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STRONGer than ever

Building the capacity of partners to deliver sustainable and quality services to vegetable farmers

Elias Shem checks a participant’s grafted seedling. It’s important to cut the scion and rootstock at the correct angle so the two sections can form a strong bond.

Under the Sustainable Transformation Opportunity for Partnership and Growth (STRONG) Program, WorldVeg took the opportunity to train 16 trainees (5 Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) agronomists and 11 government extension officers from Arusha and Meru District) in various aspects of vegetable production on 28-29 July 2018 at WorldVeg Eastern and Southern Africa in Arusha.

Farmers incur considerable production losses as a result of soil-borne diseases. For example, in some areas of Zanzibar it is almost impossible for farmers to successfully grow solanaceous crops like tomatoes using traditional production methods. Due to a lack of knowledge, farmers frequently misapply pesticides to control pests in cabbage produced in Arumeru District; this lowers yields, produces lower quality cabbage, limits revenue, and is hazardous to the health of growers, consumers and the environment.

To address these knowledge gaps, WorldVeg organized a practical training course focusing on grafting and protected cultivation in greenhouses and low cost net houses.

The intensive training alternated between classroom sessions, field work and laboratory tasks. In the classroom, the trainees shared their experiences with challenges such as soil-borne diseases and poor weather conditions with WorldVeg staff Elias Shem and Nixon Mlowe, who explained the theory behind the good agricultural practices and encouraged the participants to share the improved practices with the farmers they serve.

The training in tomato grafting was especially helpful for the participants, who were quick to understand the benefits for farmers and eager to try making their own grafted seedlings.  The participants also appreciated the low net tunnel prototypes and indicated they are ready to support trials of the technology with farmers to combat pests, especially in cabbages.

Moving grafted seedlings into the humid and dark healing chamber. Low light conditions and moist air encourage the grafts to heal.

Story and photos: Zablon Ernest

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TAHA agronomist Patrick Munishi prepares seedlings.

Setting up a nursery net shelter to protect seedlings from insects and harsh sunlight.