Organic agriculture removes every barrier

Tulo is a small village at an altitude of 1500m in the mountainous slopes of the Uluguru Mountains. Frame conditions: steep, steeper, Tulo. Do you think this is really an insuperable barrier to carry out profitable organic agriculture up here? The place itself, however, offers an astonishing view over the city of Morogoro and its surroundings, which make you forget about television entertainment immediately. Large banana plants decorate the gardens of the village and it’s easy to picture to oneself being the first white person to have ever set foot in this village. In reality, the inhabitants of this village catch sight of quite a lot of Europeans, as the place lies in the immediate vicinity of the tourist attraction “Morning Side House”, an old German colonial house, which is praised as the main attraction of Morogoro in every single tourist guide of the region.Tulo 4
In 2013, the farmers here started taking SAT’s training modules. Since then they were taught about the basics of organic agriculture both in theory and in practice through weekly courses. “After having observed in our neighboring village Towelo, that yields are increasing more and more and that general life circumstances in the village have improved for the better, we wanted to know of course what the secret behind this change was. In short words: ‘kilimo hai’ (organic agriculture)”, tells us Ramadhani Yusuf, a member of the farmer group “nguvu kazi” (work force). Thereupon, the farmers from the village Tulo founded their very own farmer group and applied to SAT. “4 farmers from Towelo, supported by SAT, visited us on a regular basis and trained us in the application of organic cultivation methods” Mr. Yusuf continues reporting.
In the meantime, 16 farmers of the group have gathered around the meeting point to tell us, their guests, their story, how everything came together and what has changed for them so far.
“We don’t go into town anymore in order to buy artificial fertilizer or a synthetic toxin, that money stays in our pockets instead” says Ramadhani and laughs, while pounding his trousers with his right hand. “We produce our own fertilizer for the vegetable gardens. The materials for the compost stem from our village. We also use poultry and goat dung as additives for the fertilizer. For this reason, the money stays where it belongs: in our village.”
Artificial fertilizeTulo 3rs here in Tanzania are known as Chumvi-chumvi (Salt-Salt), a kind of compound fertilizer that is spread onto the fields. “It was difficult to bring in a satisfying harvest. If the rain held off for a while, the fertilizers made the soil harden and run dry quicker, which again resulted in poor yields”, Mustafa Ali remembers. “The harvest was smaller than it is today, around 3 to 5 sacks (120kg per bag). Today, with the same area and without purchased fertilizer, but with the adding of compost, we obtain 7 sacks (120 kg per bag) of maize and all that in the second year after the transition.” Based on experience, this gives hope for an upward tendency, but first, soil fertility has to rebuild itself and the soil has to be able to regenerate after all the artificial additions.
A lot of farmers are being advertised synthetic fertilizers and chemical sprays, but their proper application is concealed which results in misapplication and this, furthermore, may cause problems for people and the environment. “There have also been changes when it comes to diseases. Especially children often were suffering from stomach problems and a lot of farmers had a persistent cough, but this has improved significantly” the women of the group tell us while they let their children sit on their laps.
Through the application of organic cultivation methods, life in Tulo seems to have changed. Mr. Yusuf summarizes for us by saying: “The humidity remains in the soil for a longer time, erosion of surface soil is a thing of the past now thanks to terracing and we have less problems with pests and general diseases. But our vegetables looking better, having taste again and remaining fresh and crisp longer, is the best part.”
The training in organic agriculture could have been everything already, right? “No, as we currently can’t bring up a lot of manure, we decided to participate in a further training about organic poultry keeping. Every Friday, a facilitator from SAT visits us in our village and teaches us the principles. Together we will build a stable and start with keeping animals. We have already found the space for that” Mr. Yusuf elaborates. It’s evident that the organic notion has arrived in Tulo.
What started 3 years ago with certain curiosity, now finds its way from the common management of a demonstration garden to the individual fields of the members of the group. “Currently we are preparing our shamba (field) for the cultivation of carrots. 100% organic of course”, Aziza Saidi, the secretary, speaks out.
In reply to the question what organic agriculture eventually means to him, Ramadhani Yusuf says: “Kilimo hai has brought us a lot of advantages, in short, the vegetables are healthy, money is left over, erosion has disappeared, the fertility of the fields is high and the environment is protected.”

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