By Jean Claude Rubyogo

More than 300 farmers, companies, extension agents and media attended a field day at the Agriculture Seed Agency (ASA) seed farm at Ngaramtoni in Arusha, Tanzania, to raise awareness among smallholder farmer about the value of planting improved bean varieties.

Facilitated by the Pan-Africa Research Alliance (PABRA), farmers visited the multiplication farm to see several bean varieties such as Lyamungu 90, Lyamungu 85, Jesca, Njano Uyole and Uyole 96 planted. Agriculture officers from Agriculture Seed Agency (ASA) and Selian Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) stressed to farmers the importance of recommended spacing and fertilizer and other technologies when necessary if they want to realize better yield of the crop. They also provided the advisory information to farmers and responded to queries about how to prevent pest and disease infestations.

The guest of honor was the District Executive Director of Arumeru district Dr. Wilson Mahela Charles. He visited the bean seed plot, pigeon pea seed plot and sunflower seed plot and saw various farming technologies used in bean seed production.

Several agriculture input companies were invited to display their product to farmers and post-harvest companies supplying the helmet bags: triple-bagging of grain in three layers at a reasonable price, eliminates insecticide use, enabling farmers to store their grain after harvest and ensuring a supply of clean grain for consumption or sale for many months after harvest.

Selian Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) showed different bean products made from flour and grain such as porridge, samosa, donut and breed.  This value addition innovation presents great opportunity for entrepreneur, especially women, to venture into the business.

Dr. Wilson said that the bean seed systems project supported by AGRA/USAID through the Scaling Up Seed Technologies Partnership (SSTP) is aligned with the incoming Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) to promote a commercial and business oriented agriculture sector that will reduce the level of poverty.

He praised the public-private nature of the partnership and research stations for producing new improved seed varieties, pointing out that if these research and technologies are not taken up by other players, there is not point of conducting them.

He advised the project to build capacity of implementers of the project such as extension agents, agro-dealers, farmers and farmer’s organization and urged farmers involved to spread this awareness to their fellow farmers in their villages so that they can also adopt the displayed technologies.

Remarks from CIAT were conveyed by the country Representative and Project Team Leaders, Mr. Jean-Claude Rubyogo, who explained that before the project, bean seed production was around 10 tons and seed was sold in bags of 50kgs and sold to relief operations by Government or NGOs but now bean seed is packed and available in packets of 2, 5 and 10kgs and sold through Agro –dealers /farm input shops according to the needs of small farmers.

This year the production by ASA and seed companies is expected to reach 500 tons. He also said that CIAT and SARI will continue enticing the private companies to continue to expanding the market led seed production and market approach to help farmers to get quality seed of improved bean varieties of their choices to improve their income level.

The presentation from AGRA/USAID was delivered by Mr. Ipyana Mwakasaka on behalf of AGRA and USAID. He said the aim of the SSTP project is to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers by improving food security and increase income through farming.

He added that Tanzania will be self-sufficient in terms of food and will continue supply the neighboring countries if farmers use the advice from extension officers especially the use of quality seeds of improved bean varieties.

He furthermore said the good results shown by the project have encouraged the AGRA to expand the project to other areas like Kagera and Kigoma. He then appreciated  CIAT and the partnership for achievement recorded including increased awareness of farmers on the use of quality seed of improved varieties and enable ASA and Seed Companies to increase production and sell of bean seeds and establishment of distribution channels for beans.

On behalf of the Research Zonal Director, research coordinator Mr. Ramadhani Ngatulua conveyed the presentation from SARI. He started by appreciating CIAT in cooperation with ASA for reducing the challenge of bean seeds availability to farmers.

One farmer claimed that the price of bean seed is slightly higher compared to grains which always farmer use as seed. The claim was responded by ASA officer who explained to him the effects of using grains as a seed which seem to be of low price and the advantages of using improved seed varieties which he claimed to be of high price.

The officer also explained that the grains which are sold in market contain some bad quality grains; dust, pebbles and other richen which make a kilogram being contributed with other materials apart from bean grains. This is different in quality bean seed as a kilogram. After explanation farmers found that the price was not high compared to the quality of seeds in packages.

Lessons learned from the field day.

The field day broadened farmers’ minds as they have gained new experiences on importance of using quality seed of improved varieties and on other bean based products which can be made from bean like kalbab, samosa, biscuits, and bread and bean porridge. These (when adopted) will expand bean market as farmers can sell bean products instead of raw bean which is an advantage to them.

The event improved the relationship among value chain actors. These are input suppliers, chemical suppliers, farmers, extension agents, agriculture institutions and public officers. Through this relationship, farmers get awareness on where they can get improved seeds, inputs, chemicals and advisory information from agricultural institutions. This will increase productivity of bean by farmers.

The idea of bringing bean value chain actors together was appreciated  by many farmers as they were able to get  complete information about production of bean, post-harvest handling up to the processing of raw bean to bean products.

CIAT, Selian Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), ASA, Beula Seed and Meru Agro Tours & Consultants Ltd implement the project on Unlocking the Potentials of Seed Companies to reach smallholders with improved bean seed varieties in the Northern zone of Tanzania under scaling Seeds  and Technologies Partnership (SSTP) initiative funded by USAIDThe objectives of the project are to:

  • Increase the production of certified seed of improved bean varieties by seed companies and encourage marketing through agro-dealership network.
  • Build capacity of Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) and Meru Agro-Tours & Consultants Ltd (MATCLtd) to commercialize seed through agro-dealers
  • Build the capacity of ASA and MATCLtd to pack and market affordable (small) bean seed packs ranging from 0.5kg to 2 kg
  • Increase farmers’ awareness about use of quality seed of improved bean varieties in northern Tanzania through demonstrations, field days and TV and radio talks/announcements.
  • Facilitate the establishment of linkages between research institutions (CIAT-SARI Bean Programme), seed producers (MATCLld and ASA), and the Hanang, Simanjiro, and Hai, Siha, Arumeru, Karatu, Babati and Same Districts extension services, agro-dealers and farmers.