Selection of Mara region as a pilot area in Tanzania for UPSCALE project implementation was basically based on four important criteria:
- Existence of different Agro ecologies in the proposed site: According to De Puaw, (1984), agro-ecology of the area shows aspects of environment that may constitute a significant resources or constraints to agriculture productivity. Basically it constitute: Soil types, total annual rainfall and pattern ( Mono vs Bimodal), length of growing season and altitude.
- Biotic and abiotic constrains for maize production in the region. Factors affecting maize production in the sites such as Striga weed, Stem borer, Fall armyworm, inadequate rainfall and low soil fertility were among the major factors considered during site selection.
- Existing Push-Pull fields in the selected sites and farmers to implement the technology: Mara region had experience on Push-Pull technology for more than fifteen years. It has been implemented extensively by farmers in Bunda, Butiama, Musoma, Tarime and Rorya districts. At the start of UPSCALE project there were more than 250 fields in Mara region. Considering the importance of the technology the number of fields are increasing and other farmers are expanding the size of their Push-Pull fields. The technology has now extended to Primary and Secondary schools, Non Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations.
- Presence of stakeholders/farmers practising mixed farming of maize and Push pull companion plants: A good number of stakeholders/farmers in the Mara region which were growing maize, Napier/Brachiaria grass and desmodium plants for improvement of food security and livelihood of small holder farmers who are encountered by food and animal feed deficit during the season and off-season. Such organizations includes Heifer International-Tanzania, Project Concern International, Mogabiri Farm Extension Centre, Africa Inland Church Tanzania and Mara Agri-Link Tanzania Limited.
Other information about Mara region include:
i) Population increase According to the 2002 Population and Housing Census, there were 1.37million inhabitants in Mara region where as in 2012 the population increased up to 1.74 million, this was 27% population increase. This indicates that the increase of population density can result to food deficit if there will be no strategic measures for increasing food crop production in the region.
ii) Crop Production Mara region has sufficient land for crop production, land available to smallholders is 487,543 ha. The regional average land area utilized for agriculture per household was only 1.9 ha. Therefore, land can be used for crop intensification including PPT, cereal, vegetables and legumes integration.