Eight countries, four continents and one aim: Experiencing agroecology! How this is possible? With a lot of curiosity, eagerness for knowledge and of course, the help of four translators. From the 24th to the 28th of May of 2016, SAT had the honor of welcoming SWISSAID delegates from all over the world in Morogoro. Sharing the knowledge and experience that SAT has accumulated over the years is a privilege and the SAT-Team is happy to recap and share the highlights of this visit.
As diverse as the countries of origin of the participants were also the places that were visited during these five days. Each of the sites has its own, special characteristics which require adapted agricultural practices which can optimally be tackled by agroecology. The visit started in Vianzi at the Farmer Training Centre (FTC) of SAT. The agricultural conditions there are rather difficult as the climate is semiarid and the soil is infertile. SAT nevertheless has been able to utilize these conditions and on the tour around the centre, showed the visitors the numerous innovative technologies that have helped them to do so. These include a biological water purification installation and a green house with a drip irrigation system. Soon, a biogas plant will be added. All these technologies contribute to the development of the training centre in the direction of autarchy when it comes to energy and water. After enjoying some traditional Tanzanian dishes made with organic products from the farm and a night in the FTC guest houses, the next visit led the group to the small-scale farmers in the lowlands with relatively high rainfalls. The farmer group there, that had just completed all training sessions with SAT and that now finds itself in the middle of implementing the new knowledge on their own fields, was able to show how the transition from conventional to agroecological production can be mastered. The small-scale farmer Ali Tondola, who already has been through this transition, was able to answer the many questions that the visitors had for him and showed how agroecology can be practiced successfully.Finally, the visitors went to meet the first group that has been trained by SAT and bears the matching name “Maendeleo” (Progress). For many years now, this group has been practicing organic agriculture on the steep slopes of the Uluguru Mountains and has been able to achieve huge success. The terracing system that is favorable for water conservation and the production of organic liquid fertilizer were presented by the group members to the visitors. The diverse locations that were visited represent in small-scale what is also represented by the diverse countries of origin of the participants of the SWISSAID visit in large-scale. Different climatic conditions with varying soil conditions. In addition there are cultural practices and locally available materials. But what unites them all and what became manifest through the shared conversations and exchanges, are the principles of agroecology: biodiversity, closed nutrient cycle, soil health as well as knowledge and social issues. To preserve, promote and develop these is the centre of this approach and contributes significantly to food security. During these five days, a lot has been discussed and exchanged whereby the group was not missing out on fun. The SWISSAID visit showed again how fruitful agroecology can be, especially when it’s cultivated and developed through exchange.