The southern Highlands Zone of Tanzania is situated between 70 to 90 South and 300 to 380 East.  It comprises of six administrative regions, which are Mbeya, Ruvuma, Iringa, Rukwa and two recently established regions, Njombe and Katavi from former Iringa and Rukwa, respectively (Figure 1). These administrative regions are currently composed of 26-administrative districts, which together occupy an area of 245,000 km2 (28.5 % of mainland Tanzania). Projecting from 2002 national census; the zone has an estimated population of about 8 million today, over 80% of households, derive their livelihoods from agriculture based activities.


Figure 1: Sketch map of Tanzania showing Southern Highland Zone



The zone is very diverse in terms of topography, weather, soils and farming systems. The altitude ranges from 400 to 3000 meters above the sea level, which has a direct influence on both climate and rainfall. The annual rainfall ranges from 600 mm (in some parts) to over 2600 mm on the mountains and along Lake Nyasa. The climate varies from tropical to temperate. Rainfall pattern is mono-modal, with the rain season starting in October/November through April/May. The zone is potentially a productive area for crops and livestock enterprises. Most soils are well drained and generally fairly heavy but tend to be acidic with low to medium levels of nutrients and low organic content. With present soil status, in most areas soils respond favorably to application of mineral fertilizers.


Under the MAFC, ARI-Uyole is mandated to conduct agricultural research and provide rural development advisory services in the SHZ. The research and development thrusts of ARI-Uyole are food crop production, natural resources management and socio-economics of agricultural development for rural communities. Crop production research emphasizes variety development, adaptation and their production husbandry practices. The main areas in variety development and adaptation are high yields, resistance and/or tolerance to biotic, abiotic and climate induced constraints. Production husbandry practices include sowing time, plant spacing, and integrated management of diseases, insect pests and weeds. Thrust of natural resources management group, is on technologies, practices and policies, which enhances sustainable management of soil, water and nutrient and agro-forestry interventions for environmental conservation and land resources productivity enhancements. Mechanization of agriculture, post-harvest handling, processing and utilization form important research areas, under natural resources management. Farming systems analysis, social economic constraints to increased productivity, production and profitability, technologies adoption and their impacts on livelihoods of farming communities are some of the areas emphasized for promoting agricultural development. ARI-Uyole has a farm operations unit, which is supporting research to verify technologies developed at farm scale and multiplication of improved seeds for seed supply services to the institute’s clients. Technology and knowledge dissemination is through the Zonal Information Extension Linkage Unit (ZIELU). This unit links research activities with extension services in the districts through Farmer Field Schools (FFS), various trainings, field days and publications of clients’ friendly materials.

ARI-Uyole works in close collaboration with a sister institution, under the Ministry of Livestock Development (MLD), which conducts research for livestock production and development. Major collaborative areas with MLD research are socio-economic studies and natural resources management for integrated management of crop-livestock-environment towards sustainable agricultural development.  


ARI-Uyole is led by Zonal Director for Research and Development (ZDRD), who directly reports to the Director for Research and Development (DRD) in MAFC head office, who in turn reports and advises the permanent secretary of the MAFC on all matters related to agricultural research and development. The ZDRD is technically assisted by Zonal Research and Development Coordinator (ZRC), who in turn is assisted by three heads of research programs, namely: Crop research program (maize, rice, wheat, root and tubers, horticulture, pyrethrum, grain legumes, oil seeds, plant protection), Special Research Program (soil & water, laboratories, agro-forestry, agricultural mechanization, food processing and post-harvest research), socio-economic research, research-extension liaison and farm operations units. Crop research has 8-sub-programs and special research has 5-sub-programs. Sub-programs are headed by scientists, who report directly to program heads.  Farm operations unit (FOU), is headed by Farm Manager (FM). Zonal Information and Extension Liaison unit (ZIELU), headed by Zonal Information and Extension Liaison Officer (ZIELO). The FOU and ZIELU are responsible for technology verification, transfer and knowledge dissemination, they report to ZDRD through ZRC. 

In addition, ARI-Uyole has out-reach sub-stations for adapting technologies and to take research services close to the farming communities in the SHZ. Each sub-station is located in a major agro-ecological zone of the SHZ. Sub-stations are headed by station in-charge at least with certificate in agricultural sciences. The sub-station heads are coordinated by the sub-station coordinator, at the zonal headquarters, who in turn reports to ZRC.

There is cross-cutting section of personnel and administration, which assist the ZDRD in management of human and physical resources. The institute has a finance department, which assist ZDRD to handle financial resources management and procurement.



Environmental resources

The SHZ is about 70% endowed with abundant favorable environmental resources for agricultural development with exception of some pockets of semi-arid, permanent water bodies and rocky areas. Generally, rainfall amount and distribution and temperatures in most parts and years are favorable to support agricultural production. However, currently notable shift in patterns and increase in variability are evident in several areas of SHZ. In presence of good marketing system as incentive for farming, adoption of good soil management practices, in an integrated manner, such as, use of mineral fertilizers and manures, soil organic matter management through crop rotation, soil conservation and agro-forestry techniques and increased use of improved crops seeds in farming, the environment of the SHZ can support high and sustainable productivity and profitability of agriculture.

Land resources

ARI-Uyole headquarters and sister institutions (Training Institute and Livestock Research Center) and out-reach sub-stations have total area of 3,714 hectares of land for research, training and technologies verification applications and multiplications at large scale. There are eight out-reach sub-stations as detailed in Table 1.

Table 1 List of sub-stations and their location





Altitude (m.a.s.l)














Iringa Rural





Iringa Urban






















Note:  m.a.s.l = meters above sea level



Human resources

ARI-Uyole, has researchers with BSc or BA, MSc or MA and PhD in different fields relevant in sciences and arts of agricultural development. Ideally, the institute requires 16:32:16 ratio of scientists with BS: MS: PhD, with target of 65 from the current 17:21:2 of the 40 scientists in place. The scientists are supported by other technical staff, with diploma and certificate levels education in fields of agricultural sciences.   Efforts are underway to achieve the target and ratio through training and recruitment of the young scientist in relevant fields for manning the activities at the institute.  Majority are in Crop Production, followed by Natural Resources Management (NRM), Socio-economic Sciences (agricultural economics & sociology), Extension and Information Technology.  Furthermore there are supporting staff working in administration, farm operations and finance units at the institute.

Physical and financial resources

The Government is the main sources for support of physical resource, such as laboratories, office buildings, transport, and other services infrastructure and financial support for research and station up-keep funds. All research staffs are government employees, thus monthly remunerations are paid from the central government coffers. Currently, contribution of development partners through project grants enable the institute to have funds, research facilities or their renovations and transport resources for research and development activities.


ARI-Uyole has long-time experience of collaborating and partnering with national and international development partners in research and development. These include CGIAR and UN organizations (e.g. CYMMIT, CIAT/PABRA, CIP, IITA, ICRAF, FAO, UNDP, UNU /IAS, etc); developed countries, international development cooperation agencies (DFID, NORAD, FINNIDA, SIDA, CIDA, USAID, JICA, etc); regional programs and networks (e.g. ASARECA, PaABRA, SABRN, SADC-Land & Water management program etc) and non-governmental organizations, (CARITAS, IFS, PELUM, etc). Recently, we have come into collaboration and partnership with “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)” programmes, in Crop Improvement and Soil Health. These research partners, support research through small grants and acquisition of project’s vehicles to facilitate implementation. In addition, ARI-Uyole benefits from capacity building support of researchers at graduate levels, short trainings, workshops and meetings.