About ten years ago Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania was born through the initiative of a few university students. Since then SAT has changed a lot. Today around 80 employees contribute to the successful work of the organization. Together with small-scale farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural field we promote agroecological practices which allow farmers and pastoralists to live a decent life and reduce the pressure on natural resources and ultimately mitigate climate change. Having grown in the number of areas we are working in and having developed as an organization we think it is now also time to change our visual appearance. For this reason, we designed a new logo.
However, our growth and success would not have been possible without the support of many. This is why we would also like to say thank you to you today for accompanying and supporting us on our way. Asanteni sana!
This year, the annual joint meeting of the 29 Agriculture Training Institutes (ATIs), both private and public, took place in Morogoro from 29th to 30th of June. For Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) this meeting also meant an important next step for the Curriculum Implementation Support for Training Institutes (CISTI) project, as presentations about the project’s progress were made to the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Agriculture and all ATI Principles. Through the CISTI project SAT supported the coordination and planning of the meeting.
On June 29th, the meeting was an internal one between the PS and all Principles of the 14 Ministry of Agriculture Training Institutes (MATIs). Presentations and discussions took place on the matter of the current status of the curriculum implementation, successes and how challenges can be tackled, but also on how MATIs can become financially independent in the future.
On June 30th, the actual joint meeting of MATIs and PATIs (15 Private Agriculture Training Institutes) took place. This meeting focused on the direction of CISTI and on a sustainable review and implementation of the curricula. For the first time, the new Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Agriculture (since March 2020), Gerald Musabila Kusaya, has attended and chaired the meeting. At the high table the following people took their seats:
Dr. Wilhelm Mafuru (Director of Training, Extension Services and Research Division, DTER)
Janet Maro (SAT, CEO Programme)
Hilda T. Kinanga (Director of Administration for Human Ressources Management, DAHRM)
Moses Kabogo (Lutheran World Relief, Senior Country Program Manager, Tanzania)
Mahija Waziri (National Council for Technical Education, NACTE)
Presentations about the CISTI project progress
For our CISTI project, this meeting was an important meeting, as the project has entered its second phase. After a successful year 2019, where it was in a pilot phase, the project is now fully ongoing for the next three years (2020-2022). It aims to support 29 Agricultural Training Institutes, both public and private, to successfully implement and integrate organic farming, gender in agriculture, environmental management, cooperatives in agriculture and communication skills in the new training curriculum for agriculture production on certificate and diploma levels.
During the meeting, our Project Manager Mgeta Daud presented about the expectations and the roles of ATIs. Afterwards, Kashindye Salum, the Assistant Project Manager, presented the preliminary report on the labour market needs survey to inform the review of six curricula which are: a) crop production, b) horticulture, c) irrigation, d) land use planning, e) food production and nutrition, and f) agro-mechanisation. This report was based on a survey SAT carried out among employers, graduates, farmers and professionals which involved personal visits and online questionnaires. Godfrey Edward, the Curriculum Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, presented twice: first, about the sustainable strategy for reviewing curricula used by ATIs; and second, about the proposal by the Minister of Agriculture of introducing a one-year internship for the students to gain practical experience. Afterwards, a fruitful discussion on these topics took place.
Impressions from the Joint Meeting of the Agricultural Training Institutes in Morogoro
2020 Update for CISTI project
As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, new ICT equipment is being purchased in preperation to implement the Distance E-Learning Training. One set of equipment for every ATI, one set for the SAT HQ and one for the Ministry. This offers plenty of new opportunities, as it allows for some of the trainings to take place online. In the future, this will save resources, both in time and money, as people do not have to travel far distances from all ATIs spread across all Tanzania. At the moment, compendiums and manuals are being developed for new modules: Principles of Co-operatives in Agriculture for National Technical Award level 5 and Basic Communication Skills for National Technical Award level 4.
Training farmers in organic agriculture is great, but building up awareness about organic food and creating new markets has as well importance.
(Alexander Wostry, SAT)
A new step for SAT
Tuesday is a busy day in the SAT Organic Shop. Small-scale farmers drop off fresh vegetables and fruits which have been pre-ordered a few days before. However, this time the products will not stay in Morogoro, their final destination is still a few hours away. After being carefully sorted as well as washed, the fruits and vegetables are packed into big cartoon boxes using as much as possible organic packaging material such as dry gras and banana leaves. In an average week the shop staff packs six big boxes with over 25 different fruits and vegetables (bananas, oranges, pawpaws, avocados, tomatoes, onions, fresh ginger, carrots, amaranths…) worth a total value of around TSH 500.000. Once every product on the order list is ticked off, the boxes are brought to the Morogoro bus station to be sent to Dar es Salaam. At the moment there are all in all three deliveries per week and even more often, if the demand is higher.
