Five faculty members in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) are currently collaborating with partners in Tanzania on a project titled “Improving Rural Outreach Capacity in Tanzania: A Pilot Curriculum Reform Initiative to Increase Relevance of Trainer Training.” The project, partially funded by the Office of Outreach and Engagement and the Ohio State-led Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), seeks to improve the overall quality of training for agricultural extension workers in Tanzania and, in turn, enhance food security and improve livelihoods.
A major goal of the Tanzanian extension service is to improve the agricultural productivity of the more than 75 percent of the nation’s 46 million inhabitants who reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture as their main form of livelihood. These extension workers are trained at one of Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture Technical Institutes (MATIs). Through the MATIs, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries (MAFC) trains frontline extension workers at the Certificate and Diploma levels, who then are deployed at the village, ward and district levels to provide extension delivery to these rural populations, especially smallholder farmers.
However, concerns have been expressed by MALF, Ministry of Local Government and other external stakeholders about the quality of the graduates being produced through the MATIs and their lack of skills necessary for contributing to agricultural and rural development.
This is the impetus for a new project led by the Office of International Programs in Agriculture (IPA), working in conjunction with other faculty in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) as well as the Sokoine University of Agriculture’s (SUA) Department of Agricultural Extension and Community Development, to improve the training that is provided to the trainers of extension agents at the MATIs. This project, formally titled “Improving Rural Outreach Capacity in Tanzania: A Pilot Curriculum Reform Initiative to Increase Relevance of Trainer Training,” is partially funded by a 2016 Impact Grant from the Office of Outreach and Engagement at Ohio State. It serves as a pilot study centered on one MATI in particular – Ilonga. Ilonga is a MATI located in the Kilosa district, approximately 100 km west of Morogoro where the SUA campus resides.
The project’s immediate objective is to revise the programs of study at the MATI - Ilonga so it can better reflect the changing needs of Tanzania’s agriculture and improve the performance and employability of its graduates.