SAT – General Assembly and Agroecology Forum 2016

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) hosted its annual General Assembly and second Agroecology Forum at the Tushikamane Centre in Morogoro. SAT’s seven board members and 15 Staff hosted seven representatives from local government with over 130 leaders representing 65 SAT-assisted farmer groups. Some farmers came from over 50 kms to attend the forum.

SAT’s Executive Director Madam Janet Maro welcomed the assembly, introducing Guest of Honor, Board Chairperson Professor Method Kilasara from Sokoine University of Agriculture. Prof. Kilasara thanking SAT and government officials  for improving corporation between government institutions and non-government organizations. He emphasized the merits of agroecology systems for youth and farmers, which applies practices to improve productivity without the use of synthetic chemicals, benefiting present and future generations. He linked the adoption agroecology to the reduction of the government burden for medical costs from exposure of the citizens to application of chemicals and unsafe food, reduction of costs to supply synthetic chemicals to farmers and reduction of the costs to rehabilitate the degraded environment.

Ms. Maro summarized 2015/16 project work which used a successful farmer-to-farmer model, training core groups who in turn, reach out and train neighboring farm and youth gropus. SAT is addressing market concerns, connecting farmers to the SAT organic shop. Twelve SAT-trained groups received certification for 2017 under the East African Organic Products Standards. SAT has extended its services to other regions, with a Scout programme in Mbeya, a new branch office in Masasi, Mtwara, and a Sustainable Land Management Project in Tanga Region. The farmer magazine, Mkulima Mbunifu published in Arusha more than 45,000 Tanzanians this year.

The Farmer Training Centre in Vianzi, Mvomero District has reached 80% of this financial goals towards self sufficiency, with 15 courses taught in 2016. Infrastructure improvements included and bore hole and construction of an earthen catchment dam. SAT 2015 Financial Reports were presented by Mr. Alex Wostry, Finance Manager and Mr. Edson Malele, SAT Accountant. Total revenue for SAT in 2015 was 401,453.38 $US, expenditures totaled 322,428.85 US$, leaving a balance of 79,024.53 US$. SAT total assets at the close of 2015 had a value of 287,689.26 US$. Questions from the audiences were addressed, then followed by comments and words of encouragement and advice from Board Directors. Ms. Maro introduced plans for 2017 which include a membership fee for farmer gorups. Upcoming projects include a Spice Project in Morogoro Rural District and a Pastoralist Collaboration Project in Mvomero District.

The Agroecological Forum opened with a presentation by SUA graduate, Mr. Johnson Mwakyusa, adressing challenges presented by farmers during SAT’s 2015 Worshop for Participatory Research. Link for a  summary of the mulching trials with okra productivity. The adoption of SAT organic farming practices, along with the Village Saving and Lending Association program can have a profound effect on peoples lives and livelihoods. SAT has touched the lives of over 2,000 farmers in the past year, and four were selected to give their stories at the forum. All had inceased farm income through crop sales, and poultry. One farmer had even used his knowledge to attain agricultural marketing contracts. Local Government representatives addressed the forum, thanking SAT for assisting with their training and outreach efforts in the region. To the official Report about the General Assembly

SAT then awarded nine farmer groups for good attendance with credtis that can be used towards farm supplies and equipment. The Best Farmer Group of the Year, Twiyame Group from Mkuyuni B Village was chosen because of their extensive marking, purchase of a group farm plot. They also hosted delegations from over 12 countries and shared their knowledge with 100 students from Masasi District.Prof. Kilasara closed the Form, thanking the participants in the Assembly and Forum and congratulated the farmer groups awarded and recognized by SAT. He further advised the gathering to not to abandon hope or be satisfied with what they have done, but to continue to improve. He advised all farmers to increase production, especially for organic products because they are greatly needed and increasing in demand.