Farming practicePush-Pull in practice

UPSCALE MAC Meeting in Tanzania, May 2021

As part of the EU-funded UPSCALE project, the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) held another one-day MAC meeting. The meeting was held on 21st May 2021 at the Africa Inland Church Tanzania (AICT) – Agroforestry training center, Musoma District, Mara region.

Participants at the MAC meeting were national and international, such as researchers, extension personnel, policymakers, government agencies, faith communities, farmers, and non-governmental organizations whereas representatives from Maseno University and other UPSCALE partners participated virtually. The meeting was organized by the TARI team under the lead of UPSCALE National Coordinator Dr. Everina Lukonge, others are Dr. Ignath Rwiza, Ms. Adventina Babu,  Ms. Agnes Kapingu, Ms. Mwanjia Hassan,  Mr. Richman Ndole, Mr. Vedastus Chacha, and Mr. Zephania Budodi.

The key objectives of the meeting were to organize and engage different stakeholders (Multi-Actor Community of practice -MACs) on the process for effective transdisciplinary collaboration and participatory research and technology implementation; strengthen functional linkages between UPSCALE research and innovation activities and farmers and other stakeholders; identify best practices transformative transdisciplinary research; enabling policy environment for institutionalized dissemination and adoption of Push-Pull as well as expansion of push-pull success and its impacts across scales, providing feedback, and supporting its uptake and spread of its benefits.

The meeting resulted in the formation and engagement of the MAC management team, including the following positions: the chairperson Dr. Emmanuel Sokombi, assistant Chairperson Ms. Mwajuma John, the secretary Ms. Adelina Mfikwa and members including  Mr. Wilbert Makoka, Mr. Obedient Kasaizi, Mr. Rogat Molel, Dr. George Sonda, Dr. Ignath Rwiza and Mr. Kelvin Ruge. A schedule of activities and the MACs terms of reference were also established, as well as an agreement that the MAC team will assist the UPSCALE consortium with implementing ‘push and pull’ advocacy events.

As part of the meeting agenda, the participants visited the push-pull fields in order to have more insight into the Push-Pull technology and its impacts. Considering the evidence of the impact that push-pull has, and its benefits to farmers’ livelihood, the following are the testimonials of the researcher and champion farmers who implemented push-pull technology for more than 9 years.

Ms. Mwajuma John Shaban (farmer)

“Before I started using push pull technology, I got small produce in large area of land that made me economically poor. After practicing Push-pull technology in my farm the production raised from 300kg to 1100 kg. on a farm of half acre. Other benefits of Push Pull technology in my farm include increased soil fertility, controlled soil erosion and pest control. I am happy with the technology, now I produce maize at low cost and I have managed to built a good three room house. I have also started producing vegetables such as cabbages using push-pull technology.”

Ms. Mwajuma John Shaban (farmer)

Mr. James Magori Nyamtengera (farmer)

“Presence of Striga weed slowed down cereal production especially maize in my farm. When I started practising Push-pull technology which has desmodium species planted between rows of maize, germination of striga weed were stopped and my farm became free from striga. That is when I realized that Push-Pull is surely an effective technology against striga weed, the effectiveness of the technology resulted to the increase of maize yield of which in turn I availed with sufficient food and excess was sold for getting income or cash. Though the rain at my place is not assured, we normally receive irregular rains, my farm continued performing well due to the presence of desmodium which act as a cover crop. Lastly I always use desmodium and brachiaria mulato II to feed my livestock, That has increased milk production. Before I started practising Push-Pull technology and feeding my cow with fodder from push-pull, I was getting one litre of milk per cow, now I am getting 3 litres per cow per day.”

Mr. James Magori Nyamtengera (farmer)

Dr. Arnold Mushongi (National Maize Coordinator - TARI)

Dr. Mushongi asked a farmer on how they select maize seeds at the time of planting. Ms. Mwajuma Shaban a farmer from Kibubwa village in Butiama district responded that “they are using improved seeds from agrodealers and not selections from their harvest to avoid poor performance of the crop.
She continued explaining that “Improved seeds together with push pull technology increase more yield in the push pull farms compared with local varieties which has low yield and less resistant to field calamities”. Improved seed grow faster, they also adapt better to different stresses and they produce larger fruit or grain which result to higher yield, disease resistance and longer shelf life than local varieties.

Dr. Arnold Mushongi (National Maize Coordinator – TARI)

Push-Pull Technology has been implemented in the Mara region, a site that has been selected for implementation of the UPSCALE Project by TARI’s scientists and agricultural extension agents. The impacts of the technology have been clearly observed through positive changes which have been made on farmer’s livelihood which include food assurance through the increase of maize yield from 100-300kgs/acre to 1,800-2,200kgs/acre. The increase in yield was a result of insect pests and striga weed reduction in farmers’ fields and an increase in soil fertility.

The Push-pull technology increased the income of farmers by selling companion plants such as brachiaria mulato II, napier grass, and desmodium green leaf. Brachiaria was also used to feed cow where the milk obtained per day increased from 1.5-3.0 liters. By selling these products farmers were able to increase their income which enabled some of them to build good houses, farm implements, small milling machines, and paying school fees for their children. In the UPSCALE project area, the number of Push-pull farmers is expected to more than double from the current number of 154 to more than 2,000 by the end of the 5-year project implementation period. This technology will be promoted by the UPSCALE Consortium, TARI, and other national partners with the aim to provide enough information and evidence through baseline and MAC meetings to support effective interventions to facilitate the spread of push-pull technology across the country in the coming five years.

The Regional Agriculture Advisor closed the conference by mentioning that Push-Pull is an important technology for our crops especially maize and livestock, he urged the District Agriculture, Irrigation and Coorperatives officers (DAICOs) who attended the conference to train agriculture extension agents in their respective districts and to ensure they establish at least one Push-Push demonstration plot in each ward. In his opinion, this will accelerate the dissemination and a large number of farmers will adapt the technology.