Project site description

Location and Area:  Rungwe District is located in Mbeya Region and lies between Latitudes 80 30’ East and 90 30’ South of the Equator and Longitudes 330 and 340 East of Greenwich Meridian. It is boarded by Kyela District to the South, Ileje District (Songwe region) to the West, Busokelo District to the East and Mbeya Rural District to the North. The District occupies a total land area of 1231.86 km2 out of which 1,231.54 km2 is covered by land.

Topography and Climate:  The District is mountainous with Rungwe Mountain and Livingstone ranges rising from an altitude of 770 meters to 2,265 meters above sea level. The District receives relatively more rainfall than most parts of the country. Rainfall average ranges from 900mm in the low land areas to 2700mm in the highland per year and come as bimodal rain between November and June. It is densely populated. Also, it has three distinctive agro-ecological zones, namely, Highlands, Midlands and Lowlands.

Soils: There are three broad categories of soils in Rungwe District. The first category is described as clay (heavy clay and clay loam), loam and loam sand. Loam sand soils are found in the uplands areas, loam clay soils are found in the lowland areas and loam is found in midland areas. Most of these soils have high mineral and nutrient contents.

Farming: The main economic activities are crop production and livestock keeping. The district is rich in type and variety of crops. Most of the crops produced in other parts of Tanzania are grown in Rungwe. The staple food crops are rice in the lowland, banana in the midland and maize in the highlands. . Other crops produced in the District include beans, coffee, tea, peas, finger millet, sorghum, and groundnuts and a wide variety of horticultural crops and fruits are found. Most of these crops are grown for the market and subsistence

Livestock:  Livestock kept include dairy cattle, pigs and poultry. The main livestock keeping system is zero grazing. However, livestock dairy production in the District is negatively affected by inadequate forage.

Mechanization and Infrastructure:  Most small-scale farmers use traditional farming methods and mechanization is limited especially in the highlands.  However, in the lowland tractor use is peaking up. Despite the availability of water irrigation infrastructure is underdeveloped and farming is largely dependent on rainfall. Poor transport and storage facilities affect access to markets by the farmers. Milk processing infrastructure is still underdeveloped. Farmers mainly depend on local markets for most commodities.