Tikondane farmer field school (FFS) members of Mtipasonjo village, group Mbalame, T/A Kadewere in Chiradzulu District, are singing joyful songs after one year of joining farmer field school. The members joined farmer field school in October 2019. The members wanted to address the problem of dryness in their field during winter season and fall army worm damages. During the 2019/2020 season the group did studies focusing on fall armyworm management. In the just ended winter season, the group applied lessons from the study of using neem on fall armyworm. Over the years, most of the members have been experiencing dryness in fields during winter such that, whenever they have irrigated the moisture was not staying for long hours during the day. This caused them to spend much of their time watering the crops for almost each and every day and others twice a day.

The members with the help of community-based facilitator designed two plots one with residue cover and the other with no cover. These plots were in 10m by 20m in size and they planted maize on a spacing of 75cm ridges, 25cm between planting stations and one plant per planting station. This practice of planting one plant per station was not their way of planting maize but they also learnt from the KULIMA BETTER project. The group meet once every week to collect data on the studies using agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA) tool that also helps them to make good decisions.

“We always come early in the morning once every week to collect field data. Basically, we will measure how the crop is growing and monitor pest and diseases.

The FFS have now completed the study and according to the data they were collecting they can see that the covering field can conserve moisture as they have seen witnessed themselves. After gaining the knowledge the school invited non-members from the surrounding villages to share with them what they have learnt but the only thing that limited the numbers was corvid 19 which made the school to only invite few people from each village.  “Am very happy for what my people are learning from this project and I am pleading with ActionAid to spread the FFS in the whole area, myself I love to join in one of these schools” said GVH Mbalame

The FFS has now harvested the field, from the covered plot they got 149kg and 119kg on un mulched plot. The FFS have agreed that each member should have covered field to practice what they have learnt and see if this is indeed working on conserving the moisture.