In the second week of July 2018, we had the honor to host the whole Board of Biovision Foundation from Zurich, Switzerland. Our collaboration with the Foundation dates back to 2009 when we started Bustani ya Tushikamane (Garden of Solidarity) project.
The visit of the Board with President Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren and Chief Executive Officer Andreas Schriber was a great sign of our longstanding collaboration and the important work we are able to do with this partnership.After the visit, SAT founders and CEOs joined the rest of Biovision Partners in Mbita, Kenya for the meeting with the theme `Ecological approaches to development – What will it take to scale and accelerate action?
“I had 40 cows and 25 remained after the drought that hit our village, thanks SAT for starting to bring us a hay baling innovation which we see potential to improve our livestock and provide feed in times of scarcity,” says Kitaliti Mwanduja (above), a pastoralist from Kichangani area in Vianzi Village, Mvomero District, Morogoro.
Well known for its innovative approach, SAT’s Farmers and Pastoralists Collaboration (FPC) project supported by Biovision Foundation and Liechtensteiner Entwinklungsdienst (LED) saw the potential of harvesting grass and storing it for use during the dry season. This practice is done mostly for grass which becomes inedible at maturity, it is sustainably harvested, dried and stored locally. The hay will be used in periods of drought.
Madumba Kosianga, a pastoralist from Kichangani who lost 20 out of his 30 cattlein the last drought , adds: “When the rains have fallen and there is pasture, I collect as much as I can and then store it in bales to prepare for the dry season. This will save me the long and dangerous journey in search of pasture”. He is now working hard to collect feed for his cattle.
“This innovative technique of cutting and baling hay is new and well received as a form of climate change adaptation, where worsening droughts have increased the length and uncertainty of migrations to find pasture, and at times led to worsening conflict over scarce water and grass,” says Madumba.
Qualifiers to be awarded certificates on 6th August
Hon. Johannes Rauch from Austria to be guest of honor
After pioneering alternative organic certification schemes in East Africa in 2012 with the first group in the region, this year 741 farmers from 32 farmer groups who have well established Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) got external inspection and for groups that qualify, will get organic certificates and license to use the East Africa Organic Mark (EOAM).
This intensive exercise with a team of 3 external inspectors started at SAT farms on 6th June 2018, then continued till 18th June with 32 farmer groups producing different vegetables, fruits, spices, rice among others.
The inspection involved inspectors visiting farms for further detailed assessment. Here a lot of things happen, such as discussion with the group upon farm history, group history, activities, leadership, organic agriculture practices, adherence to organic principles and the East Africa Organic Products Standards (EAOPS).
The Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM) congratulate SAT for big efforts to impart organic agriculture skills to farmers. Furthermore, they were happy to see how farmers come to adopt Organic Agriculture techniques through SAT facilitation in remote areas.
6th August is the celebration day, Hon. Rauch from Austria will be the guest of honor
Big celebration is expected to take place on 6th August at Nanenane grounds in Morogoro as farmers who qualify for organic certification and licensing will be granted/awarded
certificates and licenses. Hon. Johannes Rauch, Member of the Vorarlberg state government in Austria, is expected to be guest of honor.
Stakeholders including members of press, government officials, TOAM, MVIWATA (farmers’ groups network), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) , Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), Wami Ruvu Basin Water Office, Traders, processors and members of the public are invited.
PGS is now widely recognized, adhered to and accepted by international organic movements such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
PGS is built on trust and integrity of the primary stakeholders, i.e. farmers and consumers who conduct the certification process themselves, through adherence to certification standards, guidelines, regulations and processes similarly observed by third party certification.
Why farmers are getting organic certification?
In addition to the benefits for the environment and health, “there are advantages in the price received by the producer,” says Rehema Idd, Member of Twikinde Group, a women group based in Diovuva Kenge village in Morogoro, insisting that her life has changed in terms of income after she started to practice organic agriculture.
Pius Paulini (53), secretary of Maendeleo farmers group based in Morogoro, who has been producing organically since 2010 says, “I can sell 1kg of beetroot from Organic Production for 2000Tsh and there are buyers as far as Dar Es Salaam. For 1kg of beetroot from conventional cultivation barely get 500 to 1000Tsh”.
Putting farmers at the center and utilizing valuable local resources is strengthening the country its food sovereignty and hence increases its resilience. Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) is supporting these endeavors.
Since 2014 the organization is linking farmers with student researchers from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) through the Workshop for Participatory Research Design (WPRD). This year, 10 researches were done in five villages based in Morogoro and Mvomero Districts, Morogoro region. 10 Bachelor students were conducting their special project researches in collaboration with farmers and pastoralists, working on their problems. 4 Master students will join in August to further research in finding solutions to farmers’ problems
Kisoko Daniel attended the 4th annual Workshop for Participatory Research Design (WPRD) organized by SAT in December last year where farmers presented problems in crop production and livestock keeping experienced in the field and the student researchers together with their supervisors worked with the farmers to come up with research topics and developed proposals to do the research with SAT.
