Mbeya region, in Southern Tanzania, grows more than 50% of the total potato production in Tanzania. Yet, there is room for improvement. In this pivotal moment, extension officers from the region commit to bring potatoes to the spotlight - and the many potato farmers to benefit from it.
Tanzania is a country of potatoes - and so is the Mbeya region, in the southern Highlands. For three weeks, consortium partners WUR – Field Crops, Aeres Dronten and Pioneers Consulting trained extension officers of the Mbeya Regional Office on potato production, good business practices and Agriculture Marketing Cooperation Societies (AMCOS), among other topics. Training weeks took place in March, May and September and were held at Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) - Uyole premises, Mbeya.
Extension officers often play a crucial role in any agricultural sector. They operate as intermediaries between farmers and research/government organizations. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of farmers rely on their knowledge to obtain the best results on their crops. The potato sector in Mbeya is no different. If anything, potatoes require continuous and timely finetuning, (costly) input application and financial solvency for optimal results. Learning how to best manage all of these aspects could set farmers apart.
The Mbeya Regional Office is witnessing a shift in the sector, and wishes extension officers to act as “Agents for change” in the potato sector. Nevertheless, acquiring knowledge and passing it on to farmers is challenging. For this reason, the implementing Consortium, led by WUR-Field Crops, and thanks to the experience earned with the CD-PIT project, implemented by Stawisha in Mbeya, teamed up with the Regional Office to implement a comprehensive potato training program targeting extension officers. The OKP programme funded the TmT initiative.
The trainings featured a number of mixed and interactive methods, always combining theory with practice.