Rice is an important crop grown by farmers in Kilombero, Mvomero and Mbarali districts in Tanzania. However, due to ineffective extension services, yields are very low. Farmers conventionally broadcast seeds of local, unimproved varieties. FIPS-Africa has been advising farmers to use the improved TXD306 variety, and to place seeds at a spacing of 20 x 20 cm. By doing this, farmers can increase their yields by 500%.
Village-based Advisors have been trained to produce Quality-declared seed of the improved TXD306 variety to sell to farmers.
Image: VBA at farm where he is producing Quality-declared seed of the TXD306 variety to sell to farmers.
Beans is the most popular leguminous crop grown by, and consumed by, farmers in East Africa. Yields are constrained by poor soil fertility (soil acidity, and phosphorus), and the use of local, unimproved varieties. VBAs disseminate seeds of improved high-yielding varieties in small 25 g packs to ALL farmers in their Villages to enable them to “Learn-by-Doing” on small plots on their own farms. Varieties are sourced from Research Institutes e.g. Uyole ARI in Tanzania, and KALRO-Kakamega and KALRO-Katumani in Kenya.
Image: VBA in Meru County at a demonstration comparing local bean variety (left) and improved Chelalang bean variety (right).
Image: Farmer with high-yielding Chelalang variety. 110 seeds were counted from one plant.
Image: Farmer in Nzaui (Makueni County) with seeds of different bean varieties saved to plant over larger areas. She received the seed in small 25 g small packs.
The Cowpea is an important crop in semi-arid areas, and is grown for its leaves (for vegetables), and grain. The crop is tolerant to drought and poor soils. FIPS-Africa promotes early-maturing and high-yielding cowpea varieties such as M66 in Kenya, and Tumaini in Tanzania. Varieties mature in only 70 days. In Central Tanzania, farmers have found that they can plant the Tumaini variety three times within one growing season. Farmers are saving their harvest from the 25 g small pack to plant over larger areas to improve their food security.
Images: Farmers with the improved M66 variety in Makueni district (left), and the improved Tumaini variety in Iramba district (right).
Green grams have become an important cash crop in semi-arid Eastern Kenya. Farmers in Machakos and Makueni Counties are benefiting from the early-maturing, and high-yielding N26 variety, sourced from KALRO-Katumani. The N26 variety matures in only 80 days. Farmers are saving their seeds from the 25 g small pack to plant over larger areas.
Image: Farmers with harvest of N26 green gram variety originating from the 25 g small seed pack.
Pigeon pea is a potentially important crop in Eastern Kenya. It is tolerant to drought, and to poor soil fertility. Yields are limited by low-yielding, late-maturing local varieties and poor agronomy.
Image: Conventional planting of local varieties.
Image: Mbaazi2 variety planted with deep tillage and manure in planting lines.
Sunflowers is an important cash crop in Central Tanzania (Dodoma and Singida Regions). However crop productivity is very low due to the use of late-maturing local varieties and poor agronomy.
VBAs are producing Quality-declared seed of the improved Record variety to sell to farmers, and are disseminating small 50 g packs to farmers and advising them on best agronomy. Farmers are increasing their yields from 2 to 6 (70 kg) bags per acre.
Image: A VBA in Singida at his farm where he is producing Quality-declared seed of the Record variety.
Images: Farmers are saving seed from their small packs of the improved Record variety, planting over larger areas, and benefiting from increased sunflower yields.
Pearl millet is an important crop in Central Tanzania. VBAs have been promoting the improved Okoa variety in small 50 g packs. Farmers can harvest up to 60 kg grain from a small pack and are keeping seed to plant over larger areas.
Potato is an important crop in Meru and Nakuru Counties in Kenya. Yields are constrained by the use of recycled, diseased, seed, and poor agronomy.
Village-based Potato Advisors are helping farmers to access clean seed of improved high-yielding varieties, and information on good agricultural practices. They also distribute 1 kg packs of clean potato seed to farmers to enable them to experiment with the clean seed.
Farmers who are accessing clean seed from VBAs and are practising positive seed selection are increasing their yields from as little as 2 tonnes to 10 tonnes per acre.
Image: Village-based Potato Advisor in Meru County with his harvest from his multiplication site of the improved Asante potato variety.
Image : Farmer in Molo with harvest of tubers from clean seed of the Shangi variety.
