Rose Athumani, Daily News
March 12, 2013
Farmers can now choose the best technology approach from a 'basket of technology options' in an innovative approach to rural development among small scale farmers.
The initiative dubbed the Rural Initiative for Participatory Agricultural Transformation (RIPAT), was launched on Monday by the Danish Rockwool and Research, Community and Organizational Development Associates (RECODA), and is a flexible agricultural extension approach, implemented in Northern Tanzanian since 2006, and which gives farmers a technology options from which they can choose what serves their needs and resources.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Mohammed Muya said the approach was among the emphasis of the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere on the development of agriculture in the country. "Mwalimu Nyerere said farmers should be given technology to make farming easier, while using resources found in local communities," he explained.
The former Arusha Regional Commissioner Mr Isidore Shirima, who has followed implementation of RIPAT during his time in office, said the modern agriculture promoted through RIPAT can produce good yields and so far farmers have testified on raking higher income. Prof Amon Mattee from Sokoine University of Agriculture said the government has been implementing similar approaches but it has not matched expectations.
He said however RIPAT has added value to the current approaches being implemented in the agricultural sector. "The approach gives farmers a choice, not only practical but it creates a big psychological value to farmers, and they have choices rather than receive directives from above," he explained.
The Professor of Food Nutrition and Public Policy at Cornell University, USA, Per Pinstrup-Andersen said RIPAT has been successful and deserves to be replicated in other parts of the country and Africa in general. The new innovative approach to rural development is being implemented by RECODA and the financial and technical support is being provided by the Rockwool Foundation.
In addition to a book on evaluation of the approach, a manual has been published that describes step-by-step how RIPAT projects should be implemented in order to obtain the same results.