Tanzania Prime Minister visits Millennium Villages

23 Feb 2010

Painting, hammering and other finishing touches were made on February 23rd at the dispensary in Ibiri to prepare for its inauguration by Tanzania's Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

Ibiri dispensary is the fifth health facility to open in the Tanzanian Millennium Villages cluster. In addition to the dispensary building, new facilities include staff quarters and a delivery wing that received its very first customers that morning.

Just hours before the official inauguration Eunice Peter gave birth to a baby boy with the help of Ibiri clinical officer Masanja Manane. Mother and son, now resting in the cool shade of the delivery wing are the first of many patients to come.

During his brief visit to inaugurate the dispensary, Prime Minister Pinda came in to congratulate the mother who decided to name her son Pinda in honour of the day.

The Prime Minister also had the opportunity to meet Paskazia Petro, one of the model farmers living in Inonelwa, another village within the cluster. The main crop at Mrs. Petro's farm is maize, but she also grows nuts, fruits, cassava and sweet potatoes.

She received an improved variety of cassava from the Millennium Village Project and now gets harvest in 6 months. Before it took 12 months for the cassava to mature. The new variety was developed in Tanzania by the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) and it is resistant to cassava mosaic virus. She has also received sweet potatoes that are rich in vitamin A, another improved ARI variety introduced to the Millennium Villages.

At her farm Mrs. Petro has drawn on the knowledge provided by the Village Agriculture & Environment Committee. She has stayed committed to good agronomic practices ever since the Millennium Villages Project started in 2006. Such committees were established and trained in all the 15 participating villages by the Project.

Today at Mrs. Petro's farm, the Prime Minister witnessed local, well-proven practices of maize farming and the use of various fertilizers including human urine, which makes a cheap and sustainable nitrogen alternative. He advised that soil testing kits be introduced so that appropriate recommendations on fertilizers such as Minjingu Rock Phosphate and urea can be made wisely across the country.

In the speech the Prime Minister gave later on that day at the Ibiri primary school, he talked about his observations at Mrs. Petro's farm.

“Today you have brought me to a place where I really wanted to be. This woman’s 7 acre farm is really a maize farm of the standard that each one of us should strive to achieve. She has told me every acre has 70 lines of planted crop and each of the 70 lines has 234 maize plants.”

”Even more interesting is that each of the maize plants has 2 to 3 maize cobs. If you look at this farm, you will never believe that there was extended dry spell here”, the Prime Minister noted.

He thanked the Millennium Village Project, looking into the future. ”I am really grateful to these young people running the Millennium Village. They are really committed to what they are doing.”

”Look at what they have done to this peasant farmer, transforming her completely into a modern farmer. The secret is fertilizer, appropriate seeds and knowledge of techniques through continuous training. If we could all emulate this, we will achieve the kind of development that we want our country to have.”