Use of high value vegetable production as an Entry point Lushoto, Tanzania
Lushoto District is located in the West Usambara Mountains of northeastern Tanzania. The district is home to the Wasambaa and small numbers of Wapare and migrants from other areas of Tanzania. The pilot watershed covers an area of 6006 hectares; it spans 6 villages and a population of 13,163 in the Baga and Bumbuli Wards.
The land use system is relatively intensified and involves the cultivation of cash crops in the valley bottoms, staple crops and tea on the hillsides and small livestock holdings.From the 1950s onward, a number of afforestation programs designed to reduce pressure on State forest while contributing to conservation and livelihood goals were initiated, resulting in a dramatic increase in tree cover within farmland.
Challenges to INRM in this site have included:
Intensifying production of crops, livestock and trees while ensuring sustainable nutrient management in the system;
Reversing water resource degradation by fostering positive synergies between trees, soil conservation structures and water in micro-catchments; and
Managing environmental degradation stemming from cultivation from steep hillsides and mountain tops, and damage caused by rapid movement of water across the landscape (e.g. burial of fertile valley bottom soils).
During the PRA conducted by the Landcare team with Kwalei farmers in Lushoto, Tanzania in 1998, low crop productivity was reported to be the major problem in the village. On the other hand, vegetables were identified to be the best fast-cash earning crops because they can be produced food and cash three times a year. As a result, the majority of farmers, especially the youth, selected tomato and cabbage as the top priority vegetable crops that they would like to be assisted to improve its production and marketing. The market demands the small-headed cabbage and firm tomato varieties that can withstand transportation hustles and long shelf life. Tengeru Horticultural Training Institute supplied the required varieties namely Tengeru 97 and Tanya tomato varieties, and Glory F1 cabbage variety. Through the Landcare site team in Tanzania, farmers were then taught on improved agronomic practices, from nursery, transplanting, spacing, soil fertility, weeding, disease and pest control, harvesting, packaging to marketing. After several seasons of bumper harvest and good marketing, more than 50% of farmers in Kwalei are now eagerly producing tomato and cabbage. As a result, farmers are able to pay school fees for their children, built improved houses, bought more land, and are using improved land management practices. Farmers are now responding to the market demand through grading, improving the quantity and quality of produce timely. They are also in contact with traders in Dar es Salaam and Arusha via telephone, to know the current market prices. In this way they are making more informed decisions. Through Landcare farmers have been linked to markets while improving their access to high quality germplasm for increased on farm productivity.