SAT Executive Director at FAO headquarters for 2nd International Agroecology Symposium

From 3rd to 5th April 2018, Janet Maro attended the 2nd International Symposium on Agroecology held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.

She was invited by FAO, to represent Tanzania and Eastern Africa, to share the experience of SAT on scaling up agroecology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Symposium brought together more than 700 participants with representatives from 72 governments, around 350 civil society and other non-governmental groups, and 6 UN organizations.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with SAT Executive Director, Janet Maro  in Rome, Italy 

In the Session Discussion facilitated by Ms Brave Ndisale – Strategic Programme leader of FAO, Janet presented about ‘Scaling-up Agroecology through a collaborative knowledge platform’.

Agroecology offers multiple benefits

According to FAO official statement, the symposium came up with joint resolutions that will be taken to the United Nations and Member States.

The Symposium Chaired by Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, stressed in his summary that “Agroecology offers multiple benefits, including for increasing food security and resilience, boosting livelihoods and local economies, diversifying food production and diets, promoting health and nutrition, safeguarding natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem functions, improving soil fertility and soil health, adapting to and mitigating climate change, and preserving local cultures and traditional knowledge systems”.

“It is critical that legal and regulatory frameworks are implemented in a way that ensures transformative change towards sustainable agriculture and food systems based on agroecology, and respects, protects and fulfills farmers’ rights and access to productive resources such as land, water and seeds.”
The Chair’s Summary also drafts a way forward including a list of “urgently needed” commitments from stakeholders. Governments are called on to develop policy and legal frameworks to promote and support agroecology and sustainable food systems, and to remove “perverse incentives” for unsustainable agriculture.

The Summary called on FAO to develop a detailed 10-years action plan for agroecology and to begin implementing the Scaling up Agroecology Initiative.

Consumers and citizens are urged to act as agents of change in the food system to promote responsible consumption. Donors are asked to increase long-term funding to agroecology, while academia and research organizations are encouraged to increase research on agroecology.

Recognizing visionary policies for agroecology

On the sidelines of the Symposium, the World Future Council (WFC) with FAO and IFOAM-Organics International launched the 2018 Future Policy Award for visionary policies that create enabling environments for agroecology. The winners will be recognized in a ceremony at FAO in Rome later this year.

Janet stated that Tanzania does not have a clear legal and policy framework for Agroecology and that there is a big opportunity for the country to spearhead this and be one of the first African countries to put up such a framework.

Click here to read Chair’s Summary

 

 

 

 

The Good Old Times – Mgambazi Village

All Morogoro is occupied by conventional agriculture. All Morogoro? No, a small village in the Uluguru Mountains does not stop resisting the intruder and they are giving the representatives of synthetic pesticide producers, that have their stations spread all over the country, a hard time.

“The good old times”. What may sound too generic for many, does describe quite accurately the case of the village Mgambazi and its agriculture. “Our ancestors never used chemical fertilizer on their fields and used to have incredible yields. They were able to harvest vegetables to their hearts desire”, Ramadhani Yusuphu, a member from the farmer group of Mgambazi says. “The former generations used local seeds which were well adapted to the climatic conditions of the Uluguru Mountains. Accordingly, they also were more resistant to diseases and so-called pests”, Selemani Waziri adds. I realize that the people here have a burning desire to tell their story about the change in agriculture in their village Mgambazi.

“When in 1968 the University of Agriculture was opened here in Morogoro, chemicals started to get into the picture too. First the chemical fertilizer, later the chemical sprays. The elderly did not have knowledge about terracing, which helps avoid loss of fertile top soil. But as they did not want to lose their fields in the steep slopes, the representatives of the chemical fertilizer had an easy game to play. Do you know what I mean, when you use chemical sprays and fertilizer, they help and you can see immediate results. But what they don’t tell you is that after extended use, you basically destroy your own existence. Because what is a farmer without fertile soil and without his helpers, the beneficial insects?”

I leave the rhetorical question at that and dig deeper because I want to know more about the beneficial insect subject. But Ramadhani is quicker and proofs that the farmers from Mgambazi have already cared a lot about interconnections in the ecosystem. “In the past, there were not as many pests as now. It’s possible that all these chemical products have primarily killed the beneficial insects which are now missing in our gardens as natural pest controllers. This year, many of our mangoes and tomatoes were not edible because they had worms and were infested with parasites. Before the age of chemicals, this had never been an issue. When I was a small boy, the local ecosystem was well-functioning. Die seeds were local and well-tried, there were a lot of beneficial insects, hardly any diseases and soil fertility was stable. But now, in the current condition, we see that something has to change. Back to the roots, so to speak.”

