|Rugumamu, Costancia Peter
|Agriculture & Food Security 2014, 3:7
|Background: Despite low rice yield levels in Tanzania, the country is the leading producer in Eastern and Southern
Africa. Given that this business is dominated by smallholder farmers and that the country is endowed with
extensive landscapes suitable for rice production coupled with a high domestic and foreign potential market, there
is an urgent need to enhance the yield as a key to promote food security from household to national and
international levels. This paper seeks to demonstrate the importance of empowering smallholder farmers as a
strategy for identifying and applying improved rice husbandry technologies in a holistic and integrated manner by
employing a Farmer Field School (FFS) approach.
Methods: The study was conducted in two sample villages, namely Kipera Njiapanda in the Morogoro region and
Bwawani Visegese in the Pwani region, where culturally and ecologically rice is grown. The FFS approach was
applied with the involvement of smallholders and local authorities to develop innovative ways to increase yield and
promote food security. Data and information on current rice farming practices were collected using FFS participants
and qualitatively analyzed at each rice production stage.
Results: Findings revealed that farmers’ socioeconomic conditions varied, thus reflecting differences in farm size,
crop husbandry and associated yield as well as in non-market production along with consumption and/or market
exchange. The FFS approach demonstrated that community participatory processes have the capacity to create
conducive conditions for empowering smallholders to identify their rice production problems and opportunities
related to access to technical and financial support in the realm of seedbed preparation and irrigation, including
pest and disease control and crop marketing.
Conclusion: The FFS approach is a robust tool for the identification of problems/challenges as well as pertinent
opportunities to increase rice yield and promote food security. The paper calls for support from development
partners in managing the rice production systems at all stages in the production cycle given the current potential
of both the smallholder farmers and the arable land to increase rice yield, reduce poverty and promote food
security at household, national and international levels.
|Farmer Field School
|Empowering smallholder rice farmers in Tanzania to increase productivity for promoting food security in Eastern and Southern Africa