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Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies (Tanzania)

Photo: Raymond Jumah 

Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies (SILT) is a project producing geographically-specific information campaigns, targeting small-scale farming families, delivered just ahead of the legume planting seasons.

SILT is delivered with the financial support of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Government of Canada, provided through Global Affairs Canada. The project is jointly led by three members of the Tanzania Legume Alliance – Farm Radio International, CABI and The African Fertilizer and Agri-business Partnership (AFAP). The SILT project is delivered by a large group of partners including a number of international organisations.

The assumption behind the project is that if organisations promoting legume technologies collaborate, it is an effective way of presenting coherent, economically viable technical option to small-scale farming families. The economies of scale, gained from the consortium approach, mean that the organisations can develop a variety of media including print and radio to support traditional extension approaches, including demonstration plots and training days.

All campaign materials are based on the same technical brief, so that messages across all the media remained consistent and coherent on a crop-by-crop basis. The selection of media and the editing process creates nuanced information that targets specific members of the households in an inclusive way. For example radio content may be edited to address concerns of different household members; comics can use language and story lines designed to attract young people, posters in agro-dealers can target household heads. The impact of the project should be to improve production of legumes for both household consumption (food and nutritional security) and sale. Furthermore the good agricultural practices being promoted are part of an approach called integrated soil fertility management – which will ensure that the soil is not depleted of nutrients.

The research activity will test the cost effectiveness of the information campaign approach,  targeting, as it does, multiple points of entry in small-scale farming families. It will review whether this approach can achieve wider-scale uptake of legume technologies and the impact these campaigns have of the quality of decisions taken by small scale farmers producing common legumes. Such decisions include variety selection, agronomic practices, fertilizer use, storage and link with markets. The research will also look for evidence that empowering young people and women, in particular,  with technical agricultural information has an impact on the decision-making processes in familes. Finally the research will seek to determine if particular combinations of media and promotional approaches work in particular context and to package these research finding to support policy and practice developments.

The project started in November 2015 and a partnership inception event and launch was held in February 2016. However, the pilot campaign activity undertaken by the Legume Alliance partners early in 2015 ensured meant the partners were ready with a common campaign in place by the end of February 2015 planting season in northern Tanzania.

Progress from November 2015- June 2016

Project management:

  • The inception meeting  allowed the partners to develop strategies covering research and monitoring learning and evaluation , communications, scale-up and gender. The launch attracted national and regional government representatives both of whom spoke enthusiastically about the project. Whilst the meeting was largely conducted in English the panel discussion was in Kiswahili and was recorded by Radio 5 for use in future programs.
  • The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) awarded SILT a research permit
  • Farm Radio International has sub-contracts in place with  with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Agricultural Seed Agency for their roles.
  • ASHC/CABI and IITA led bid for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa funds, for a project called Gender and the Legume Alliance this makes additional funds available to deliver detailed research
  • AFAP, CABI and FRI produced a full technical report for IDRC
  • CABI and FRI jointly facilitated and documented the first annual review meeting.

Radio listening group mainly men credit Farm Radio International

A radio listening group set up by Farm Radio International (photo: FRI)

Common bean campaigns 1 and 2: 

  • Farm Radio International has coordinated, trained and contracted the first two radio campaigns in partnership with Radio 5 based in Arusha region and Radio HabariNjema FM based in Manyara region. The specific common bean technologies now include less emphasis on improved varieties and more focus on storage and good agronomic practices, in response to the acute shortage of improved seed this season. By the end of the series around 500 farmer interactions happened each week in response to the questions posed.
  • The ASHC/CABI team has developed a full set of SMS’s that mirror the radio shows. A research pilot is looking at how SMS and radio work together and the optimum number of SMSs that are require to impact on awareness, attitude and behaviour. Three groups have been selected: the first is encouraged by SMS to listen to the radio.  In addition to being encouraged to listen to the radio the second group recieved 80-90 SMSs and the final group received 50 messages, based on the most requested information. Each group consists of 500 farmers drawn from the Legume Alliance database 3,000 legume farmers who completed a 15 minute telephone interview.
  • The Africa Fertilizer and Agri-business Partnership (AFAP) coordinated the planting of 16 one-acre common bean demonstration plots showcasing either Uyole Njano and Jesca. The demonstration plots were managed by the local agricultural extension, staff supported by the district and regional extension staff and AFAP.
  • AFAP held 15 farmer-field days attracting some 1,133 farmers in total 

SILT 2016 AFAP - Ifwagi farmer field day


AFAP training days 2016

  • CABI developed printed material to support the farmer-field days which was distributed to 1,508 farmers.
  • Agricultural Seed Agency planted 300 hectares of four different varieties for bean seed multiplication in Arusha (Lyamungu 85 and 90, Jesca and Njano Uyole)
  • ASA has identified 50 agro-dealers to sell common  bean seed to farmers. In some areas like Babati (Bashnet) and Karatu, the project has identified big farmers to act as agents for the seed distributions. ASA will continue to identify more agro-dealers.
  • IITA has recruited research students. 4 out 5 places were awarded to women, on merit- they will be exploring how the campaign elements work together to influence farming families.

