Maize is the main staple grain consumed in Tanzania. Maize provides 60 percent of dietary calories and more than 35 percent of utilizable protein to the Tanzanian population. It is also a major source of income for the majority of smallholders. Corn is produced for both human consumption and the market (about 40 percent is sold, mostly locally). Annual per capita consumption is 73 kg per person per year (Mtaki, 2017). Maize can be used to prepare traditional foods like ‘ugali’ (Stiff porridge), makande (Mixture of maize and beans), normal porridge, beverages as well as alcohol. The remains of threshed maize is used as source of animal and poultry feeds.
About 80% of the Tanzanian depending on livestock keeping and agricultural activities, and it is well known that agriculture is the economic backbone of Tanzania. Due to the problem of poor accessibility and availability of agricultural inputs (seeds) in the rural areas, most of the smallholder farmers in Tanzania store maize seeds in the kitchen where these seeds are exposed to the firewood smoke. These seeds tend to lose their viability due to poor managements and storage.
My innovative idea on sustainable crop protection is to use a mixture of liquid bio slurry from cattle together with neem (Azadirachta indica) plant extracts to treat maize seeds that are stored by local/ smallholder farmers for use in the next growing/planting season. Through the use of the mixture of liquid bio-slurry and neem plant extracts stored maize seeds will be protected from storage insect pests as well as maintaining their germination ability.
Bioslurry is anaerobic decomposed organic materials which can be used to treat seeds for higher germination, disease resistance, better yields, improved coloration of fruits and vegetables, tenderness and taste of leafy vegetables, as well as a plague repellent. Being fully fermented, it is odorless and does not attract flies, it repels termites and pests that are attracted to raw dung, and also it reduces weed growth (proved to reduce weed growth by up to 50%). Bio-slurry is an excellent soil conditioner, adds humus, and enhances the soil’s capacity to retain water. Apart from that farmers also benefit from bio-slurry which can be used as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. Due to the fact that bioslurry contains phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, manganese and copper, of which the latter has become a limited factor in many soils, Bioslurry can be used to build healthy fertile soils for crop production. Indeed, bioslurry form and content stabilizes with double nitrogen content, which is different from Farmyard Manure (FYM) (Warnars & Hivos, 2014).
Farmers will also benefit from the advantages of neem plants to their environment, crops, wellbeing as well as to their socio-economic and livelihood development. A formulation made from neem extracts have wide usage as bio-fungicides for organic farming in controlling black spot, powdery mildew, Anthracnose and rust. Also neem extracts can be used to control some insect pest due to its more than 100 biosafety compounds that controls more than 500 species of insect pests, phytophagous mites, mites, ticks, plants parasitic nematodes, pathogenic fungi, harmful bacteria and fungi. These neem compounds are environmental friendly and non-toxic to human health. This approach will encourage wide planting of neem trees benefiting the environment and influencing climate change resilience.
This project idea will be implemented through research conducted with smallholder farmers. A few farmers will be trained on preparation and storage of quality bioslurry and neem plant extractions. Farmers will also construct bio digesters that will be used to produce energy for the domestic/kitchen purposes as a means to reduce the rate of deforestation.
This project will be sustainable because the trained farmers will be practitioners of this idea and the benefits will be seen by other smallholder farmers. Benefits and increased productivity will be seen in the wider community so will encourage school attendance, particularly among pastoralist and farmers communities where there is a high level of absenteeism. This is because they will be able to grow enough food to eat and to sell, and be able to keep their families healthy and afford to educate their children.
This project will be performed throughout the year, starting with construction of the bio digesters that will be used to produce biogas and bioslurry. Farmers will be advised to plant neem trees to increase the number of plants that can be used to produce the extract for maize seed treatment and other uses.
During the beginning of the crop growing season, the prepared bio slurry will be applied to the soils in maize fields so that to influence growth and development of the crops as well as to increase productivity. The harvested seeds, which are intended to be used in the next growing season, will be treated with a prepared mixture of liquid bio-slurry and neem extract in order to protect them from storage insect pest and to maintain their viability. After the storage time seeds will be tested for germination to determine the successful and positive impacts of the idea.
During the implementation of this project, more research on sustainable crop protection will be conducted to detect other advanced methods/technologies that could be used to improve maize and other crops productivity, smallholder farmers per capital income and their livelihood.
The stakeholders of this project will be smallholder farmers, farmers associations, NGOs, agricultural research Institutes, and The Government of United Republic of Tanzania through ministries of Agriculture, livestock and SIDO (Small Industries Development Organization).
I haven’t done anything with this idea/innovation yet as I’ve not had start-up capital. It’s my hope that through IUPAC I will have a broad impact on eliminating poverty in my place, because I will make sure that different agricultural technologies, using local available resources and information is made widely spread to our smallholder farmers. If I am offered this position with IUPAC I will have a large and great capacity to help my people on how to improve their livelihood through their daily work, because farmers know their needs best. I will give them access to information and resources according to their needs.
Tanzanians traditional teaching methods do not give young people the opportunity to learn different sustainable agricultural technologies. I will equip primary school pupils and other special groups with sustainable agricultural/horticultural/crop protection practical skills. I have dreams to extend my knowledge from my Bachelor degree of Horticulture to more scientific and professional levels. Though this innovative idea, I believe I will get more knowledge and information about agriculture which will help me to increase efficiency in my profession and to help large numbers of smallholder farmers and growers.
Sources: (1) Benjamin Mtaki (2017). Tanzania Corn, Wheat and Rice Report. (2) Lavinia Maria E. Warnars and Hivos, (2014). Bioslurry: a supreme fertiliser Positive effects of bioslurry on crops.
Ally Juma Mkumbukiy, Tanzania