Esther and Nelson Nghumbi have been doing Conservation Agriculture (CA) for 3 years now, with Esther having been recruited by an ‘animator’ in their community called Richard (left in red shirt). The family live in the village of Nzasa north of the Tanzanian capital Dodoma in the dry central area. The family has 5 children – 3 daughters, 2 sons – of whom 2 are still in school and 3 are grown.
Esther, being keen on having better farming techniques in this dry and drought-prone area received training on CA from the Tearfund Canada’s partner DSC- the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Central Tanganyika (DCT). In 2015 Richard and other DSC staff taught Esther how to dig the pits to the right size and spacing, to use manure and ash (soil fertility and to repel termites) in the holes, planting depth for various seeds, and when to weed.
For the 2019 crop seen in the picture above, they are growing pearl millet, along with cowpeas planted later (hardly visible). Although the crop doesn’t look dramatic, it is very healthy compared to traditionally farmed fields that are very stunted and wilted as the area had gone through 4 weeks of dry weather when this picture was taken mid-February.
Last year they grew sorghum, and it was a good crop, but due to good rains it did not appear much better than traditional farming, but it yielded better. From a small plot it yielded 3 bags (300 kg) an exceptional amount, so was a good demonstration of the value of CA farming. Also last year DSC had the family reintroduce a legume called lablab purpureus (common names include hyacinth bean, lablab-bean, dolichos bean) but it did not do so well that 1st year, according to the agronomist, the roots may not have isolated the correct rhizobium species in the soil to make nitrogen efficiently.
The family did appreciate the taste of the lablab… and like others plan to grow it again. DSC plans to do some cooking demonstrations to get people familiarized with a ‘lost’ crop. When Esther was asked if she’d like to make a comment to Canadian donors she replies: