What inspires farmers and why is their job so important? Regina Mwashilemo explains:
Regina Mwashilemo, a crop and livestock farmer in Veyula village, Dodoma, Tanzania, supports five children and two grandchildren on just a few acres of land. The area in which Regina hopes to grow her crops is barren and dusty. “The weather this year is not like any other I have ever seen since I came to Dodoma; this is the most severe. And I don’t get it, up to now I cannot tell you for certainty whether the rain will come or not, because what I’m used to is it always rains on time. . I know it’s a very severe drought, a very severe drought this year,” she says.
“I’ve really tried to plant maize, but it’s been difficult because after planting the maize just dries up,” she says. “And when the maize dries up, I don’t get anything. It was then that I decided to shift from sowing maize, to sunflower, sorghum and other crops like cassava, which can at least resist the drought”
The situation in this region of Tanzania has become increasingly desperate. As Regina says: “With the way things are, we plead with the government to intervene, particularly these sides of Dodoma, because things are really terrible. So terrible, severe famine.” Her cows are also suffering now because there is little fodder for them to eat.
As maize is her most profitable crop, Regina is keen to try again if either the drought relents or she can get access to more drought-tolerant maize varieties, such as those being developed by the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. “ If I can get seeds for some good drought-resistant maize, I will go back to growing maize,” she says. “Growing maize has been too hard for me after the drought here in Dodoma. I really need these WEMA seeds, and if they can give me just enough to plant, I will grow maize again so it can sustain me better.”
Excerpted with permission from the Cornell Alliance for Science website