05 June 2015, Kirushiya, Tanzania - A soil testing session to which farmers part of the FarmaField Schools are called to attend. Through a practical, on site evaluations farmers can assess the condition of the soil in their farms. After the superficial strata of the terrain is scoured for insects, which presence or absence, species and quantity can advise the farmers of the health of their land (the presence of parasites or of anti-parasites insects is always an indication of the health of the farm), the technicians of the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture one the soil to analyse its humidity: the ground is compressed in a ball, which is an indication of proper humidity and therefore accurate irrigation. A knife is then used to asses the consistence of the ground, its ability to be penetrated by roots pushing deeper in the earth. This technique, avoiding costly lab exams (largely inaccessible to low earning farmers) provides the communities with hands down tool to assess the health of their cultivation, prompting immediate action and sampling and comparing the effectiveness, or the lack of, the their farming capabilities.
The rich Agro-ecosystem of the Kagera basin will benefit from an accurate management of its diverse resources: land erosion and fire prevention, a carefully managed access to pasture land through rotation and secluded plots where the soil is allowed to properly regenerate; the access to FarmaField Schools where farmers are kept abreast of new techniques as mulching and contouring; the introduction of fire breaker lines, ditches and troughs to retain water that can filter through the soil and recreate a proper water bed capable to generate streams. Farmers in the catchments can turn around their farming techniques, acquire tools to empower their life and produce better farming results and sustain their livelihood.
The natural resources of the Kagera river basin, which rises in Burundi and flows through Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania into Lake Victoria, are facing increasing pressures and degradation as a result of population pressures, the intensification of agricultural and livestock activities and unsustainable land use systems and management practices. The basin? land and freshwater resource base, its associated biodiversity and thereby human livelihoods and food security are threatened by declining productive capacity and resource value of the cropland, rangeland and forests and by wetland encroachment. The PDF-B grant aims to improve knowledge and strengthen capacities at local, technical and policy levels for the preparation of an integrated agro-ecosystems and biodiversity management framework - the Transboundary Agro-ecosystems Management Programme (TAMP).