Iringa — SMALLHOLDER farmers in Njombe and Iringa regions have admitted that for years they have been harvesting less than what they deserve because they were either unaware or ignored effects of soil acidity and use of lime.
In a random interview, the farmers have praised joint efforts of Clinton Foundation Initiative, Farm for the Future and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) for introducing soil health tests, lime use in order to suppress soil acidity and improve soil health.
"We were ignorant of the terrible cost we have suffered for years as a result of soil acidity and failure to use lime to improve soil health of our farms, said Mr Nelson Luhungo producer of soya, beans and sunflower seeds in Luganga village, Kilolo District.
"I am harvesting 45 bags in three acres as opposed to 30 bags I used to get in the same area. An additional 15 bags means a lot to a farmer. We are now better off because of the joint efforts of the three organisations, especially the Clinton Foundation Initiative," he added.
Clinton Foundation Initiative's Senior Agri-business Advisor, Mr Miembo Shija, said the company was working with farmers so that they can get bumper harvests and put on the market quality produce.
Ms Florence Nkini, the Public Relations Officer of the Farm for the Future, praised the cooperation the three institutions were getting from farmers and leaders in the two regions. "The success they are talking about is a result of this cooperation," she said.
Mr Daimon Kisoma, a farmer in Chipengele Mtitu ward, Kilolo district, said they knew nothing about soil health until Sagcot taught them about crop value chains in Ihemi Cluster. They have since realised that they cannot grow and increase productivity without a keen leader around.
The tour of villages was coordinated by Sagcot's IT and Communications Officer, Mr Abraham Nyahucho.
Ms Tahiya Chusi, a tomato grower in Ilula Sokoni, Nyalumbu ward, said in the past farmers used a lot of fertilisers, while harvests dwindle instead of rising.
"We had never heard about pH in the soil until these people came. Harvests fell while we used a lot of fertilisers every season," she noted.
The three organisations are working jointly to protect environment, improve farmers' livelihoods, increase people's nutrition and ensure stable food security in the two regions.