The InnovAfrica project has conducted field trials on the Brachiaria species in Rungwe District, Tanzania for two seasons running from November 2017. There are two types of trials; researcher-managed trials conducted at the Ilenge Ward Resource Centre and those managed by the farmers.
The on-going InnovAfrica activities are aimed towards improved animal feeding, which has been a major constraint affecting productivity of dairy cattle in the study areas. One of the extension methods that promote the adoption of agricultural innovation are farmer field days. On 19th October 2018, a field day was held at Ilenge village aimed at creating awareness to stakeholders about field experiments on Brachiaria that were undertaken by the InnovAfrica team and to establish linkages among value chain actors for upscaling the technology in Rungwe district.
The field day had 85 participants including 72 dairy farmers of whom 30 were women, local and national MAP members, local NGO representatives such as Heifer East Africa and African Breeds, representatives of Radio Chai and ASAS Dairies and extension officers at both District and village levels.
Introductory remarks were made by Dr Selemani who oversees field trials on Brachiaria, after which the participants paid visits to the researcher-managed trials at Ilenge Ward Resource Centre and trials managed by farms in Ilenge village. The visits gave the participating farmers a chance to share their experiences with the participants on their establishment and management practices, challenges encountered to name a few.
The field visit was concluded with discussions where the participants, mainly the dairy keepers gave recommendations that would enable the scaling up of Brachiaria. The participants additionally raised issues based on the availability of the seeds and storage options for use during the dry seasons. They sought evidence of the extent to which Brachiaria helps to increase milk production, and overall, the participants expressed their satisfaction with the activities undertaken by the InnovAfrica project team; the dairy farmers were eager to start planting Brachiaria.