An interesting realization, I think for myself, and I can only wish that eternal students had the same. “A farmer from the neighbor village Ruvuma suggested founding a group and undergoing training in organic agriculture. We were then included in the “Farmer2Farmer” Project of the Organization SAT und were instructed in many things concerning sustainable cultivation methods”. Finally, I want to know whether they have gained anything out of it and the answer I get does not need any more commenting: “We would recommend other farmer groups to do the same. Organic agriculture has helped us a lot. Two people from our group have already started implementing what we have learnt in the demonstration garden on their own fields. First, you dig the terraces whereat we help each other, and then you plant the vegetables, all organic of course. Organic farming enables us to go back to the previous state, which is a healthy ecosystem.”

This farmer group is funded by Biovision Foundation and Liechtensteiner Entwicklungsdienst and is part of the FPC Project

5 rooms, kitchen, bath

I would like to invite you to go on a journey with me.

We are heading to a mountainous region in Tanzania – steep slopes, bare rocks and extreme weather conditions. An area which is perfectly suitable for agriculture, but only if you like challenges.Ruvuma 8You definitely need confidence in what a human being can achieve and a solid attitude  towards life if you want to be a successful farmer up here. The path ascends to the Uluguru Mountains. We are climbing on a bumpy rough road, passing simple dwellings whose bases were carved into the steep slopes. Maize plants are growing all over on fields which seem to be aligned rather vertically than horizontally. After an arduous ride of half an hour on the motorbike we reach a village in the heart of the Uluguru Mountains in the Morogoro Region, Tanzania. The people who are around seem to busy but relaxed at the same time. On the wayside there are deep-fried pastries on sale in a brightly coloured plastic bucket – that suits perfectly because it’s time for breakfast now. The villagers are used to westerners visiting this place and welcome them in a friendly and hospitable way. Their story arouses interest, so more and more visitors find their way into this small mountain village.Hadija Kibwana, a middle aged, very hospitable woman who wears colourful cloth wrapped around her body, greets us. She’s the chairperson of the farmer group in Towelo. After a while a man arrives. He’s wearing dirty clothes, tattered gumboots, which do not really serve their purpose anymore, and a cap with a faded SAT logo, pulled down deeply into his face. He quickly turns out to be the one whom not only we, but practically all the visitors coming to this place are looking for. His Name is Pius Paulini, aged about 50, four children, mountain farmer in Towelo. We don’t need to know more particulars about him for the time being because he has something different to tell. At first glance his story seems like a daydream. However, if you have a closer look, what he’s going to tell us turns out to be an experience many small scale farmers in Tanzania and beyond would find desirable.

Ruvuma 6 “The times when we used to spread synthetic fertilizers and to spray poisonous pesticides were hard: there was a lack of money and the costs for agriculture were high. We had to borrow money for our children’s school fees and we had to chalk up at the shops to make ends meet. We couldn’t really make a profit by farming so we had to pursue other work as well in order to earn a little money along the way”, the chairperson of the farmer group from Towelo remembers. Back then, synthetic fertilizer cost about 2.500 Tsh (1.20 €) per kilogram. That means that a small-scale farmer like Pius Paulini had to bring up 250.000 Tsh per year in order to be able to farm at all. In addition to that the pesticides cost about 45.000 Tsh. Summed up this is quite a fortune for a small scale farmer, which has to be scrimped and saved. For a farmer like Pius Paulini this meant putting aside a certain fraction of the 2.00€ that he used to have at his disposal every day.

