Separated by a road

Separated by a road

This is the road from Shinyanga rural to Shinyanga town in Tanzania. However, it also contrasts two farmers. On the right, a farmer who used traditional seeds and did not have access to training or fertilizer. On the left, a Geodatics farmer. He has access to specific site advice, an extension officer for training and monitoring and he also has access to hybrid seeds and fertilizer. This road, represents a physical line between the two farmers.

With recent changes in weather, every farmer is worried about their output. The weather and soil condition have not been very helpful in taking away this worry from the farmer.

As a result, Geodatics was able to identify a gap in the farming sector. A lot of farmers have access to farm inputs but they did not have a partner who would give them specific site advice that would increase their yield. Geodatics then decided to fill the gap by forming a product that would cater to a farmers specific needs, based on historical farming practices and geographical location.

In August 2016, Geodatics and Agrics Tanzania set out on a recruitment drive for farmers who would be the pioneering group under the Geodatics project. Geodatics embedded itself within the Agrics Tanzania model, of offering farm input bundle on credit. Farmers could get access to hybrid maize seed, fertilizers and season long tailor made scientific advice with ambition to increase the yield of the different farms across Shinyanga.

Geodatics, creates a farmer profile by use of geodata, historical weather and yield data. We then offer specific fertilizer nutrient advice to our farmers. Our farmers so far are better for it. Quite often, the difference between two farmers is difficult to quantify, and this is primarily because of distances that may hamper close evaluation of two farms. In Shinyanga Rural however, we came across contrasting farmer expectations and farmer plots. The hopes, the ambitions and outlook of the year we separated by just a road.

The image below shows the farmer field to the right side of the road. The field is sparsely populated with crop and also, the crop color for this time of season is not the ideal green. Visible as well is the lack of weeding on this plot.

Farmers who signed up for the Geodatics program however, have greener crops, an indication of sufficient nitrogen levels and also, have fields with a denser plant population. Training of the farmers on good agricultural practice is evident on these field. You can see that the crops were spaced and the resultant potential yield is clear.

The crops in the fields, despite many challenges, are performing well but this is just the beginning. We will continue to journey with them and support farmers every season by combining geodata, soil nutrition and training components to continuously increase yields. We hope to cross the road in the coming year and bridge the gap between hunger and bounty.

Posted on: 27 March 2017