Livestock research functions in the Southern Highlands zone were initiated following an inception of Agricultural Research and Training Institute Uyole in 1971 in collaboration between the United Republic of Tanzania and Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Beginning from 2005, Livestock Research Centre (LRC) Uyole was established as a Zonal Centre for livestock research and development under the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development. Before that livestock research was under the Ministry of Agriculture Research and Training Institute (MARTI) Uyole under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives until 2005 when the Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries was started.
1.1 Location, soils and weather
The Southern Highlands zone is situated between 7 and 9o South and 30 to 38o East and comprises Iringa, Mbeya, Rukwa and Ruvuma regions. The zone occupies an area of about 245, 000 km2, about 28% of Tanzania Mainland area. The estimated human population is 4.2 million, about 18% of the country’s total population. This is positioned at an altitude ranging from 400 to 3000 m above sea level. The climate varies from tropical to temperate depending on the elevation. Rainfall pattern is unimodal with the rain season starting from October/November and ending in April/May after which the dry season starts. The total rainfall ranges from 750 mm to over 2600 mm per annum. The soils are well drained, generally fairly heavy and tend to be acidic with low to medium levels of nutrients. The major natural understorey includes thatching, red oat, molasses and couch grasses while Miombo woodlands form the dominant tree cover. On elevated areas (above 1900 m) Kikuyu grass provides a lawn-type of cover.
The centre for livestock research in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania is based at Uyole about 12 km from Mbeya City. It is part of agro ecological Zone 1, designated as Mbeya stepped plain (10), characterized with undulating rolling lava plain. The altitude at LRC Uyole is 1850 mabsl. Generally, the land is suitable for the production of maize, beans, wheat, pyrethrum, potatoes and barley. As for livestock production, the climate is highly suitable for dairying, poultry, piggery as well as for both dairy and beef goats.