The N2Africa project has made tremendous strides in bringing together a wide range of partners from the public and private sectors to jointly promote innovative technologies to increase the production of grain legumes in Tanzania. This was emphasized in the presentations and discussions of the project implementing team and partners during an annual planning and review workshop held at IITA-Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on 29-30 September.
The project, “Putting nitrogen fixation to work for Africa’s smallholder farmers” or N2Africa, is seeking to improve the production of legumes not only to boost the food security and income of rural smallholder farmers but also to improve the soils to increase the productivity of other crops. Secondly, it seeks to improve farmers’ health and nutrition by improving diets. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, N2Africa began its second phase in January 2014.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa, noted that N2Africa is a very important project for IITA because of its efforts to improve agricultural productivity and tackle the challenges of hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
“There is a big gap between the yields in research fields and in farmers’ fields, and legumes can play a big role in reducing this yield gap through fixing nitrogen,” he said.
This was echoed by Frederick Baijukya, the N2Africa Country team leader for Tanzania: “Legumes are an engine to intensify and diversify farming systems of smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa. They can improve productivity and also provide food and protein, income, and animal feed. N2Africa is using technologies assembled from different research institutions and advancing these technologies to farmers”.
In Tanzania, the project team and partners are focusing on pilot testing various improved technologies to boost legume production. These include new improved varieties that are high yielding, good and innovative agricultural management practices such as the appropriate use of fertilizers as well as postharvest management and processing technologies.
The project is also testing innovative technologies to disseminate and create awareness and promote adoption among smallholder farmers including the use of radio and mobile applications.
The meeting brought together all the current and potential partners of the project and implementing staff drawn from the national agricultural research institutes, NGOs, and the private sector. Also present at the meeting were the project’s overall Coordinator, Fred Kanampiu; Monitoring & Specialist, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye; and Senior Business Development Officer, Edward Baars.