One of the researches this year aimed at addressing the death of clove seedlings in Tanzania. The third-year SUA student in B.Sc. Horticulture Kisoko Daniel assessed the situation in Mfumbwe village in Morogoro rural district where the problem seems to be critical, as over 80% of clove seedlings are reported to die per year.
Specific objectives of his study were to screen seedling preparation methods, to evaluate the effect of rooting media based on different mixing ratios and seedling transplanting stages on seedling survival rates, and to determine the cost benefit analysis of the seedling preparation and nursery management practices.
In this research, which is still in progress with maximum farmers’ participation, he had a general objective of improving clove seedling survival through improved nursery propagation techniques.
Kisoko collected 1,200 seeds of cloves from farmers. The seeds were partitioned in three treatments with two replications:
Seeds were soaked for 3 days and then the seed coat was removed (soaked-hulled).
Seeds were soaked for 3 days, but the seed coat was not removed (soaked-unhulled).
Seeds were neither soaked nor had the seed coat removed (unsoaked-unhulled).
They were sown on two different seedbeds (blocks) as primary nursery made by sands, covered by transparent plastic sheets.
At the open primary nursery, seeds started to germinate/emerge 26 days after sowing. The germination percentage was 85%, 16% and 12% of soaked-hulled, soaked-unhulled and unsoaked-unhulled seeds respectively. Soaked-hulled seeds formed 2 leaves and 4 leaves at 35 and 48 days respectively after sowing, while the others showed neither 2 nor 4 leaves within that time.
Results from the covered seeds
At the plastic sheet covered nursery, seeds germinated/emerged 17 days after sowing, the germination percentage was 87%, 17% and 13% of soaked-hulled seeds, soaked-unhulled seeds and unsoaked-unhulled seeds respectively. The soaked-hulled seeds formed 2 leaves and 4 leaves 27 and 39 days after sowing.
Kisoko says “We have set up another experiment in which we are testing the 3 transplanting stages (two, four and eight leaves stage). We want to observe which one will perform well and recommend it to farmers”. He has achieved about 90% of research objectives. He got very nice results which he hopes will be very useful for the farmers for clove seedlings production.
What do farmers say?
Farmers hope that one day the problem will be solved. Azizi Omary from Mfumbwe village where they experienced the problem says, “Thank you SAT for coordinating this research, we hope our challenges to be solved”.
Bakari Said from the same village indicated that if researchers and experts visit farms more often, it will help to solve many challenges farmers are facing.
Words from the research supervisor
Dr. Ramadhani Majubwa (right), a lecturer from SUA who supervises the research, encourages farmers by saying that he will work together with SAT and students to get clear answers to why seedlings die and recommend the findings to farmers..
She joined SAT in 2010 and is currently chairperson of Maendeleo Farmer Group. Since joining SAT she was able to regenerate her land using terraces, compost and green manure/cover crops. She also improved diversity of her farm and has more than 15 different plants growing on it. In the past she only relied on Maize and when the soil was depleted, productivity reduced.
Since practicing agroecology, she was able to improve the general situation of her farm and family, he daughter is the first child in the village to graduate from the university and she is now a good ambassador for agroecology, she has trained more than 500 farmers in Morogoro and Tanga regions as a model farmer. Due to her leadership skills in the group, fellow farmers appointed her as a village leader too.
Pius Paulini (left in a green T-shirt) is a 52 years old farmer in Towelo village, Morogoro. He is married with 4 children.
He started farming in the 80s doing traditional farming and grew crops like maize, beans, carrots and cabbages. Later-on, he applied synthetic fertilizers and agrochemicals, he said he incurred high cost and the returns were not promising in the end the soil was depleted, just like many of the fields which farmers abandoned.
In 2010, he attended the first SAT training and he started practicing agroecology immediately, he made terraces and used compost in his farm, he also planted beneficial trees. He conducted a market research and sells his vegetables to Morogoro town, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, he is an active member of the saving and lending network as well as a farmer trainer. He has been able to train more than 500 farmers in Morogoro and Tanga on Sustainable Land Management.
“Through practicing agroecology, I was able to regenerate my land. On my terraced fields which are well composted I was able to get more 1,000 kilos of Carrots which I sold to Mwanza, the money I got used it to buy a motorcycle for my son Moses to start a motorcycle taxi business. My other children are still in school and I manage to pay fees for them in a private English school. In the past people saw me as a poor man with nothing but my life changed and now they ask me to train and represent them“ said Pius. He added “I am finalizing my family house, a 4 bedrooms, self-contained with a sitting room and kitchen“.
Being in the group I benefit a lot with the social capital, we work together and help each other in difficult tasks for example making terraces and bringing our products to the market. In the group we also save together and lend each other money for investment and use.
Amina Shabani 45 years old is a mother of 6 children, among them 4 are male and 2 are female. She lives in Mwanzo Mgumu village in Morogoro. Amina had no chance of going to school, so she cannot read or write. Her husband died 5 years ago and she started taking care of the family of 5 children by herself as one of her children got married.
