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Chemical fertilizers to Tarime,the land of milk and honey

Chemical fertilizers to Tarime,the land of milk and honey

Geographically the area lies north of the Mara River, which drains from Kenya, pouring its waters into Lake Victoria. “As you drive east away from the Lake, you will feel that you are ascending. By the time you reach Tarime town (from which the district got its name), you will have climbed 1500 ft above sea level.

Further east, you will come to even much higher ground with a cool and rainy climate, which is agriculturally very rich. This ecosystem tapers off northerly towards Kenya. South of the highland area is marked by cliffs dropping sharply to the Mara River and the Serengeti plains.

These low lying areas of southern Tarime district are poorer agriculturally, but rich in cattle, wildlife and the gold embedded rock strata of Nyamongo; they are now host to many world known gold mining companies. “ Kobori village is in the most easterly located ward bordering the Serengeti/Masai Mara National Parks. Beyond, one either goes to Kenya (Kurya district) or drops again to the Serengeti Plains.

The land in this ward receives almost 80 inches of rainfall annually. Due to this rain, combined with the red volcanic soil, the area has been and is, dense with natural vegetation. “In rainy climates, it is natural that grass and other plantings grow and wither in quick cycles. Due to the dense vegetation cover, the soil gets conditioned by the mineral richness in the humus. It is
natural therefore, that rainy lands are always fertile.

Even now, when the population has increased, the highland area is densely covered with vegetation and trees of all kinds.
“Common products include staple foods such as maize, red millet (mtama), finger millet (ulezi), bananas, sweet and round potatoes, cassava, fruits, green vegetables, raisins, etc.

Our traditional food crops were supplemented with wild fruits of various kinds, and because the area was also endowed with plenty of domestic animals, goats, sheep cattle and plenty of wildlife, we also had milk and meat. Tarime had so much natural endowment that some people likened it to the Biblical promised land of ‘milk and honey’.

“Until recently most of the staple crops had no commercial value and so were plentiful. If one household was in short supply of potatoes, for instance, a member would simply walk into the neighbor’s compound and tell his/her needs. The reply would always be received positively for the people were always generous to a hungry person. If the granaries were still full at a time of new harvest, needy people would be welcome to take as much food as they could so as to create storage room for the new crop.

“The origin of the renowned concept of UJAMAA authored by Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who was a native of Mara region, derived from this. “The clamor for modern farming has remained with the political leadership of this country since the beginning. Modern farming is synonymous with the use of machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters, use of GMO seeds, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

“In 1966 I saw a nationally acclaimed World Bank Funded maize project at the village of Borega – it was a farming methods demonstration project. The successes at Borega convinced the then ruling President Nyerere, that all natives in Tarime should be collectivized into nucleated settlements called Ujamaa villages.

The idea was that people would practice large scale farming under the close supervision of the Government. Nyerere himself put up a holiday house at Muriba village from where, he, in person, participated in the agricultural activities of the neighboring villages. Ujamaa concept was later to be experimented on almost all rural villages of the country.

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Author: ANNE OUTWATER

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