Wheat and barley farming in Tanzania's Manyara region are set to benefit from a deal between Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBL) and agrochemical firm Syngenta to significantly revamp them.
The new strategy will almost double productivity from 15 bags per hectare to 25 bags, a move that will directly address farmers' income.
An expert with Syngenta, Ramadhani Chambuya, said they were engaged in campaigns to raise awareness among farmers in Manyara on modern strategies in pest control, safety and effective use of pesticides and insect management in a bid to boost the crops' production.
So far, nearly 100 wheat and barley growers in three strong farming areas ... have been trained on soil and fertilizer requirements, production protocol, land preparations, time of planting, varieties, weeds, insects and diseases control as well as harvesting.
"We will set up at least two demonstration sites in each village. During this year's long rains demonstrations will be conducted," Chambuya said.
An area covering 10 acres of barley will be developed according to this protocol and a similar adjacent area will be grown with the same crops based on local practices. A field day would be held towards the end of the season involving farmers from other barley growing areas. Before the start of the demonstrations, a soil analysis service would be carried out by Syngenta to determine the nutrient requirements of the site where the demo will be conducted.
"A good weed control programme starts with good land preparation and using seeds free of weed seeds. Grass weeds such as wild oats and ryegrass can be scientifically be controlled," Chambuya said.
Syngenta is planning to apply an insect control strategy that uses a combination of seed treatment and foliar spray.
"Our long run aim in to ensure that growers increase production of the multi-use crop to 40 bags per hectare so as to obtain 30,000 tonnes of barley and satisfy TBL's demand," Chambuya explained.
The size of land under cultivation in Manyara region is standing at 25, 000 hectares occupied by nearly 600 farmers, according to statistics from the TBL.
The Northern Zone of Tanzania, especially Manyara, Arusha and Kilimanjaro are potentially able to produce best varieties of barley and wheat on the African continent.
TBL's barley development manage David Bategereza told the Guardian that his company was planning to make use of malt from 100 percent locally-grown barley, starting next year, if all goes as planned. The company currently is importing nearly 60 percent of its malt demand from Europe, while the remaining 40 percent is being procured from locally produced barley.