Sorghum field day: Production set to perk up in Rombo District

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Sorghum field day: Production set to perk up in Rombo District

It all began when Mr Michael Shirima, owner of Precision Air (a regional airline company in Tanzania), on hearing about the improved Macia sorghum being promoted by the ICRISAT-HOPE project, bought 30 kg ofseed from Suba-Agro, a private seed company in Tanzania. He planted it on 8 acres of his land in October-November 2011. Next to the sorghum crop, he also seeded a field ofmaize. At harvest time, the sorghum crop was successful but the maize crop failed.

Children tasting a range of nutritious sorghum-based preparations.

This prompted Mr Shirima to host local farmers in a sorghum field day on his farm in Leto village, Rombo District on 20 February to help mitigate the effects of climate change by promoting an alternative to maize in the semi-arid lower zone of the district.

The highlight of the field day was the organoleptic tasting of various drink and food preparations made from Macia sorghum – the local alcoholic brew, uji (porridge), ugali (stiff porridge), mkande (a boiled mixture of sorghum and cowpea grains) and pilau (cooked sorghum

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grain mixed with beef). The participants acknowledged the good

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beer and food qualities of Macia sorghum and showed eagerness to grow it in the next season beginning mid-March.

Farmers tasting foodstuff made from Macia sorghum.

The field day was attended by 100 farmers and extension staff from

Rombo district; Peter Toima, Rombo District Commissioner; Hilary Shirima (representing his brother Michael); Frank Mwandry (Rombo DALDO); Fridah Mgonja (National Coordinator of ICRISAT-HOPE project); Bob Shuma (CEO, Tanzania Seed Traders Association); Daniel Gisiri (MD, Dunia Trust); Mary Mgonja and Patrick Audi (ICRISAT-ESA); and media representatives from Kilimanjaro Region.

Chief Guest Peter Toima said villages in the District, which has a population of 350,000, had experienced total to near failure of maize crop in the last five years, leading to food shortage and the government being called upon to intervene with food aid. He advised local farmers to plant sorghum instead in order to improve food security and farm incomes. The project, in turn will be able to assist them in terms of information on where to buy quality sorghum seed, recommended agronomic practices, various uses of sorghum grain at the household level, and reliable market outlets for their

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Mary Mgonja (ICRISAT) and Fridah Mgonja (ARD, Selian), on the other hand, assured farmers of the availability of adequate quality seed in March and promised targeted training for both farmers and extension workers.