The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) project in collaboration with the African Cassava Agronomy Initiatives (ACAI) conducted a training on the Good Agricultural Technologies’ Practices (GATP) and Mechanization for cassava stakeholders in Mkuranga, Eastern Zone Tanzania. The training is part of TAAT’s core objective to empower project stakeholders for efficient and effective deployment of appropriate technologies.
The training was organized at the Central District Office, Mkuranga, Eastern zone, Tanzania on March 4th and 5th 2019. It was facilitated by ACAI East Africa coordinator and IITA’s Systems Agronomist Dr. Veronica NE Uzokwe, ACAI, IITA’s Weed Scientist Prof. Friday Ekeleme and Eng. George Marechera, Business Development Manager for African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
Participants in the training included representatives from Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), development partners -FJS starch company, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), government representatives, extension agents, and cassava growers. The GATP and mechanization of cassava production systems training aim to empower stakeholders, particularly EAs, who work very closely with cassava growers.
In her opening remarks, the guest of honor Madam Julitha Bulali, who is the District Agricultural, Irrigation and Cooperative Officer (DAICO) in Mkuranga District, hailed the training going on in the region led by IITA as a progressive step towards empowering smallholder farmers.
Dr. Uzokwe gave an overview of the objectives and the content of the training as it was organized to cover topics including good agricultural practices, data capturing, proper use of herbicides and alternative weed management options in the cassava production. The facilitators also gave training sessions on mechanization in cassava production and record keeping, logistics management & cost-effective tracking.
In her presentation, Dr. Uzokwe emphasized the importance of applying tailored GATP to increase productivity and profitability. Participants were set in work groups to develop work plans to implement in the first project year of the TAAT project. A reward system for work delivery and payment modality was also designed for the EAs. Participants discussed and agreed to establish a number of demo fields per district, site selections process, plans for field activities and sourcing of planting materials.
Prof Friday Ekeleme’s led a practical session on how to calibrate herbicide volumes to be used in the knapsack sprayer. In his presentation, Prof. Ekeleme emphasized the importance of taking into account the efficacy and safety of herbicides to be applied to manage weeds in cassava fields to optimize yield and generate income from the cassava.
According to TAAT cassava-compact leader, Dr. Abass Adebayo, the project has purposed to train a minimum of 4,000 smallholder cassava farmers in Tanzania. Dr. Abass who led the committee on the content of the training said the farmers will be sensitized on the use of user-friendly mechanized tools from production to the harvesting of cassava. Participants also exchanged experiences that will enable the training to align well with the expected output.
Representatives from the cassava growers’ group, TARI, government, and Development partners expressed their gratitude for the training and noted that the skills learned will empower them to carry out their duties effectively.