Young women striving in Agriculture & Business

In Tanzania, more than 14 million people (26% of the population) live below the poverty line and 60% of the female population lives in extreme poverty. In addition, subsistence agriculture alone accounts for 80% of women’s jobs. In fact, while agriculture still provides nearly 77% of jobs in the country, the sector supplies only 25% of gross domestic product (GDP). The feminization of poverty is thus a real challenge in Tanzania and is particularly concentrated in the agricultural sector.

Umoja ni nguvu group with their baobab fruits after harvest

At the same time, more than 50% of women are in the economic sector of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) where excellence can be achieved, provided they have access to financial support and reinforcement of capacities to professionalize and develop their activities.

So there was a need to provide these young girls with vocational training and support them in creating micro / small businesses around agro-ecology.

Salome Isaack is a young woman from Iyombo Village in the Nzega District of the Tabora region passionate about agriculture and entrepreneurship. Salome was a typical housewife who lived with her husband for years, but she always felt that there was something missing. She had to wake up, do chores, cook, and sit without doing anything specific for the entire day. She was a little irritated about this since she occasionally asked her husband for money so she could buy soap or any small thing for the house. The ambition to start her own business grew stronger as the challenges multiplied.

An effort had to be made to connect with these women. Msichana Initiative, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), and Practical Permaculture Institute of Zanzibar (PPIZ) with financial support from the French Embassy under the supervision of FCS Trust have developed a project titled “Girls Empowerment through Agroecology and Permaculture” (GAPE). Salome saw this as an opportunity when the project facilitators arrived in Nzega District. She had heard that they would be facilitated to be able to start their own business and learn more about organic agriculture. So she joined the group of Umoja Ni Nguvu, which included other young women around her village.

She used the knowledge she gained from SAT’s organic agriculture training to launch a small farm garden close to her house. Spinach was one of the vegetables she grew in the garden. Salome began harvesting the spinach after 7 weeks, earning Tsh 8,000. She used this money to start her poultry business by purchasing three chickens. She was sure to succeed with all the ways she had learned, including proper chicken feeding methods, building a better pavilion, and using biopesticides to avoid disease and commercial breeding.

Salome showing some of the chickens from her poultry business

“Our facilitators taught us different methods of feeding chickens, vaccination of chickens and other ways to prevent diseases in chickens, and I used those methods properly where so far I see the results are good” said Salome.

Salome currently has thirty chickens, and her goal is to grow her poultry business to the point where she can support herself financially.

In seasonal crops, in the last season of 2021, she cultivated sunflower and maize crops. She managed to harvest up to 3 bags of maize and 3 bags of sunflower just in her first season, this really changed her perspective on agriculture.

What agriculture provides to human beings is far from producing food or making money. It plays a huge role in maintaining the environment of the whole planet, and the environment for human survival. Organic agriculture plays an important role in taking care of the environment and existing organisms. Chemical pesticides are now being used more frequently, which is destroying the ecology and biodiversity.

She now appreciates the value of preserving the environment and providing a healthy diet for her family and future generations thanks to the training she received.

Salome on her maize garden

She now plants medicinal plants like neem trees and wild plantains, which are both used as medicines, all around her farm. These plants can be used as effective remedies to treat animal and crop illnesses. Salome has also been able to dig a water pond to irrigate crops on her land in addition to planting medicinal plants. She uses irrigation systems on her farm to grow maize and beans on this land.

Since then, Salome has always had the desire to launch a business. Given some of the difficulties they were facing at home, having additional income would significantly raise their standard of living and enable them to meet even the most basic demands. As a result, putting the training in place and finding success in organic agriculture, especially from the seasonal crops would be a fantastic source of funding for her north star business.

Salome, however, is a brilliant investor and she is just 25 years old. She was successful in forming a group of unity with her four friends. They had the bright notion to establish a baobab value addition business together. For only 12,000 shillings, they were able to hire a baobab tree from an Iyombo Villager. The tree was harvested, given more value, and then sold for both wholesale and retail rates. From the baobab value addition business, they have so far been able to raise Tsh 40,000.

Salome operates a clothing and fabric business with the profits from her baobab value addition business. She makes money by purchasing clothing in Nzega town and then reselling it at a higher price. Additionally, she redesigned some of the fabrics to create children’s clothing and expand the market by selling to neighboring villages.

Despite all of her achievements, Salome still has to deal with issues including a lack of reliable sources of water for irrigation and no means of transportation to get her goods to other villages. Despite all of these difficulties, Salome is still committed to farming and business. Salome is a real brave girl and an inspiration with all of these efforts she makes.

This project is implemented by Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) in collaboration with the Msichana Initiative and Practical Permaculture Institute of Zanzibar (PPIZ) with financial support from the French Embassy under the supervision of FCS Trust