Devotha Joseph Mwazembe is a recent graduate and Cohort IV student sponsored by iAGRI to attend Tuskegee University. She pursued an MSc in Agronomy at the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Her research focused on modeling the impact of projected climate change on maize production in the Kiteto maize belt in Kongwa, Tanzania.
Climate change has an enormous impact on the lives of people and on ecosystems. The average global temperature has increased by 1 degree in the last 30 years. For farmers who produce crops for both home consumption and for income-generation, climate change mitigation strategies are key to ensuring continued production. “Climate change has affected crop production in Tanzania, including the production of maize, which is the staple crop. There is a need to assess the impact of current and future production challenges due to climate change and to develop adaptive strategies to ensure sustainable production and food security,’’ she stated in a recent interview.
No stranger to the impact that climate can have on crop farming communities; Devotha was raised in Mbozi village in Mbozi District in the Mbeya region of Tanzania. Primarily in areas where maize and beans were the principle crops, Devotha witnessed how devastating the impact of climate change could be on smallholder farmers. Her research findings provide projections of maize production up to the end of the century. Her research showed a negative impact due to climate change for most producers in the village, a finding she hopes to encourage policymakers and stakeholders within the agriculture sector to develop adaptive strategies to overcome the effect of crop losses.
Devotha developed her research topic with support from her supervisors Dr. Ramble Ankumah, a Professor of Environmental Science and Assistant Dean, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences at Tuskegee University and Prof. Filbert Rwehumbiza at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). Her research aims to contribute towards the existing understanding of climate impacts on maize production and to test the use of crops models to give address potential adaptation strategies for sustainable maize area production.
“I have benefited a lot from iAGRI’s support. I have gained skills in crop modelling, which is not so common in Tanzania. I have also obtained Geographical Information System (GIS) skills and computer programming. These skill can be applied as a tool to address challenges in crop and environment management. ”
Today, Devotha is confident that the combination of skills she acquired and her research will help her to contribute towards enhancing the understanding the use of crop models as tools for decision making. She hopes that she can use her experience to improve efforts to achieve the mitigation of the impact of climate change for farming communities and to enhance sustainable crop production in Tanzania.