This is a new step for us as an organization, but also for our organic small-scale farmers. You can now get SAT’s organic, healthy and fresh products in Dar es Salaam without even ever leaving your house. We have partnered with I Am Organic which is currently located within Wild Flour Café and Bakery. I Am Organic offers a weekly fruits basket service, whereby they deliver a standard or family size basket full of our fresh organic fruits to your doorstep every Wednesday. You can sign up for the weekly service via the Wild Flour App or if you prefer you can simply walk into the café and pick out your fruits – they are located on Chole Road at the Slipway junction in Masaki. They also sell our organic vegetables and other products, so make sure you visit them.
How to scale organic agriculture
The foundation stone for where we are today – that we can now sell our organic products even in Dar es Salaam – was laid already a few years ago. We were looking into possibilities to connect our organic small-scale farmers to the local and national market, where organic products could be sold for a premium price while never losing its traceability: Consumers should know where the products they buy come from. We started with a small SAT Organic Shop here in Morogoro in 2012. Scaling up and improving this market link was always on the agenda since then. Further important steps were taken within the Farmers and Pastoralists Collaboration project in 2017, when we strengthened the whole vegetable value chain with the kind support of Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development and LED Liechtenstein Development Service. The next step in the future would be another organic shop in Dodoma to meet the fast-growing demand of organic producers and consumers.
However, the idea is bigger than “just” creating a linkage to the market for our farmers. By selling organic products we also want to raise awareness and sensitize customers for agroecological farming and sustainable agriculture – and this cooperation now allows us to do exactly that by selling the products of our farmers in Dar with I AM ORGANIC, which is a project by Coral Tree Ltd. in collaboration with Wild Flour, TOAM, SAT and SWISSAID TZ. The latter provides the financial support. This technically well-equipped consortium shows that cooperation and cocreation are promising approaches to scale organic agriculture in Tanzania.
We want to offer and promote wholesome food products that have minimal environmental impact, are authentic and traceable, that use the best of traditional know how, are healthy, simple, innovative and artisan. We believe that through this partnership with Swissaid, SAT and TAOM, we can achieve that.
A lecture hall at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) full of young scientists developing ideas for their Bachelor and Master thesis. So far it would be nothing special if it weren´t for a few rather unusual guests: farmers and pastoralists of the Morogoro region. Each year the Workshop for Participatory Research Design connects farmers or pastoralists with young researchers and thus initiates a new cycle of the Farmer Centred Research Programme (FCRP), which emerged a few years ago from the close collaboration of SAT and SUA. Farmers and pastoralists present their current challenges and offer their local knowledge. From there students use their research skills to find solutions for their challenges together with the farmers.
The problem of the fall army worms
Martha Makumba, a young woman, is one among eleven bachelor students from SUA who received a grant through the FCRP in 2018/2019 to conduct her research. After farmers expressed their problem of fall army worms being a big obstacle to their productivity in the 5th Workshop for Participatory Research Design, she decided to look further into that issue. Her research had the overall goal to assess the resistance of local maize seed varieties to the invasion of fall army worms and the use of environmentally friendly pesticides as control mechanisms. During the following weeks she observed that the improved seed variety called “Tumbili” performed better compared to farmer managed seeds and that neem powder worked better as an organic pesticide than moringa. Although Martha Makumba recommended to use improved seed varieties one farmer decided to extend the research.
Farmers contribute to research findings
Mwombeck Cleophace is a member of the Tushikamane group in Kimambila village which was formed in 2017 in the course of the Farmers and Pastoralists Collaboration Project. He is also one of the Farmer to Farmer facilitators who pass on their knowledge to other farmers. Mwombeck Cleophace decided to extend the research in his village by visiting ten farms with improved seeds and ten farms with farmer managed seeds. Contrarily to Martha Makumba, he observed that improved seeds were much more affected by fall army worms compared to farmer managed seeds.
And the research goes on…
To us, we can draw two conclusions from this: First, it shows us how engaged and motivated our farmers are beyond our project activities. They can see that this research helps them to create a sustainable and well working agricultural system at their farms. Secondly, it also shows that different research analysis can provide different results. Another sign that we need to invest more time into long-term research to better understand the specifics of the seeds and their resilience towards the fall army worm.
