community began to trust us and are now benefitting from our technical support," said Dr Francis Njau, EcoACT project manager.
Bucking the trend
As well as using QDS and climate-smart agricultural, the project has also encouraged other alternative sources of income. Providing better goats to community members is another component of the EcoACT programme. Debora Mahenge breeds goats for a living. A quality buck was supplied by the EcoACT project which Debora now breeds with other goatherds in the area. She is meticulous about keeping her buck healthy and inspects potential breeders' pens and the health of female goats to assess whether they are suitable before allowing her buck to breed with them.
"The EcoACT project provided me with an improved buck for increasing the productivity of my local goats and I have gone on to sell the crossbred goats' offsprings. This year I have earned TZS 840 000 00 (USD 400) from the sale of 12 one-year-old cross-bred goats. In the past, using local goats I could only earn TZS 480 000 00 (USD 210) from a two year-old. I am now doubling my income in half the time. I also help my community to breed goats, and provide support," said Debora.