Shujaaz with MushiShujaaz common bean campaign 

 Soyabean campaigns 1 & 2: 

  • ASHC and IITA facilitated the development of a soyabean technology brief using a write-shop process
  • FRI has signed an agreement with the Catholic Relief Service for radio campaigns on soyabean in the Southern Highlands. This represents a cost-effective way of reaching more farmers with more information – an example of synergy in practice.


  • AFAP led work to map out the policy gaps relating to farmers accessing improved legume technologies and quality standards for seed, inoculant, and fertilizer for legumes. The partners have identified other key players promoting legume technologies a policy forum/dialogue.

Work plan to November 2016

SILT partners meeting March 2017

SILT partners meeting March 2017

Project management:

  • All partners to contribute to the second technical progress report
  • All partners to finalise strategies and review them in relation to the delivery plans

 Common bean campaign 3:

  • Farm Radio International to develop one interactive radio campaign in the Southern Highlands including radio listening groups
  • Shujaaz to develop, publish and distribute comics, youth radio and Facebook campaigned
  • CABI to developed, published and distributed point of sale material
  • CABI to ensure distribution of additional Shujaaz comics and relevant printed materials according to the research design
  • AFAP to communicate with the local governments on possible sites for the demonstration plots in 2016/2017 farming season
  • AFAP to train village-based extension staff and agrodealers
  • ASA to produce 2 tonnes of certified seed produced


  • Farm Radio International to develop two interactive radio campaign in the Southern Highlands including radio listening groups
  • CABI to work with FIPS-Africa to develop plans for an extension pilot
  • ASA to identify soyabean seed sources
  • AFAP to communicate with the local governments on possible sites for the demonstration plots in 2016/2017 farming season
  • ASA to commission training for Quality Declared Seed producers


  • CABI and IITA to finalise the groundnut technical brief

Policy development: 

  • AFAP to lead on policy forum meeting on seed and fertilizer supply and use
  • AFAP to lead on drafting of first policy brief produced

Monitoring learning and evaluation:

  • Farm Radio International report on radio programs and use of ICTs/interactivity on common bean 1 and 2
  • AFAP to report on the trials and field days on common bean
  • ASHC/CABI to report on the FIPS-Africa extension pilot on common bean
  • All partners estimate the reach and impact of the first campaigns
  • IITA and universities work with MSc students to clarify their research topics – the research proposals for at least two of the students will be finalized  and research activities started
  • iLogix will initiated research into attitudes and behaviours to improved soyabean technology inputs (seed, fertilizer, inoculant, storage) and good agricultural practices

In the delivery of the work plan the partners have identified a series of challenges that need to be addressed:

Challenge          Action 

Shortage of seed

This has been identified as a major issue for the policy strand of the work plan. The partners are working to identify current seed stocks for the upcoming planting season.

The February 2015 campaign focused on a broader sweep of technologies including post-harvest storage, in addition to the agronomic messages, rather than promoting new seed varieties.


Local ownership versus consistent messaging

The technical brief for common beans is being reviewed and work will continue with the technical brief for groundnuts and soybean. Radio programs will be reviewed by content experts regularly for accuracy of technical content, as well as for quality standards, and where necessary, inconsistencies in the messaging will be addressed on air and by SMS.


Absorbing lessons from one campaign before the next season starts

SILT is implementing annual reviews and monthly Skype meetings to help ensure that the lessons are captured in real time to better inform the planning and implementation.


Unreliable rainfall patterns

Discuss with farmers and visitors to demo sites rainfall patterns and crop performance. Ensure enough demos are planted to provide a good chance that a high percentage will perform sufficiently well

ASHC project delivery team Project manager: James Watiti. The team includes: Stephanie Gakau, Abigael Mchana, George Oduor, Dannie Romney and Duncan Sones 

Farm Radio project delivery team Project Executive: Karen Hampson, Project manager G N Nderingo. The team includes: Mary Sengelela

IITA project delivery team  Principle investigator Cargele Masso. The team includes Fredrick Baijukya, Edward Baars, Renee Bullock and Paul Dontsop with Bernard Vanlauwe and Moses Thuita in advisory roles.

