With demonstration farms, poverty can be tackled

TANZANIA: AGRICULTURE is the main part of Tanzania’s economy. As of 2016, Tanzania had over 44 million hectares of arable land with only 33 percent of this amount in cultivation.

Almost 70 percent of the poor population live in rural areas, and almost all of them are involved in the farming sector.

Farms that are used to teach agricultural techniques and technologies known as demonstration farms are a smart investment that can help accelerate the adoption of game-changing innovations.

Farmers can learn new ways of doing things without having to do it on their farms. Demonstration farms are used to teach various agricultural techniques and technologies, showcase new or improved crops.

They also serve as a venue to research and test new methods alongside traditional ones. Their sizes can vary widely, ranging from small to big farms.

Depending on what’s being tested or showcased, the demonstration farm could have different types of crops and crop varieties, livestock or poultry breeds, fertilizer treatments or technology, such as drip irrigation.

Also Read: Why Agri-infrastructure key in attracting private sector investors

They are often owned and operated by universities, government or private research institutions, private industries or agriculture focused start-ups and non-governmental organizations. demonstration farms have the potential to do much more.

There are still far too few of them in Tanzania. If carefully designed, they could help revolutionize the country’s agriculture. They could help solve some of the country’s most persistent challenges, including degraded soils or the low adoption of irrigation technologies.

They could also help with the uptake of new concepts that are transforming agriculture including precision agriculture – a farm management system that ensures soils and crops receive exactly what they need for optimal growth and productivity.

Or conservation agriculture – a sustainable agriculture production system comprised of three linked principles; minimal soil disturbance, mixing and rotating crops and keeping the soils covered as much as possible.

Farmers can see how practices work over time, ranging from one season to another to a period of years. They are then able to use them on their own farms. In Kenya for example, over 10,000, of over 7 million farmers have adopted these practices.

The need for demonstrations farms can’t be overemphasized particularly in Tanzania, because challenges such as droughts, degraded soils and low crop productivity persist and threaten the livelihoods of millions of people.

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