Digital extension tools thrill dignitaries at annual national farmers’ exhibition in Tanzania
The digital extension tools and other technologies developed by CGIAR-IITA received wide attention in an exhibition at the recently concluded National Farmers’ Exhibition in Tanzania. IITA and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector showcased innovative technologies at the annual exhibition, which took place in Simiyu region, northern Tanzania, on 1-8 August. The theme of this year’s event was “Agricultural, livestock and fisheries development, choose the best leaders in 2020”.
Various dignitaries who visited IITA’s exhibition stand commended the innovations, which aim to address challenges facing agriculture. The Institute’s exhibition focused on digital extension tools that aim to support farmers and extension officers to access knowledge, information resources, and technologies needed to achieve success in farming. The tools displayed include the Cassava Seed Tracker, a web-based platform that links cassava seed producers with regulators and farmers; AKILIMO tools, which provide farmers with agronomic recommendations; and NURU app developed in partnership with Penn State University, USA, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help farmers accurately diagnose important cassava pests and diseases.
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Japhet Hasunga and Gerald M. Kusaya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, were among those who visited the IITA booth Impressed with the technologies, they hinted about inviting IITA for collaborative talks with the ministry to tackle some of the principal challenges facing farmers.
The AKILIMO decision support tools and NURU app impressed another visitor, Tanzania’s Attorney General, Prof Adelardus Kilangi, who is also a cassava farmer. He said he would use these to extend his farm size to 100 acres.
Other visitors included Geoffrey Mkamilo and Yohana Budeba, the General Director and Board Chairman, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI); the Hon. Hussein Bashe, and Hon. Mwita Waitara, Assistant Ministers of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, respectively, and Gabriel Rugalema, Director, World Vegetable Center, Eastern and Southern Africa. Also, hundreds of farmers, students, researchers, and private sector players visited the stand.
Country Coordinator of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) and acting Country Representative, Freddy Bijukya, led the IITA team on behalf of Eastern Africa Hub.
Other technologies showcased by IITA included AflasafeTZ, the effective biocontrol product that reduces aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnut by 80 to 90%. IITA Tanzania Youth Agripreneurs were also present and highlighted their activities in attracting youth to agriculture, their various agribusinesses, and their products.
Other members of the IITA team included Bahati Maregeri, Assistant Projects Manager with the Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security Project; Veronica Kebwe, chair of the Tanzania Youth Agripreneurs; and Mzanda Abubakar of ACAI. Neema Mbilinyi and Juma Yabeja, under the Building an Economically-Sustainable Seed System in Tanzania for Cassava (BEST Cassava), showcased the NURU app and the Cassava Seed Tracker, respectively.