Short maturity cassava variety increases food security in Bunda, Tanzania
Many farmers in Tanzania have been struggling to produce enough food to feed their families on land that is degraded and dry. Drought is among the major cause of low crop yields and therefore contributes to major food insecurity among rural communities.
To overcome this challenge, CPAR uses Farmer Field Schools (FFS) to facilitate training to men and women farmers to promote crops that are drought resistant and have a short maturity period. One of the promoted crops is cassava plants.
Recently, CPAR interviewed one of the female farmers from the FFS to find out how short maturity cassava has provided enough food to her family. Elizabeth Bunuma, is a 46-year-old mother of six children, (four boys and two girls) from Haruzale village, in Bunda district.
Elizabeth has been struggling for years to cultivate maize and traditional cassava in order to meet her household food needs all year round. She says: “My household was food insecure every year because of drought which affects maize and cassava varieties that took too long to mature and were vulnerable to diseases and pests which means the yield wasn’t enough for my household food requirements.”
Elizabeth heard about CPAR’s interventions in her village and she decided to join Chipuka (Sprout) FFS group facilitated by the CPAR Tanzania field staff in collaboration with local facilitators (also trained by CPAR). Elizabeth acknowledges that one of the greatest things she has learned in FFS is about the short maturity cassava which is also disease resistant. After she learned about this cassava variety she started planting them and in a period of 10 months she has already started harvesting cassava. She is now assured of food security at home.
In an interview she added: “I now feel relieved. This new variety of cassava is going to solve my food problems at home. Thank you CPAR Tanzania for bringing this cassava variety to our community and farming education to the women of Haruzale village. Farmers have also benefited from the nutrition training where we learned how to use cassava in different forms for dishes such as cakes and also porridge enriched with local chicken eggs. Our children look much healthier now"
In the future, Elizabeth hopes to be able to sell her crops for a higher price in the market by processing her cassava into cassava chips or white flour.
She is also very keen to share the knowledge about cassava production with other farmers in Haruzale village and nearby villages.
The introduction of this new cassava variety aims to enable 500 households in three communities of Bunda District to be more food secure throughout the year.