SAT addresses social and environmental problems caused by environmentally-destructive and unsustainable farming practices which lead to food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition resulting from environmental degradation through loss of top soil, water supplies and forests. These environmental problems create economic hardships and social problems which are exacerbated during cycles of drought, which are brought by changes in climate, forecasted to become even worse during the next decades.
With our vision to reduce the social and environmental problems and as well to provide sustainable food for the fast-growing global population, SAT uses impact-proven strategies which are based on four holistic pillars:
Dissemination of Knowledge: SAT teaches agroecological farming practices through a highly effective approach where farmer groups receive face-to-face practicums in their villages using demonstration plots. SAT empowers these group leaders to successfully to spread the knowledge among other community members, involving adults as well as youth in the process. Content is relevant and based on farmer interests and issues, and includes entrepreneurial skills and saving and lending culture. SAT additionally offers short-courses about agroecological practices at SAT Farmer Training Centre. There, trainees from all over East Africa benefit from practical solutions which are demonstrated on the 200 acre farm. Knowledge is also distributed with the monthly farming magazine Mkulima Mbunifu. Published in Swahili, it offers practical and easy understandable information about agroecological farming methods. Social media outlets keep SAT networks abreast of current projects and news.
Application and Marketing: Living with the philosophy that you should practice what you preach, SAT is engaged in the whole value chain of agroecological food production. SAT is actively involved in agricultural production, processing, packaging, marketing and creates as well an awareness among consumers about organic food. Hence, SAT can support farmers efficiently through demonstrating and facilitating that agroecology is capable of transforming livelihoods in a positive way. SAT trains farmers in the tenants of organic certification for product marketing, and networks farmers with a national certification organisation, linking successful farms to organic markets.
Research: Far-reaching efforts are undertaken to produce knowledge within the field of agroecology. SAT collaborates with farmers and universities to create demand-driven research in this under-researched field. In an annual Workshop for Participatory Research Design, famers are brought together with students to discuss their common problems. Students are then invited to develop relevant research topics for their degree program, and upon selection, receive funding to support their study. Furthermore, SAT provides the national and international research community access to agroecological farmers and conducts research on the demonstration farm to gain scientific evidence of the potential of agroecological farming methods. All research results are published and become available to SAT farmers and networks, also disseminating knowledge at SAT Farmer Training Centre and in the field.
Networking: All gained experiences of the farmers and other stakeholders are shared during national and international workshops and conferences. SAT shares the experience from the grassroots level, demonstrating success stories and existing challenges from the farming community in Tanzania. To achieve maximum impact, SAT brings together small- scale farmers and other NGOs, the private sector, the Government and its public institutions.
Through this bundled approach, SAT creates high impact for their beneficiaries:
- Through applied agroecological methods which were formerly facilitated in the demonstration plots, farmers can increase their income. Recent follow up study indicates an average increase in income of 38%.
- Economic benefits can be explained with increases in production. This was reported by 66% of facilitated farmers.
- The farm profit can be maximized through utilizing on-farm inputs and hence decreasing costs for inputs purchased in shops. 61% of the farmers reported a reduction of costs for inputs.
- Through multi-cropping systems, farmers become less vulnerable to climate change and other vacillations in weather and markets. 76% of the already facilitated farmers reported that they now have a more balanced diet, which has positive impact on their health.
- Due to diversification and through production of organically-grown produce, farmers benefit from new market opportunities. Up to 50% of formerly trained farmers reported having new market access.
- Through applied agroecological practices, farmers can revive and once again use land which had been depleted through overuse of chemicals, soil degradation and erosion. 64% of farmers reported that they could reuse land. In total, 91% were using erosion control measures after completing the SAT training programme, whereas 30% had used them previously
- Farm biodiversity is protected and enhanced through maximizing use of locally-available resources
- By avoiding the use of chemicals, exposure to environmental toxins is reduced to almost zero.
- Through soil management, farmers fight erosion and reduce the water consumption. Experienced farmers reported a reduction of 59% in water consumption.
- Through agroforest practices, farmers are planting trees, reducing dependence on adjacent forestlands that are under harvest pressure (in the Uluguru Mountains an average farmer has enough land to plant approximately 150 trees without reducing farm productivity).
- Through applied agroecological practices, farmers no longer depend on slash and burn practices. A research in 2014 has shown a reduction in burning by 95% of farmers who were facilitated by SAT.
- In total, 97% of the facilitated farmers reported that they could improve their situation after receiving facilitation from SAT.
- SAT has already engaged more than 100 agricultural students in research collaboration or through field practical trainings. Some of those former students are now in top-level positions, now promoting sustainable and safe solutions in the field of agriculture.