SILT News link 

  • 2 June 2017 News  Soybean demo training attracts farmers  Usually  farming season in the Southern Highlands starts from November/December  but this year it was as late as January. This was a salutary reminder for the SILT team of the impact of climate uncertainty on small-scale farmers in Africa.
  • 7 April 2017 bloScaling-up soybean: “Mother-Baby” demos The SILT delivery team shares work from FIPs-Africa to create over 2,000 on farm soybean demos in Tanzania
  • 20 March 2017 blog ASA in Tanzania: Seeds of Success  Charles Levi of the Agricultural Seed Agency in Tanzania spells out the progress to make improved seed more readily available to farmers…
  • 2 March 2017 Funders visit SILT demo plots and seed growers The SILT partners in Tanzania are hosting Wendy Manchur and Jemimah Njuki from the projects funder IDRC
  • 28 February 2017 blog  The right wave length: 70,000 radio interactions in Tanzania Farm Radio International reflects on the level of interactivity in the radio programs in the legume campaigns in Tanzania
  • 26 February 2017 blog SILT demo plots help close the yield gap AFAP share progress from the demo plots and how they are starting to impact on farmer’s practice
  • 23 February 2017 blog Maximising partnerships to scale-up legume technologies in Tanzania  James Watiti and the CABI team explain how partnership working brings added benefits to a campaign approach
  • 20 February 2017  Update from the SILT MSc students in Tanzania  Masso, Cargele, from IITA, updates us on the MSc research work happening in Tanzania: It good to report that all of the SILT (Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies) students are making strong progress with their research.
  • 20 December 2016 news Seed production starts to address chronic shortage How the SILT projects new partners work to address the legume seed shortage in Tanzania
  • 1 December 2016 blog IITA maps out its role in SILT research In this blog Dr Cargele Masso sets out the role being played by IITA to help make the Scaling-Up Improved Legume Technologies (SILT) project a success
  • 25 November 2016 The Shujaaz Legume Alliance campaign The Legume Alliance contacted Shujaaz to see if we could make bean farming ‘cool’ again! This was no easy challenge. Our recent national survey showed that young Tanzanian’s are far from embracing the opportunities available to them in agriculture: “When you tell us to go do agriculture it is like someone has insulted you and you can even take them to court!” (female field test participant)
  • 25 November 2016 (updated May 2017) AFAP common bean farmer field days attract young farmers Young farmers – under the age of 35 – were the predominant group attending the farmer field days at the common bean demonstration plots this season. In seven of the 15 field days – under 35 year olds made up over 90% of the attenders. Overall 86% of the farmers attending the training days were under 35.
  • 24 November 2016 news: 500,000 comics share common bean messages The Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies team has been working with Well Told Story publishers of the highly success Shujaaz comic.  At the end of October 500,000 comics were distributed in Tanzania. Around 70,000 copies of the comic were slipped into the popular sports newspaper Mwanasporti.
  • 8 November 2016 news: Food Lab meets the Legume Alliance  A Leadership Summit organized by the Sustainable Food Lab visited Farm Radio International yesterday to explore the work of the Legume Alliance
  • 1 November 2016 news Is there anybody out there? 500,000 potential listeners… Producing a series of radio coverage maps is the first step towards estimating the size of the range and reach for Farm Radio International’s partner broadcasters. This methodology provides reliable estimates of potential listeners, actual listeners, and a radio station’s broadcast zone.
  •  20 October 2016 news Women and youth targeted with common bean info Partners in the Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies (SILT) project are looking at ways to ensure that messages on growing common beans reach interested farmers – especially women and young people in Tanzania.
  • 1 October 2016 news: SILT explores policy bottlenecks for legume farmer  The Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies project in Tanzania is supporting soybean and common bean farmers to access improved inputs and information on the methods that will maximize profit.
  • 29 September 2016 news Championing radio… Karen Hampson reports: Today I got an email from David Mowbray, a Farm Radio Associate, who had been attending the 50th Anniversary Conference for CIMMYT, in Mexico. In a conference session yesterday afternoon, Ken Giller delivered a key note speech entitled Systems agronomy: From fields to farms and farming systems.
  • 20 September 2016 news Legume Alliance busy week in Arusha…  A series of meetings will seek to push forward two programs that are looking at support for common bean and soybean growers in Tanzania.
  • 6 September 2016 news SILT seed policy meeting SILT  have set the date for their first policy workshop. The meeting will take place on 26 September in Arusha
  • 1 September 2016 news  SILT Gender plan “very strong” says funder Following a number of workshops and an internal review of the scaling-up legume technologies (SILT) strategies, the partners produced a revised gender plan
  • 4 August 2016 blog  Shujaaz seeks out young bean farmers… In September and October 2015 the team at Shujaaz in Tanzania developed two stories about what they call Hustlers who made money from common beans.

Useful resources:

A full list of Legume Alliance partners in Tanzania and the roles their organisations play