Ruvuma 5In the year 2009 people from Towelo became aware of the organisation Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT). They decided to form a farmer group and to be trained in organic agriculture. In 2010 the first demonstration garden was created and the group began to dig terraces, to make compost and to cultivate favourable plants and trees. After just one year many farmers of the group have become able to use their new knowledge on their own fields. The group members helped each other to convert to organic agriculture and together they started to build terraces on the steep slopes. “The success became visible instantly, simply because the health of many of our farmers improved and the children weren’t falling sick so often anymore. After two more years a clear increase in yields could be realised, which in turn positively affected our income” tells us Pius. “It wasn’t exceptional that from one acre we only harvested 15 sacks of maize. Nowadays, depending on the weather, we may get 20 to 25 sacks out of the same area thanks to kilimo hai (organic agriculture).”
With visible anticipation, Pius leads us further up the mountain on a small footpath. After a few minutes we are standing in front of tall brick walls. These walls are part of a house that’s being built and whose size is rather exceptional in this mountainous environment. We are taken on a guided tour through the bare brickwork by the proud landlord himself. In total we count five rooms and a bathroom. “I managed to save the money for the building materials within one year. Needless to say that this was apart from the everyday expenses”, adds Pius Paulini. “The sand for the construction work I carried it myself from the river to this place, around ten to fifteen buckets every day,Ruvuma 7 and then off I went into the field.” Being asked how far away the place is where you can get the sand, Hadija and Pius just reply by smirking. Pius points to a faraway place somewhere on the mountain and simply says: “Up there.” With this kind of enthusiasm for one’s work it is not surprising that the farmer has a very healthy attitude towards physical activities, especially when it comes to agricultural ones. “Laziness eventually involves great damage, whereas hard work bears fruit. A lot of farmers use artificial fertilizer out of pure convenience. Organic agriculture implies hard work, but it is well worth it. Take a look at me and how my life has changed for the better.” There really is nothing more to add to this statement.
But Hadija Kibwana too, has ambitious plans. She already has gathered the bricks needed for the construction of her own house, which she emphasizes, because up to now, she has been renting a house. We owe SAT a lot, because they enabled us to do all of this and, so to speak, taught us independency”, the two say almost unanimously. It seems that there is nothing more to add here either.

Ruvuma 2Heading back from this small journey, I feel different – a slight sense of pride and satisfaction is spreading within me. “If in Towelo, where conditions have appeared to be rather difficult for people, it is possible to find a way back to natural agriculture and at the same time conserve and support the environment in a sustainable way, then producing healthy foods must be possible just about anywhere”, I think to myself. Assuming of course, that there is a little bit of Pius’ spirit in every one of us.

Stakeholders Meeting about Agribusiness Market Opportunities for Youth Employment

TAMEJ 2On the 29th of February, the meeting for the agro-economic development for Tanzanian Youth in Morogoro took place. The host of this event was the organization Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), that had invited farmers and guests from different stakeholders.
At the beginning there was a short introduction to the project “Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE)”, through which Tanzanian Youth is taught the basics of organic agriculture and business administration, in order for them to later be able to implement their own business ideas or to have better opportunities in the local job market. SAT here serves as a co-operation partner of Netherlands Development Organization SNV and carries out the formation of young people in organic-sustainable cultivation methods.
With the objective of enabling them to later put into practice their own small business model, the participants of the event were thereupon taught the main features of business management. In doing so, an emphasis was placed on the first steps not to be connected to large investments that therefore depend on loans. Instead, it should be undertaken without the employment of capital. In this regard, already developed plans of action and strategies were presented, which can easily be put into practice by small-scale farmers.

TAMEJ 1Subsequently, SAT’s Marketing officer went into the production of organic foods and explained the advantages of certified organic products on the emerging market in Tanzania to the attendees. To cite a successful example, he named the Organic Shop of SAT in Morogoro, which exclusively offers fresh, organic goods and thus, as a recipient, guarantees the small-scale farmers a secure income. Other plans and strategies, like the formation of a large central market for organic produce, generate further incentives to persuade farmer groups to convert their production methods into organic.
In the afternoon, the attendees were presented a very descriptive, successful model about the origins of a small-scale enterprise, which sells dried fruit and now supplies the coastal metropolis of Dar es Salaam. The young founder of the small business advised the farmers to start off as small as possible, firstly, in order not to get into debt, and secondly, in order to grow collaterally to experience. Everything is possible, he says, one only has to dare taking the first step and to jump at the opportunity.
The success story of the mountain farmer Pius Paulini from Towelo was the splendid end of the event. Presenting his story himself, Mr. Paulini told the attendees about the advantages of organic agriculture and about how his life and the circumstances of his village changed for the better. He now sends his children to good schools, owns two motorcycles and has started building his very own house, all thanks to organic cultivation methods.
Finally, the director of SAT, Janet Maro, shortly addressed the possibilities again, that have been gathered throughout the day and wished all the participants of the event the best of luck and a lot of success in undertaking the first steps towards the realization of their own business ideas, before all were released into the early evening.

Statements of participants:

Portrait 1Sara Gidion (Dakawa)
“We learned about the economic foundation for the realization of our own business ideas. I now know what I have to consider in order to set up my own business. The presentations helped me to gain understanding of sales and profit. I would like to start my own production of soap that I can sell later.”