On our organically managed farm in Vianzi we have plenty for you to experience. In fourteen different courses you can learn hands-on agroecological farming as well as value addition practices. In our opinion “learning by doing” is the key for a successful training experience, therefore we use a participatory training approach in all of our courses. For the first time we also offer a course on post-harvest management.
SAT is a leader in the field of ecological organic agriculture in Tanzania and has a lot of experience in capacity building and training. Our organization is internationally recognized and appreciated. Last year, almost 800 farmers, pastoralists and representatives of NGOs or governmental insitutions attended our courses.
This year’s training schedule includes the following courses
29th June – 3rd July 2020 5th October – 9th October 2020 23rd November – 27th Novemeber 2020
Currently, the demand for cardamom on the market is very high. Therefore, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) offered an agroecological training on the spice. This capacity building session in the field took place to show how the plant can be intercropped in an agroforestry system so that the slopes of the Uluguru Mountains remain or become again protected from erosion.
Mkuyuni, a small village in the Ruvu river area of the Uluguru Mountains, is not easy to reach. The drive from the SAT headquarter in Morogoro up in the mountains was already hampered due to the rain season and muddy roads. After the car was parked, another 20-minute walk was needed to reach the remote demonstration plot. This provides a brief yet important glimpse on the obstacles, such as difficult market access and poor infrastructure, small-scale farmers have to face in addition to the harsh working conditions in the mountains.
Dr. Mgembe explainshow to grow and harvest cardamom
No matter if the sun was shining or rain was falling, farmers of Mkuyuni and the surrounding areas were very keen on learning about the production of cardamom. As part of the Uluguru Spice Project, this capacity building training was attended by 87 farmers from 10 different farmers groups. Two government extension officers were also present to ensure that knowledge and expertise on the highly demanded spice remains beyond the duration of the project. All attended farmers are from SAT trained peer-to-peer trainers who combined will share the knowledge with a total network of 1500 farmers over the next three years. In addition to that, we also provide further possibilities to gain knowledge on spices at our Organic Spice Production Course.
As the cardamom plant is rather new here as a potential cash crop, SAT invited Dr. Elias Mgembe from the Sokoine University of Agriculture as an external trainer to provide the needed expertise on how to grow, foster and harvest the spice. Only a few farmers have already cardamom plants on their fields, for many of them it is still a very new plant. However, a very promising one: The demand is very high and the supply not sufficient. Thus, farmers can get a very high profit from selling cardamom, and from the other way around the soil is protected through this intercropped perennial plant.
The cardamom plant: similar to turmeric and ginger and yet different
The training was held on a demonstration plot so that Dr. Mgembe could provide very practical, hands-on explanations. Actually, for an untrained eye it is not that easy to detect the inflorescence. It is quite a big plant, which belongs to the same family as turmeric and ginger, with actual capsules growing on a small part above the ground. In addition, there are three different types of cardamom plants with different needs and aspects to consider. Generally, a few characteristics can be noted, which the plant needs or has:
Shade (50-60%), thus intercropping is helpful and it is suited for agroforestry
Short roots, thus a highly nutritious top soil layer is needed
Seedlings for propagation of plant (danger of transferring diseases too)
Bees for pollination
Capacity building: Handpicking ensures the best quality
Often, farmers harvest too early because they need the income from selling the spice, leading to a loss of quality. The cardamom plant needs to be harvested not only manually, but the almost ripe capsules need to be handpicked just before maturity. Thus, the spice needs a lot of work and attention. Yet, the process continues beyond harvesting as the right storage and drying process also plays an important role for the quality of the final product.
Cardamom is only the latest addition to the trainings which are part of the USP project to increase capacity building on the spices. By doing so, SAT provides the small-scale farmers with a strengthened value chain. It focusses on direct processing at the farm and product development and market access via SAT facilities. SAT pays the farmers a premium price (at least 10% more), which is mutually agreed on with the producers themselves and leads to a more secure income.
Community building and knowledge exchange as part of the USP project
Back to the training: The many questions the farmers had for Dr. Mgembe were a clear sign that there is a need and interest on the cultivation of cardamom. Furthermore, during lunch the different farmer groups could connect and share experiences on agroecological methods, another important aspect in the work of SAT. To foster community exchange and participation of farmers is an essential objective of SAT’s vision to grow sustainable agriculture in Tanzania.
