Mlingano Agricultural Research Institute-(ARI)

1. Introduction

1.1 Historical background

ARI Mlingano was established in 1934 with the objective to conduct Research for improvement of sisal yield. Since then Mlingano has remained a household name for sisal growers. Nearly all sisal varieties grown in the country were developed at Mlingano. At present Mlingano has a collection of over 120 varieties of sisal (the largest collection in the world).

For users of soils information ARI Mlingano is always the first place to consult in matters related to natural resources management, soil and water management and fertiliser use technology. Nearly all activities in the country related to land evaluation and land use planning, fertiliser recommendations, agro-ecological zones and soil analysis have had connection with ARI Mlingano.


Head office

1.2 Location

ARI Mlingano is located about 15Km East of Muheza town and 30Km West of Tanga City. The institute is located in Muheza district, one of the eight districts of Tanga region.


1.3 Climate

ARI Mlingano is a humid place with a bimodal type of rainfall (1150mm per annum). The first rains, traditionally known as long rains (Masika), starts around March to May, with the peak in April. This is followed by a dry period to mid-October when the second rain season (Vuli) commences. The short rain season reaches its peak in November and begins to decline towards mid-December. Main crops grown in the vicinity of ARI Mlingano are maize, cassava, citrus, mango, jackfruit, banana, coconut and a number of vegetables.


2. Agricultural Research Activities

The institute has a mandate for adaptive research and development in the fields of Natural Resources and Sisal. The institute seeks to identify and promote adoption of appropriate technologies to increase productivity of food and cash crops in a sustainable manner, while at the same time addressing issues related to effective and efficient utilisation and conservation of natural resources.


2.1 The Sisal Research Programme

This is the oldest research programme at ARI Mlingano. Main sections under sisal research include sisal breeding, agronomy, plant protection and sisal tissue culture laboratory. Main activities of the programme therefore include breeding and evaluation of high yielding sisal varieties, propagation of sisal varieties by tissue culture, developing improved agronomic practices as well as pest and disease control practices for sisal.

Growth chamber

Other activities provided by the programme involve providing technical backstopping (advisory services) to the sisal industry, training of sisal stakeholders and on-farm demonstration.


2.2 The Soil Research Programme (SRP)

The main goal of the programme is to develop appropriate soil and water management technologies for sustaining use of natural resources. The major disciplines of the programme are inventory and mapping of natural resources, soil fertility, soil and water conservation/harvesting, tillage and irrigation studies. The soils research is focusing on identification of soil fertility constraints and development of fertiliser use technology, soil conservation techniques, GIS and Remote Sensing applications, land degradation, land resources inventory, agro-ecological zonations and land suitability assessment.


2.2.1 Soil and Land Resources Unit

The section has been carrying out soil surveys at farm, district, regional and national scales. The main purpose of these activities have been the production of soil maps, monitoring of soil fertility status, land degradation, land suitability assessment and farming systems.


2.2.2 The Central Soils Laboratory

This is the largest and most equipped laboratory in Tanzania. It is a member of LABEX, an international quality control organisation for agricultural laboratories.


Central soils laboratory

2.2.3 Soil Fertility Unit

ARI Mlingano is carrying out research integrated soil fertility management mainly for food crops, cereals (maize and sorghum) and legumes (beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas and green gram) in the fields of agronomy, plant protection and fertilisers.

This research unit conducts soil fertility improvement and water conservation. Major test crops are maize, legumes and fruit trees. Recently, research work was expanded to include spice crops at Kizugu.


2.2.4 Training

ARI Mlingano conducts tailor-made training programmes to a wide range of specialists in agriculture related enterprises. Some of the tailor-made training programmes fall in the following fields:

  • Soil and plant analysis and management of agricultural laboratories.
  • Natural resources inventory and mapping.
  • Cartography.
  • Land evaluation.
  • GIS applications in natural resources management.
  •  Fertiliser application.
  •  Management of sisal fields.
  • Soil and water conservation.   
  • Remote sensing and aerial photo interpretation.


Products from ARI Mlingano include national fertiliser use recommendations, soil and land resources inventories for various districts, commercial crop estates, irrigation schemes and related project areas. Scientists seeking to improve their skills in these and related fields are always welcome.

Staff strength

Agricultural research Institute (ARI) has a strong team of 21 agricultural researchers and 9 laboratory technicians. Our scientists have frequently been sought for collaborative research and consultancies by assorted clients such as FAO, UNDP, NEMC, AGRA, ASARECA, AFSIS, ZADREF, District RDPs, ETC-East Africa and many more.


For more information please enquire to:


P.O. Box 5088, TANGA. Tel: 027 26 47647

Fax: 027 26 4257