The Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) is supporting the establishment of a horticultural practical training facility at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) that will be used as a teaching facility to help the university meet its practical training goals.
The training facility will be able to demonstrate the commercial viability of horticultural production, and run in a self-sustaining way in order to generate some surplus that can be re-invested in its operation.
According to iAGRI’s Project Director, Prof David Kraybill, the training facility will initially be supported by four bodies: SUA, the Tanzania Agriculture Productivity Program (TAPP) the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) and iAGRI. TAPP, TAHA and iAGRI are projects sponsored by the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Feed the Future Initiative (FtF).
While SUA is one of the leading specialized institutions in Africa in the fields of agriculture, veterinary, forestry and related sciences, TAPP is working on increasing incomes, improving nutrition and expanding markets for smallholder farmers by promoting smallholder agriculture as an engine for growth in rural areas throughout Tanzania. On the other hand, TAHA is a private sector member-based organization with the objective of improving the competitiveness of the Tanzanian horticultural sector through strategic and innovative development, and promotion activities.
Prof Kraybill mentioned some of the benefits of the established facility, which are: to offer practical training of SUA students so that they can cope with the fast technological development in the horticultural industry; to train farmers and extension workers by providing realistic demonstration of how to engage in horticultural production commercially and profitably; to generate revenue through selling the crop produce, and; to strengthen linkages with both the public and private sectors in various spheres of agriculture and natural resource management.
The facility, which will be established at SUA’s Horticulture Unit, will consist of a farm installed with drip irrigation kits, high tunnels and reliable water source. While SUA aims at enhancing the food security, income and wellbeing of farmers in Tanzania and elsewhere through research training, this facility will bolster the existing training facilities, especially in the area of horticulture where technological development is evolving fast.
The Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) is a USAID-funded project to prepare the next generation of agricultural and nutrition leaders and strengthen and integrate the core institutions of agricultural research, education, and extension in Tanzania. Ohio State University (OSU) is the managing entity for a consortium of six US universities including Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Tuskegee University, University of Florida, and Iowa State University. Key partners in Tanzania include the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC). The project aims to prepare teachers, researchers and extension practitioners in Tanzania to cooperatively and effectively address needs of smallholder farmers and the growing agribusiness sector and to improve food security for decades to come.