Written by Dismas Mwaseba, Sokoine University,
A meeting marking the kick-off of InnovAfrica project in Tanzania was held at the University of Dar es Salaam’s Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, College of Engineering and Technology from 8-11 August 2017.
The four-day meeting attracted over 20 participants from Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries as well as teams from Lindi and Rungwe District Councils. Each district council team consisted of one district extension officer, one agro dealer, and two farmers. Other participants included: researchers from Agricultural Research Institute (ARI)-Naliendele and ARI-Uyole; a representative from the non-profit organization Research Community and Organizational Development Associates (RECODA); a representative from Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI); the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU); and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA).
The official opening of the meeting and inauguration of InnovAfrica was done by Prof. Esron Karimuribo, Director of Postgraduate Studies, Research and Innovation at SUA. He thanked the project sponsors and assured researchers the continued support and cooperation from SUA. Prof. Ruth Haug from NMBU gave a vote of thanks.
The project team introduced InnovAfrica’s objectives, approaches, and planned work packages to the participants. Project sites and activities to be conducted in each site were also presented and discussed. Representatives of the various categories of participants including—multi-actor platform (MAP) members, farmers, extension staff, and TOSCI representatives—gave presentations on the mandate of their organisations, indicating their interest, linkage with and possible ways of getting involved in the project.
The kick-off meeting included a one-day field visit to Kibaha, 30 km west of Dar es Salaam. The participants met and held discussions with dairy farmers and staff from Kibaha Education Centre responsible for dairy farming. During the visit to Kibaha participants observed that there is a huge opportunity to improve cattle feeding through improved pasture production in the area. In addition, participants gave their comments on the proposed one-year project work plan.
Participants highlighted the need for the InnovAfrica project country team to carry out extensive consultations with key actors in respective project areas including regional and district authorities before project implementation. They also emphasised the need to establish local MAPs in each project location for key actors already active on the ground and to time project activities based on local cropping seasons.
Dr. Kissa Kajigili, the head of Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries who is also a MAP member officially closed the meeting. She was happy to note that the project will cover Lindi region located in the southern part of the country—which despite its high agricultural potential has had limited research and development interventions—and guaranteed government support to the project.