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New CASI technology set to benefit farmers

THE government has launched a newly researched technology; Conservation Agriculture-based Sustainable Intensification (CASI) and has ordered modalities be put in place so that it is streamlined all over the country.

The technology that involves promoting practices that emphasize minimum tillage, crop rotation and intercrops and maintaining soil cover using crop residues and which was brought along by Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), was officially launched here by the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mr Innocent Bashungwa on Wednesday.

The technology comes aboard after years of research that was supported by the Australian government under the Australia Centre for International Agricultural Research, and geared towards answering the question of why there is danger of food insecurity while productive agricultural technologies are available.

Minister Bashungwa directed TARI, Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) and his ministry’s Crop Development Division to forthwith embark on strategising ways to roll out the technology from few growers who were involved as a pilot project so that all small farmers in the country can embrace it as soon as practicable.

“CASI technology is officially launched, and from now on it should be used countrywide,” said Mr Bashungwa, adding that the government was sure it will bring huge changes in the agricultural sector because even if farmers use the same pieces of land, they will be sure of doubling their yields, but with shorter time and work because the technology makes use of simple machines such as power tiller.

He said the technology involves storage of moisture, meaning good yields even during drought seasons, and it will also strive to ensure markets of surplus harvests is available so that farmers’ lives can change for the better.

He ordered that research findings be available in Kiswahili for the sake of farmers, even if it is written in English for the sake of development partners.

The research was part of a nine-year project dubbed SIMLESA (Sustainable Intensification of Maize and Legume Systems for Food Security in Eastern Africa), whose Coordinator, Dr John Sariah said CASI uses improved seed varieties and fertiliser.

“Results showed increase in productivity, efficient use of time and environmental benefit, including increased soil fertility and water retention. To promote awareness of the initial piloting of CASI technologies on the local level, strategic partners like farmers, researchers, local government authorities, religious institutions and farmer networks were involved. To extend the reach and scale out the CASI trials and foster wider impact, the project launched a set of outreach initiatives,” he said.

TARI Director General, Dr Geofrey Mkamilo said they were ready to start implementing the minister’s directives once they are back in Dodoma, as they have in place the right people and technology.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture, Livestock and Water, Mr Mahmoud Mgimwa lauded TARI and partners for the findings, saying it was the right way towards the industrialisation dream, asking stakeholders to send the technology to parliament as they will be sure of reaching every constituency.

ABOUT 1,000 potential beneficiaries of ...

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Author: DEUS NGOWI in Arusha

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