From 27th February to 1st March 2020, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) hosted as part of the Farmers & Pastoralists Collaboration project a workshop on agroforestry systems in dryland areas. Through field visits, presentations on research, discussions, and group work, the participants were able to identify the main challenges dryland inhabitants are facing and suggest systemic solutions. Farmers, pastoralists, researchers, students, and facilitators jointly developed four agroforestry systems. These promising combinations of technologies are now being tested and optimised.
“I understand: there is not a single thing in nature that does not have its value for a farm”, summarises Julia Samson, a pastoralist woman. She refers to the remarkable variety of technologies the group of roughly 20 people just admired on Mercy Meena’s permaculture dryland farm. The lush vegetable beds and crop fields around the house sharply contrast with the arid environment. All this becomes possible if only one cleverly combines various plant species and actively cares about soil and water management.
This farm visit is part of a four-day workshop on agroforestry in the course of the Farmers & Pastoralists Collaboration project. SAT invited pastoralists, farmers, soil and agroforestry scientists, students, and some of its staff members. The goal of the workshop is to outline agroforestry systems with appropriate technologies to redress the challenges faced by people living in the drylands. These systems shall be implemented, tested, researched and refined on the premises of the SAT Farmer Training Centre. Simultaneously, interested farmers and pastoralists will do their trials. Thus, they’ll contribute to the further refinement of the chosen agroforestry systems.
Agroforestry is a broad term. It refers to a combined land-use system that, in any case, is based on woody perennial plants like trees and shrubs and combined with at least one more component like crops or animals. The aim is to select beneficiary combinations of species to ensure food security, nutritional balance and economic dynamism. Chosen wisely, trees, crops, and livestock maintain the material cycles, create desirable agroclimatic conditions, and diversify the producer’s source of income. At best, the planned biodiversity increases the general biodiversity on the farmlands and in the surroundings.
However, the vast amount of species leads to an incredible number of possibilities to join them. To narrow this down, one needs to answer a set of questions: What’s the purpose the system should serve? What are the challenges the producers are facing? Which are the species that withstand the given conditions? What characteristics do they have?
The participatory and interdisciplinary approach of this workshop fostered a lively exchange concerning these questions. Even more so, because the participants had very diverse backgrounds. Scientists of World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) presented the latest relevant findings and clarified the underlying concepts. Farmers and pastoralists, for their part, contributed local knowledge on tree species, insight in their challenges, and critical feedback on feasibility. SAT, finally, provided the holistic agroecological perspective.
In his presentation Agroforestry Research and Development in Tanzania, Dr Anthony Kimaro (ICRAF) explains the processes by which trees improve soil productivity. On the one hand, they increase the inputs of nutrients and organic matter, but also raise the nutrient availability for crops, and reduce the losses of soil. On the other hand, trees may improve the physical and biological soil properties and thereby enhance the moisture content. He then gives an overview of how agroforestry is implemented in Tanzania.
At the end of this presentation, Julia Samson shows her wit again: “There are really no questions from my part, but I congratulate you. What I saw were all well-known trees from our environment. If we start planting them, our cattle will gain weight; you won’t believe that.” Julia, a pastoralist who practises pasture management, quickly grasped the prospect of agroforestry. Many agroforestry systems have the potential, indeed, to fight the lack of fodder in the drylands.
During the workshop, Prof. Luther Lulandala from the Department of Ecosystems and Conservation at SUA repeatedly emphasises: “Identify the challenges you want to overcome, and you will find a suitable agroforestry system for the aims you pursue.” The difficulties in the drylands are manifold and very often interconnected. Through group work, the participants pinned down the most challenging issues. There is a shortage of firewood and water, the careless cutting of trees aggravates the loss of arable land, which, in turn, increases land-use conflicts. Food and fodder insecurity affect people and livestock. Both animals and crops frequently get infested by pests. There are little opportunities for economic activities and development.
However, there are good chances that a systemic approach like agroforestry positively affects this complex situation. The workshop participants developed four promising designs that now need to prove their efficacy and feasibility.
During the field visit on the fourth day of the event, many benefits of agroforestry already became clear. Dryland farmers who are part of current and completed research projects of ICRAF guided the visitors through their farms, tree nurseries and animal pens. What they showed is encouraging: Their maize is strong and healthy, their animals are well-fed, and the woodpiles were abundant in cut branches of gliricidia trees. This cooking fuel is a renewable product of their agroforestry system.
