Agricultural Practice

Working with village representatives, MRHP has encouraged farmers to introduce improved agricultural practices to their farms in order to control soil erosion and prevent the leaching of nutrient from the soils, which leads to poor fertility. In an area like Mwanza, which experiences unreliable rainfall and frequent drought, these issues are of prime importance.Farmers in the Mwanza region are very aware of farm water conservation. Ridge farming, with well contoured ridges retain moisture. MRHP has also encourages farmers not to burn stubble after harvesting, as this depletes soil moisture.

Good land preparation early in the season is essential, and farmers are encouraged to plough as soon as the earth has been softened by rainfall, and to replenish soil fertility through simple compost manure production. Farmers are also encouraged to use pesticides, preferably organic, to reduce infestation by aphids and rats, which can devastate a chickpea harvest. They are trained in the cultivation, processing and preservation of pesticidal and antimicrobial plants such as neem, jatropha, sisal and small local peppers known as Pilipili Kichaa. The production of these pesticides can also be used for income generation.

To make the best use of the land, different crops are grown on the same land with, for example, chickpeas sown immediately after the rice harvest, to get maximum use from a single growing season.

Preparing land by hand is both time consuming and extremely hard work, and the use of animal draught power such as oxen can considerably reduce drudgery while working in fields, not only in ploughing but also in planting, weeding and ridging. Few farmers can afford such luxury, but MRHP encourages them to form groups through which they can either buy or hire the animals and implements, and also helps train them on their use.