Amina started farming when she got married in the 90s and they were producing maize, rice and sesame. With her husband they used to produce maize and rice for food only but when they had excess they sold for income generation. For now, after receiving trainings from SAT she grows crops like maize, rice, cassava, Banana and vegetables like Chinese, Amaranth, Okra, spinach and tomatoes, she also keeps poultry. Amina owns 1.5 acres of land where she grows the bananas on one acre and cassava on a half acre. She hires land for growing maize, rice and vegetables.
‘’To me cassava and banana are the crops that I depend for sell while maize and rice I produce for food but if it happens to get excess then it is sold” said Amina. Previously, she never used to grow cassava, bananas and vegetables but after she started taking care of her family and joined the group, she decided to produce these crops for income generation.
“Life was very tough at the beginning but when I joined the group that was established by SAT in 2013, through the trainings in agroecology, entrepreneurship, basic life skills, poultry keeping and saving and lending, I realized that it is possible to break through” she said. She sells bananas, cassava and vegetables, the income earned is used to support her family, for home expenditure, buying books and uniforms for her children. “When I compare 5 years ago, my income has increased almost 4 times. I save the excess income in the group saving and lending“. With the savings she makes she plans to buy land and construct a new house.
Twende Pamoja means ‘Let’s Go Together’. In 2017, the group was established with 32 (25 female and 7 male) members. Since then the group has been working successfully in organic agriculture and other entrepreneurial projects. The group activities are done at Mayanga in Morogoro.
Among their main activities are animal keeping (poultry and rabbit), faming (crops production) such as maize, vegetables, cassava, lemongrass, sweet pepper, moringa, pumpkins, sunflower and water melon. They also process moringa, pineapple, tomatoes, ginger, banana and cassava.
We carry out our group purpose “Our goals are to make sure that each member owns a good and standard house (good life standard), to provide quality education to their children, to own transport equipment and be successful in an entrepreneurship activity,” says Mercy Meena, the group chair.
___________ Twende Pamoja group members in their sunflower farm ________
After being well trained by SAT on agroecology, the group members are now practicing organically, saying that it is cheap compared to conventional products. The reason why organic agriculture is cheap is because uses very available resources. Furthermore, it conserves the environment for future generations. There are a lot of health benefits in organic agriculture products, considering that chemicals are not used in the production.
Organic skills have been helping them to increase the production yield and save the cost (production cost) since they use the organic fertilizer like composite manure and rabbit urine as well as poultry manure. Also, they have a saving and lending project, through it they solve daily financially problems. Technical skills provided by SAT help the group to know the importance of a solar drier and construct it. They now drying vegetable, fruits and earn money.
_____________ Peace corps volunteers listens to Twende Pamoja Group Chair, Mecy Meena, who explained to them on how they successfully own pots garden, solar drier, rabbit and poultry.
__________ From the knowledge and skills, they acquired from SAT and from Nanenane exhibition last year under the sponsorship of SAT, they then came up with rabbit keeping. They bought two rabbits at Nanenane exhibition and started a project with only those two.Now they have more than 120, which help them in agriculture production, since they provide both bio-pesticide (urine) and bio-fertilizer.
They are also earning from poultry keeping by selling eggs. The group also dries the vegetable and crops and sell them to SAT and other customers.
As the first and only center offering agroecology training in Tanzania, the Farmer Training Center (FTC) has proven that it is not only attracting Tanzanians, but also people from foreign countries. The number of new trainees has been increasing. Last year it managed to train over 776 farmers and extension workers for 37 courses, which is higher compared to 610 participants for 26 courses in 2016.
FTC, which is the project of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), has been receiving participants from around the country including Morogoro, Dar es Salaam, Mtwara, Mbeya, Iringa, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma, Zanzibar, Shinyanga, Lindi and Arusha. Farmers and field officers from major organizations and organic companies such as BioRe, SNV were among the guests. Extension workers use the knowledge they gain from SAT to train other extension officers and farmers on agroecological practices.
The courses made the FTC a highly demanded knowledge hub for several organisations in and outside the country. SAT consults them, having the mission to spread agroecology all over the continent.
From 12th to 15th March 2018 it hosted a group of pre-service trainees from USA at SAT Framers Training Centre for the training on Sustainable Water Management and Sustainable Chicken Management. This group consisted of 31 pre-service trainees, 1 volunteer, a language tutor and 2 Peace Corps staff.
The training ended with members having vast knowledge and skills on Sustainable Water Management, stressing on land and water management through appropriate land husbandry practices, as well as rainwater harvesting techniques). After the training they will disseminate knowledge to smallholder farmers around Tanzania. One of the trainees said they chose FTC because it is a great way to learn about sustainability in agriculture in Tanzania. The center, which is located at Vianzi area in Morogoro, is well equipped with accommodation, food and experienced trainers who provide mostly practical training. Click here to watch
Last year, the centre hosted trainees who came from Germany, USA, Switzerland and Austria who came for training on how to practice agroecology.