Alexander Wostry was interviewed by Biovision (Foundation for Ecological Development) early April about the current situation in Tanzania: Which preliminary measures have been introduced to prepare for the global SARS-CoV-2 (better known as COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are part of the food system. We cannot just stop working now.”
The work of SAT continues in times of COVID-19
In the interview, Alexander Wostry talks about the importance of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania during such a crisis: SAT is part of the food system and thus has to continue working. Furthermore, he explains the measures taken by SAT such as awareness raising on which hygiene measures are important considering COVID-19. This is particularly important at all SAT facilities, including the SAT Organic Shop, where renovations took place and hygiene measures were taken.
Furthermore, SAT introduced at its Farming Training Centre and in the villages where SAT is working with small-scale farmers a handwashing system called TipTap. In the Video below you can see how it works without the need to touch anything with the hands.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzania
Current information on the pandemic in Tanzania can be found at the WHO website. The work of SAT continues, even tough with a few limiations. We would like to thank Biovision for the interview, which you can listen to here:
You can support the work of SAT and it’s vision of establishing sustainable and organic agriculture in Tanzania during this crisis by donating here.
With every pot they open, the melange of scents gets more exciting. Elizabeth Mizambwa and Jane Daudi prepare to serve plain rice, pilau, peas with coconut cream, braised beef with a gingery sauce, leafy vegetables with onions, chilli relish and, as a healthy dessert, juicy watermelon. Thirty-nine spice farmers queue up for lunch. They gathered for a meeting on post-harvest management, and already during the tea break enjoyed the fantastic cooking of Elizabeth, Jane and their fellow group members.
“Our group has grown to thirty members – all women. Of course, not all of us participate at once when we have a catering order. Normally, ten to thirteen women meet at somebody’s home to prepare the menu. We cook on wood or charcoal stoves. Most of the ingredients we use come from the SAT Organic Shop” summarises Elizabeth, who is the group’s chairperson.
When food is ready, they use a hired car to transport the thermos pots to the venue. Elizabeth describes logistics as a big challenge for the catering group. “It occurs that everything is prepared, but the driver is late. Most often, this happens when a driver takes the opportunity to work for somebody else on the same day. Sometimes such small jobs take longer than expected. And then, we end up being late to serve the food, which is very bad for our business.”
Luckily, from this point of view, their primary customer is SAT. Therefore, the young entrepreneurs have a friendly environment to get set for the expansion of their business into the competitive market. How has this cooperation evolved? The group Nguvu Kazi (‘Strenght of Work’) started in 2014 as a pure saving and lending group. SAT had decided to offer this successful training on microfinance and entrepreneurship to non-farmers as well.
In a nutshell, this system allows the group members to buy shares every week, which increases the collective fund. Every shareholder can request loans out of this fund for entrepreneurial activities. If the group grants the credit, the borrower needs to pay back the money within three months. Due to quite reliable repayment and the interest on loans, the collective fund grows steadily. At the end of a yearly cycle, the group redistributes the savings. Every saver receives her part according to the shares she has bought throughout the year.
“In the beginning, we mostly used the loans to buy raw material for soap production. But in 2018, we decided to try something new and invested in our catering enterprise,” recalls Elizabeth. “After every order, we decide on how much to reinvest and then we share the rest of our profits. It’s a good source of income and covers a considerable part of my household expenses. Paying our children’s school fees has become easier, and we all buy more shares on a more regular basis.”
This year, the Nguvu Kazi group impressively demonstrated their ‘strength of work’. Thirty women managed to buy shares for about 22.5 million Tanzanian Shillings (approximately USD 10,000). Thanks to their lively lending activities and dependable repayments, they increased the total amount in the collective fund to more than 25 million Tanzanian Shillings (almost USD 11,000). This is a considerable success in terms of return, which is more than 10%, but even more so because it shows that the group members actually can afford to save money for future use.
Asked about her group’s plans, Elizabeth replies: “We dream of catering at congresses or meetings and in offices. In short: to have additional customers apart from SAT. For this, we need to invest in advertisement and also in more decent plates and cutlery.” SAT believes that, with sufficient seed funding and additional consulting, the powerful Nguvu Kazi women could even pioneer Tanzania’s first organic catering. This project perfectly matches the concept of agroecology. Farmers will benefit from higher demand for organic products, and value addition will take place on the spot. Consumers, on their part, will finally have the option to eat fresh and healthy food outside their homes as well.