Report on agronomic practices and soil fertility analysis for improved maize production in Kiteto and Kongwa Districts in Tanzania

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


USAID & Feed the Future


As the pillar of both the domestic and the export economy, the agricultural sector in Tanzania engages about 80 percent of the labor force. The Tanzania’s agriculture economy is dominated by food production which accounts for about 85 percent of over 5 million hectares cultivated per year. Maize is the most important staple food in Tanzania and in the East Africa region in general. In Tanzania, it accounts for 31 per cent of the total food production and constitutes more than 75 per cent of the cereal consumption in the country. The crop is cultivated on an average of two million hectares, which is about 45% of the cultivated area in Tanzania (Katinila et al., 1998). Maize represents about 30 per cent of the value of crop production in the country and 10 per cent of total value added in agricultural sector respectively (Sassi, 2004). The crop provides 60% of dietary calories and more than 50% of utilizable protein to the Tanzanian population. Maize is not only a staple crop in surplus regions but a cash crop as well. About 85% of the maize produced in Tanzania is grown by peasants whose farms are less than 10 ha. Smallholder productivity is very low and highly variable, ranging from 0.01t/ha to 6.77t/ha, averaging 1.19t/ha. This low level of productivity is said to be due to low levels of education, lack of extension services, limited capital, land fragmentation, and unavailability and high input prices (Msuya et al, 2008) Studies carried out by Isinika et al (2003) and MAFC (2006) show that smallholder maize productivity in the country is suffering due to the fact that, most smallholders do not practice high-yield farming methods, and produce mainly for subsistence. The Poverty and Human Development Report of 2007 (R&AWG, 2007) showed that 87 percent of Tanzanian farmers interviewed by the research and analysis group under Tanzania's NSGRP said that they were not using chemical fertilizers; 77 percent said that they were not using improved seeds; 72 percent said that they were not using pesticides, herbicides or insecticides (agrochemicals), due to the high costs of agricultural inputs and services. Kongwa and Kiteto maize farmers are not exceptional. To increase maize productivity under small scale farming, identification of gaps between what is recommended to exploit the production potential and what is practiced by small scale farmers is required. This report covers a work done in maize producing areas of Kongwa district in Dodoma region and Kiteto district in Manyara region of Tanzania. The two districts share a common border. The report is a prelude to a soil test exercise which intends to assist in providing site specific soil fertility status and recommendations for soil and fertilizers management in the identified maize producing areas of Kongwa and Kiteto districts. Specifically, the report covers: a) a review of current fertilizer and soil management recommendations for maize in the study area; b) a review of current maize farming practices and their effect on soil fertility depletion in the study area; c) an analysis of soil variability within the study area in order to establish different sampling units (sites); and d) site specific fertility status and management recommendations for improved maize production based on soil test results.



Soil fertility analysis, Improved maize production, Kiteto District, Kongwa Districts, Tanzania, Agronomic practices