DOWN in Mabogini ward in Lower Moshi is one success story of how irrigation agriculture can change a farmer's fortune. Local farmers have increased land under irrigation from less than 300 hectares to over 1600 hectares, a development that has seen their rice production double and topping in the country.
It has infact, doubled from 3 tonnes per hectare to an average of 6 tonnes per year, effectively making it the highest producer in the country.
Kilimanjaro region authorities reveal in their reports that successes of the Mabogini irrigation project,which supports 2900 farmers, has also scaled up competition for water from the sources among the demarcated farmers and those not under the project, a challenge which calls for serious organisation mechanism on how resources should be used.
The Mabogini paddy rice irrigation project, sources water from river Rau and river Mabogini from the Kilimanjaro mountain. The manager of the project, Eng Hatibu Jengo, said that with over 1600 hectares of land currently under irrigation for rice, the life of over 2900 households had changed for the better with examples of brick and iron sheet houses, building of four secondary school in the area, building seven primary schools in seven villages, two dispensaries, a clinic and more than one meal for families per day.
Kilimanjaro Agriculture Technical Centre (KAVTC) gets prototypes of some of the agricultural machinery from Japan and makes bigger machines that suit the local working conditions of famers. The equipment comes under grant money from Japan with experts who train through the Japan International Cooperation.
The KAVTC principal Adam Pyuza said the Kilimanjaro project has been trickling down to other parts of the country. The initiative is part of the commitments to scale up agricultural irrigation, under which Tanzania targets to boost annual rice production from the current 800,000 to two million tonnes by 2018.
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expert Motonori Tomitaka, since the Tanrice training started, Kitivo irrigation scheme at Lushoto in Tanga has doubled paddy rice production from 2.9 tonnes in 2007 to 5.1 tonnes per hectare.
It had gone up from 2.1tonnes per hectare in 2007 to 3.4 tonnes per hectare under the Kiroka irrigation scheme in Morogoro. Paddy yields also went up from 3.6 tonnes per hectare in 2007 to 4.9 tonnes per hectare in 2009 under the Ilonga irrigation scheme in Kilosa.
The paddy yields have also gone up under Ruanda Majenje irrigation scheme in Mbeya from 2.4 tonnes per hectare in 2007 to 3.2 tonnes per hectare. Yields also went up from 3.2 tonnes per hectare in 2007 to 5.3 tonnes last year under the Sakalilo irrigation scheme in Sumbawanga.
The Titye irrigation scheme in Kigoma saw paddy yields increase from 2 tonnes per hectare in 2007 to 2 tonnes per hectare in 2009. There are currently 13 irrigation schemes under training in the 2009/2010 season and some 44 schemes will have got training by 2012.
Down in rural Tanzania, the project is part of the 2008 set Yokohama Action Plan under which Agriculture and Rural Development would be achieved through what they call Comprehensive "Glocal" (global and local) community development. It was planned based on the understanding that 70 per cent of the poor in Sub-Sahara Africa or 230 million live in rural areas, and increase in food production and agricultural productivity are critical for food security, poverty reduction and economic growth.
That while the agricultural sector can be a driving force for the African economy, the continuing increase in food, fertilizer and fuel prices has become ever more threatening to food security.
African countries have recognized the importance of the agricultural sector for development and are implementing NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) that seeks to improve agricultural productivity to attain an average annual growth rate of 6 per cent by 2015.
As part of that agenda, African countries have committed, in accordance with the 2003 AU Maputo Declaration, to allocate at least 10% of national budgetary resources for agriculture and rural development within five years.
Support for agriculture under the TICAD process also includes attention to the environmental impact of agricultural activities, as well as the empowerment of women, who play a critical role in agriculture, and the encouragement of South-South cooperation including triangular cooperation.
Under the setting, actions to be taken in the next 5 years under the TICAD Process, since 2008, is to seek alignment with the CAADP agenda to:enhance capacity to increase food production and agricultural productivity, Improve access to markets and agricultural competitiveness and Support sustainable management of water resources and land use.
The idea, now turned into reality, was to provide assistance to expand agricultural research, extension and advisory services including for adaptation to climate change, development of new crop varieties and improvement of soil fertility and other farming technologies, and increase the number of agriculture professionals through support for agriculture- related education and training in a gender sensitive manner.
As it is being done through KAVTC, it was also to assist smallholders and farmers' organizations to adopt new technologies, expand agricultural land and the use of inputs and introduce appropriate machinery and equipment to raise productivity.
Increase rice production through developing capacities to adopt systematic crop management, and new methodologies including wider use of New Rice for Africa (NERICA), aiming at doubling the rice production in African countries in ten years.
At the national level, a new national irrigation policy, expected to raise crop production under irrigation, is currently at cabinet level and its approval is expected to raise agricultural land under irrigation from one per cent and subsequently scale up farmers' revenues.
A new government document reveals how the ministry will charter ways to increase agricultural revenue, noting that it would be part of the proposed target for the overall agricultural sector to grow by 5 per cent per year on an average over the 3-year period.
The sector employs 80 per cent of the labour force, contributes 26.7 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 30 per cent of foreign exchange. The government report, focusing on irrigation, states that various innovative and practical actions are included as part of its strategy such as a focus that agricultural productivity and profitability come first.
According to the Assistant Director of Irrigation, Research and Technology Promotion and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Eng Amandus Lwena, the government has placed priority on interventions such as rehabilitation of existing traditional irrigation schemes, construction of water harvesting schemes, construction of new irrigation schemes, construction of small, medium and strategic large scale dams and promotion of low cost and affordable irrigation technologies.
"As it is through irrigation that high, stable yields can be obtained, conducting research in irrigation is also necessary to meet the proposed agricultural growth," he said. The blueprint goes on to note that the derivation from the National Irrigation Master Plan of 2002 have shown that Tanzania has 29.4 million hectares suitable for irrigation with different levels of development potentials.
In them, some 2.3 million hectares have high potential, 4.8 million hectares have medium potential and 22.3 million hectares have low potential. Viewing this huge potential for irrigation it is only 310,745 hectares equivalent to 1 per cent of the total potential area, which has been put under irrigation.
Irrespective of this small area, being put under irrigation, it has been demonstrated that the yield response to irrigation is almost 2 - 3 times as compared to rain fed, which gives an indication that human societies will continue to rely on areas under irrigation for food security bearing in mind the possible high scope of crop intensification.
As part of its National Policies and Strategies, the Development Vision 2025 envisages that the economy will have to be transformed from a low productivity agricultural economy to a semi-industrialized one led by modernized and high productive agricultural as well as industrial and service activities in rural and urban areas.