Portrait 2Hassani A. Husseni (Luhindo)
“Today I have learned a lot about organic agriculture and the importance of the economy. I was shown the challenges and the requirements for a business of my own and what kind of planning lies behind. If I know all of this beforehand, I can be successful. I just graduated from school and now feel prepared for the infamous first step.”

TAMEJ 3

Compost Making Tutorial

Kompost-Doku 2How can we preserve soil fertility ?

By using artificial fertilizers or by refraining from agricultural activities ?

Of course both answers are wrong !

A farmer group from Towelo in the Uluguru-Mountains in Morogoro shows the right answer and bolsters up small scale farmers` future.

If you want to know how to save the environment and to get the most out of your fields as well, please take a look at our compost making tutorial.

2nd Workshop for Participatory Research Design

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) organized the 2nd Workshop for Participatory Research Design (WPRD) on December 12th 2015. The workshop took place in the New Lecture Theatre at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro. The event was organized in order to bring together farmers involved in organic farming, SUA instructors as experts in agriculture and student researchers from various degree programmes of SUA. The farmers came from different farmer groups in various villages where SAT projects are implemented. These farmers were given the opportunity to share the main challenges affecting organic farming. The goal of the workshop was to elaborate research themes based on farmers` needs to finally minimize and eliminate the causes of loss in production and therefore their income.

Please follow the link to find the report about the 2nd WRPD: 2nd WPRD – SAT Report

Furthermore you have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the trailer directly on the homepage or use the link to find it on YouTube: official Trailer

Agroecology – the way to food

A system of sound and sustainable agriculture, healthy and safe for humans and the environment which lies in the hands of local control allowing communities to decide about IMG_1523the way food is produced, traded and consumed. Merely a dream? Or a tangible option for a farming future? Yes and more than that: it is an approach applied all around the world, which has formed into a movement including farmers, civil society organisations, indigenous peoples and women, who have taken hold of their food sovereignty defying agro industrialization.

Focusing on Africa, Global Justice Now provides with the report “From the Roots Up” examples of Agroecology application – a term which refers to the application of ecological principles on food systems and also includes aspects of social and economic justice. We are delighted to be among these examples with our Project “Bustani ya Tushikamane” as we are strong promoters of Agroecology demonstrated by our trainings and gardens. Other projects include urban gardens in Senegal, sustainable banana production in Uganda and “eco-cultural calenders” for the promotion of diversity and knowledge in South Africa.

With the benefits of Agroecology clearly visible and the feasibility of small-scale sustainable agriculture as an adequate source of food proven, it only remains to ask why policy-makers are not yet acting upon such facts rather than promoting the industrialization of agriculture. To address this issue the report of Global Justice Now provides policy recommendations, changes and steps to be taken by governments to nourish the development of Agroecology into becoming our main food system.

Download the report here:

Global Justice Now Report From-the-roots

Report on Impacts of Green Revolution Technologies on small-scale farmers in Tanzania

The past five years a significant number of programmes have been launched in coordination of public and donor institutions with the aim to commercialize and modernize agriculture using Green Revolution methods. Whilst professing to carry Tanzania’s agriculture into prosperity the emphasis of these programmes clearly lies on competitive private enterprises, economies of scale and standardizing consumption patterns, leaving small scale farmers – which account for 75% of the economically active population – with no place in this plan. Hidden in sheep’s clothing Green Revolution (GR) methods are promoted as vectors of so called “sustainable intensification” (a term initially developed by promoters of agroecology and hijacked by supporters of conventional agriculture in order to cause misinterpretation). But unfortunately the short-term gains provided by such methods result in serious drawbacks for farmers and the environment in the long run. The real costs of the success of farmers and businesses using GR methods are often hidden but will show themselves eventually in the form of social dislocation and marginalisation as well as ecological damage to the agro-ecosystem.

Whilst the modernisation of agriculture is heavily promoted by development and public actors, there is lack of support for agro-ecological practises which ensure a more inclusive and democratic control and usage of the natural resources and which can guarantee sustainable improvements for farmers.

But which have been the interventions of GR technologies so far in Tanzania and what impacts have they afforded? What conclusions can be drawn and which proposals made towards a more sustainable future?

With the help of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) and National Networks of Farmers’ Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA) the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) conducted a research to provide answers to the above questions giving a thorough report on the current situation of important regions in Tanzania and the impact of Green Revolution technologies on small-scale farmers.

You can download the report here:

African Centre for Biosafety Report on impacts of GR Interventions in Tanzania (English)

Shirika la Afrika la Usalama -Riporti ya Utafiti (Kiswahili)