Internship report Elifadhili Daniel: Assessment of agricultural extension services in Tanzania

The report of Elifadhili Daniel's internship entitled "Assessment of agricultural extension services in Tanzania. A case study of Kyela, Songea Rural, and Morogoro Rural Districts" is now published on the website.

Please refer to the report as: Daniel, E., 2013. Assessment of agricultural extension services in Tanzania. A case study of Kyela, Songea Rural, and Morogoro Rural Districts. Wageningen University, the Netherlands, Africa Rice Center, Tanzania. p. 45.

Summary

The majority of Tanzanian farmers are small-scale farmers who depend mainly on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture provides food for their families and cash to meet their daily needs such as housing and school fees. To meet the family food and financial demands, small-scale farmers are obliged to adhere to good agricultural practices which are fundamental for high productivity. Rain- fed rice is an increasingly important crop in smallholder farming. In Tanzania 74% of rice is grown under rain-fed lowland and 20% is under rain-fed upland. Parasitic weeds (Striga spp and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa) pose a threat to income and food security to many farming households. Economically feasible and socially acceptable management practices are needed to counter the effects of these weeds as well as to improve farming practices. Agricultural extension is essential for providing spaces for experimentation and innovation where new technologies can be explored.

 

This report presents the results of my internship study conducted in Tanzania between November 2012 and May 2013 . The study was focused on small-scale rain-fed rice farmers in Songea, Kyela and Morogoro Rural Districts. The objective of the study was to assess the delivery of agricultural extension services, the central concern of the new agricultural policy, so as to see how its implementation is impacting on improved farming practices at farmers’ level.

 

To realize the objectives of the study the agricultural policy was analysed to get insights in its formulation, operationalization and implementation at National, Regional and District levels. Interviews were conducted with agricultural extension officers and rice farmers in the districts to collect information on the delivery of extension services and the current farming practices.

 

The study revealed that the implementation of agricultural policy has resulted in an increase in the number of extension workers in three Districts surveyed since 2007. The majority of extension officers deployed were generalists. However, not all villages in the three districts under review have access to extension services yet. Some achievements that have been realized include the increased use of inorganic fertilizers in villages of Nakahuga in Songea, Kiroka in Morogoro and Kasala in Kyela due to availability of government subsidies. A few farmers in these villages also have improved their farming practice through the use of improved seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and mechanisation following the advice they received from extension workers. Generally we found that there are still many challenges to address before the implementation of the new policy yields intended results. At the district level, the main challenge concerns the low budget allocated for extension services and also the late disbursement of funds irrespective of the growing season. Extension officers were found to face challenges of poor working environments including a lack of reliable means of transport to reach the farmers, limited financial support to carrying out demonstrations and field experiments on new technologies, sub-optimal housing, lack of working facilities and low salaries. As a result, extension officers are not motivated to perform their duties well. Although farmers recognize the role and importance of having an extension officer in their areas, many have not yet to adopted new agricultural technologies disseminated. They also lack adequate knowledge on farm management skills like correct land preparation, timely planting, pest and diseases and their control, timely weed control to bypass the critical period of weed competition, knowledge on nutrient deficiency symptoms and how to correct them and keeping farm records. Poverty was found to be the major obstacle hindering the farmers from investing in agriculture.

The full report can be accessed here.