Image : VBA with farmer at her small plot planted with clean seed of an improved variety. Farmers harvest, select the best seed and plant over a larger area.
Cassava is an important food security crop because it is tolerant to drought and poor soil fertility. The major constraint to cassava production in the Region is the Cassava Mosaic Virus (CMV), which has affected local varieties. CMV may result in complete loss of yield. New varieties have been developed which are tolerant to CMV, but they are not accessible to most farmers.
FIPS-Africa promotes high-yielding varieties which are tolerant to the cassava mosaic virus (MSV). These varieties have been developed by KALRO. Village-based Advisors establish multiplication sites of these improved varieties. From these multiplication sites, they benefit from sales of tubers, and they disseminate the planting materials to all farmers in their Villages.
Dissemination of improved varieties in Nzaui district, now part of Makueni County, resulted in incredibly high yield increases. See farmer testimonials.
Although yields were very high, more work is required to improve the palatability and CMV-tolerance of these varieties.
Image: In Siaya and Busia Counties, cassava (left) grows well on soils where maize fails (right).
Images: Yields from single plants from improved varieties in Siaya (left) and Busia (right) Counties.
Sweet potato is an important food security crop in Western Kenya. It is well-adapted to the poor soils in the Region, and because the Region receives well-distributed rainfall, planting materials can be easily conserved and multiplied. FIPS-Africa is promoting a number of improved varieties which are high-yielding, early-maturing, and they include orange-flesh varieties. Varieties have been developed by KALRO-Kakamega.
Image: Sweet potato has huge potential to improve food security of small-holder farmers in Western Kenya.
Image: Farmer in Kakamega County who adopted the SPK004 and SPK013 varieties.
Coffee is an important cash crop in Nyeri and Kirinyaga Counties, but it has been neglected by farmers over many years because of low prices and obsolete marketing policies. As a result, yields have become very low. Most farmers harvest about 2 kg/bush whereas 20 kg/bush are possible.
FIPS-Africa is promoting the use of lime and fertilizer and other good management practices such as pruning, and protection against the Coffee Leaf Rust disease. Yields are increasing from 2kg to 8 kg/bush.
Images: Farmers are improving the management of their coffee bushes to produce higher-yields.
Cocoa is a cash crop grown by 50,000 small-holder farmers in Kyela district in Southern Tanzania. When FIPS-Africa first started to work in Kyela, farmers were losing up to 100% of their yields due to pests and diseases. This was due to poor tree crop management.
Image: Farmers used to lose 100% of their crop to pests and disease.
FIPS-Africa recruited and trained 100 Village-based Cocoa Advisors who taught farmers how to prune their trees, and how to practice phyto-sanitary disease control. This change of management reduced pest and disease pressure, and resulted in a large increase in yields. Farmers claimed they had have never obtained such high yields before, and claim that their productivity has increased by up to 500% (see images).
Banana has become an important cash crop in parts of Kirinyaga County. VBAs are producing plantlets of the improved Grand Naine variety in their macro-propagation chambers and selling them to farmers. Combined with good nutrient and water management, farmers are benefiting from high yields and income from their banana crops.
Images: VBAs and farmers are benefiting from income from the establishment of new banana plantations.
The indigenous chicken is the most important livestock kept by small-holder farmers in East Africa. Indigenous chickens are primarily owned by women. All women keep a few chickens but their productivity is very low due to mortality from the Newcastle disease, and predation, and the keeping of breeds which grow slowly and produce few eggs.
VBAs are advising farmers to pen up young chicks to prevent predation from eagles, and are offering vaccination service to prevent death of chickens from outbreaks of the Newcastle disease. They are also rearing and selling more productive breeds to farmers.
As a result, farmers’ chicken populations have increased rapidly, and farmers are benefiting from better nutrition from increased consumption of eggs, and meat, and also income from the sale of chickens and eggs.
Images: VBA with vaccine (left); farmer with chick pen protecting them from predation (right)
Image: Farmer in Tharaka benefiting from chicken vaccination
Images: VBA with improved cockerel used for upgrading local chickens (left). Farmer benefiting from the improved Rainbow Rooster chicken breed.
At little cost, Governments, NGOs, and Private Sector Companies can use this Approach to help build a private sector-led Extension Service to enable all small-holder farmers in Africa to quickly and sustainably become food secure.