|Seeding a participatory soil and plant health program in Morogoro, Tanzania.|
A. L. TESTEN (1), D. P. Mamiro (2), E. R. Mbega (3), S. A. Miller (1). (1) The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH, U.S.A.; (2) Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania; (3) Agricultural Research Institute Ilonga, Kilosa, Tanzania
Maximizing soil and plant health is essential for global food security, yet farmers in developing regions often lack resources to monitor crop and soil health. In the Morogoro Region of Tanzania, tomato production is constrained by poor soils, diseases, and lack of improved germplasm. Tomato is a major vegetable crop in Tanzania, providing income for farmers and nutrients for local consumers. To enhance regional tomato production, a participatory soil and plant health program is being developed. This program seeks to provide smallholder farmers with tools to monitor and manage the health of soils and crops. A portable soil test kit allows farmers to rapidly and inexpensively perform soil tests, such as pH and EC, allowing for better soil management decisions. Regional tomato disease surveys indicated that important dry season diseases are early blight, Septoria leaf spot, and root knot nematode, while common wet season diseases include bacterial wilt, late blight, and bacterial spot. From these findings, diagnostic guides were created for farmer and extension use. A soil bioassay is being developed to detect common soilborne diseases, and participatory variety selection trials are underway to identify locally acceptable disease resistant tomato varieties. Outcome mapping is being used to track project progress. Altogether, these efforts will lead to increased capacity for smallholder farmers to monitor and improve soil and tomato crop health in the Morogoro Region.