Tanzania Conference Brings Together Conservation Agriculture Practitioners from Across Africa

Monday, January 23, 2017

A soil sampling lesson takes place at last year’s conservation agriculture conference in Zimbabwe.

Over 150 people representing 15 African countries from Canadian Foodgrains Bank-supported organizations will gather in Arusha, Tanzania at the beginning of February to share learnings and successes around the practice of conservation agriculture.

“This opportunity to bring together practitioners from a variety of contexts and environments across Africa, put them together, and allow them to learn from one another and inspire one another is incredibly exciting,” says Mike Salomons, Foodgrains Bank Agriculture and Livelihoods Technical Advisor.

Conservation agriculture is a farming approach that emphasizes minimal soil disturbance, crop rotations, mulching and cover crops to improve soil health and increase farmer yields.

The upcoming gathering in Tanzania will be the fifth time the network has met together.

Prior to these conferences, explains Salomons, there was no good mechanism in place to allow Foodgrains Bank partner organizations, many of whom work in remote locations, the opportunity to learn from one another’s successes and challenges.

“If one of our partners in Kenya, for example, found a really great way to encourage farmers to gather and use mulch, there was no way for them to share that more broadly,” he says.

“The type of practical learning the conference fosters is invaluable, and is an excellent use of resources.”

Waluza Munthali is a project coordinator with the Synod of Livingstonia Development Department in northern Malawi, a partner of Foodgrains Bank member Presbyterian World Service and Development.

He attended last year’s conference.

“Farmers from this part of the world are affected by similar challenges—floods, dry spells, drought, and high temperatures,” he explains. “Not only is my knowledge of conservation agriculture updated through learning and sharing experiences at the conference, but it motivates me to work hard after I see how other partners are succeeding amidst climate change.”

The conservation agriculture conference is part of an initiative funded through the Foodgrains Bank that supports conservation agriculture work across sub-Saharan Africa. It was also funded in part by the Canadian government through Global Affairs Canada.

–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator