United In Our Mission: SAT & The Government

The SAT employees, our board members and our CEO’s all stood in “formation”. A long uniform line, full of eager and excited faces. The SAT employees all sharply wearing our grey polo shirts with the SAT logo boldly and proudly embedded on the left-hand side. Our CEO’s, stood right at the front of the line. Just as excited for this moment, that we had all been looking forward too.

A warm welcome: The Permanent Secretary greets our staff

The date is September 25th 2020, just a little after 13.00 hrs, we are all gathered at Vianzi, in the Mvomero district, a 20km from Morogoro City. Our mission? To welcome the Permanent Secretary of The Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Gerald M. Kusaya, to share with him our story, show him our facilities and have him assist us with opening new buildings at our SAT Training Centre. Mr. Kusaya’s visit to us represents a chance to not only show our progress thus far, but an assurance and a confidence that we are walking arm in arm with the Government in our goal for a 100% organic future.

We, SAT are a non-governmental organization in Tanzania founded in 2009, headquartered in Morogoro. Our target is to ensure the majority of farmers are using acknowledged agro-ecological methods to improve their livelihoods. Which will then aid in the conservation of our environment and ultimately reduce pressure on natural resources.

Our SAT Training Centre, in Vianzi is expanding, with a set of new buildings almost complete. The set of buildings will include a new head office and dormitories among other areas. They will mainly be targeted for use in our CISTI or Curriculum Implementation Support for Training Institutes project. CISTI is a project aimed at producing graduates in line with the country’s needs, as it relates to organic agriculture among other things. Thus far we are in collaboration with 29 Universities, have trained 83 tutors and completed 5 compendiums specific to this project.

In addition to the CISTI project we also run the Uluguru Spice Project (USP) where the target is for the majority of Tanzanian small-scale farmers to benefit from organic farming practices which reduce poverty, increase climate resilience and reduce the pressure on the environment. Another notable project we work on is Farmers and Pastoralists Collaboration (FCP), which aims to use a circular economy approach to bring the two conflicting parties together (farmers and pastoralists), building peace through integrated agroecological methods.

We believe continued investment and development of The SAT Training Centre will help us to achieve our aim of building towards an agroecological future, equipping farmers and others with the right knowledge which they themselves will go on to spread.

Fruits of our labor: Our CEO’s show the Permanent Secretary our new buildings.

Mr. Kusaya maintained a look of awe and admiration, as we told him our story, showed him our facilities and the little self-sustainable “village”, we had built in what seemingly looks like a random and remote part of the country. The community we have built lies in stark contrast to what was there before…Nothing. Alex, our Operations CEO, fondly shared the story of how years ago when he was exploring possible locations to start building, he stumbled upon this very place and upon telling the locals his plans of transforming it, they laughed and said he must have got some “Jua Kali” on the way here!

Story-time: Our Operations CEO Alex shares with the attendees SAT’s history and our future plans.

As far as we have come, we at SAT still do have a long way to go to making the SAT Training Centre, in Vianzi, the organic educational hub we envision it to be. We mentioned to Mr. Kusaya our lack of electricity and water at Vianzi as well as the poor road infrastructure that leads to our Centre. He assured us and all our stakeholders present, that he takes our needs very seriously and will address them as best as he can. Insisting that we will always have a friend in the Government.

As such we look forward to working arm in arm with our key partners; Biovision, LED, ADA, Land Vorarlberg as well as the government of the United Republic of Tanzania towards building a 100% organic future for Tanzania.

A new beginning: The Permanent Secretary flanked by our CEO’s admires the foundation stone he just unveiled.

Digitization & Farming: How SAT is changing livelihoods

We are living in a digital age. The internet has become a key part of our lives; it determines how we interact with one another, how we do business and how we plan our lives among many other things. The key for any business in this environment, is to leverage these new technologies to our benefit and to the benefit of our stakeholders.

A farmer making use of her phone to access key market information.

At Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania our vision is for the majority of farmers to use acknowledged agroecological farming methods to improve their livelihoods, conserve the environment and reduce pressure on natural resources. To reach this goal effectively, digitization must be a key element in our approach.

Digitization at SAT largely depends on the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) component established at SAT. The SAT ICT component is a component introduced by SAT to solve the problems that face smallholder farmers such as lack of markets, lack of information, lack of timely support and assistance in problem solving. SAT ICT employs various tools to ensure that farmers focus more on production which will ultimately lead to an increase their profits.

Farmers always need to make key decisions such as what to grow, how to grow, when to grow, where to sell, what quality is required, when to sell, what price to charge etc… Strengthening our smallholder farmers’ access to timely and accurate information  improves their productivity as well their bargaining power and understanding of marketing functions which improves farmers’ market share.

A snapshot from the Machosauti application

The tools used by SAT ICT include mobile applications and services that help us, help farmers. The first stage involved in the digitization process is training our farmers on how to use smartphones and applications that are essential in information sharing. Some of the mobile applications used include WhatsApp and Machosauti. How did you learn how to use a smartphone? Let me guess, you played around? That is exactly the way we train our farmers through engaging them in interactive games where they use WhatsApp and other software to solve problems, such as finding the best prices or the best solution for a farming problem.

WhatsApp is a mobile application which is used for general communication purposes and media. Media such as text, pictures, audio, and videos can all be shared using this platform through the internet. First, we wanted all our farmers to share their challenges. That almost did not happen. Instead farmers started by sharing their successes, which, turned out to be a positive in itself, as it motivated other farmers to copy their ecological farming methods. However, there are still some burning questions out in the field. 

Machosauti is another mobile application developed by Dr. Eugenio Tiselli and financed by SWISSAID in Tanzania. It involves media exchange in the form of text, audio and pictures as well as a webpage interface for interaction between users of the application. Here farmers are invited to upload challenges which later will be responded to by other farmers and technical experts from SAT. The benefit of this app is that farmers can later access all the solutions since they are saved for long-term use. This is its benefit when compared to WhatsApp.

However, for quick knowledge exchange WhatsApp is still the unbeatable favorite for small scale farmers. An example of one group managed on this app is ‘’Wakulima Kilimo Hai’’ (in English the “Organic Farmers”). This WhatsApp group includes 43 farmer groups, seven marketing scouts, and a plenty of SAT facilitators who act as technical consultants. In total, we have 93 farmer groups on WhatsApp, reaching, at present, more than 2740 farmers.

Apart from learning the best organic farming methods, farmers are also longing for marketing information. Currently we have market scouts from seven different markets named Tawa, Mkuyuni, Kinole, Mwazo Mgumu, Mjini, Kariakoo and Kiroka. They are responsible for collecting market information on price variation for different products (spices, vegetables, fruits, pulses, and cereal products) on a weekly basis. Market scouts are provided with smart phones, enabling them to collect market information and share it with farmer groups. We at SAT wanted to ensure that prices for up to 40 products are efficiently shared from several markets, the first option was to do so through an app. Due to high costs, however, we decided to use an alternative way which is a mix of analog and digital components building on the existing software; WhatsApp.

The approach is simple but effective; market scouts use a printed template which they fill out on the market day with all the respective prices. From the piece of paper, a picture is made, and this is the point where analog turns digital. The information is then shared on the WhatsApp where it can be accessed by hundreds of farmers. Farmers immediately see the current prices and can call the market scout to ensure there is demand for their products.  SAT collects the data and builds a database of years’ worth of information which helps to advise farmers as best as possible. Our experience has shown that prices can fluctuate highly between markets. Therefore, sometimes incurring a higher transport cost can lead to much more profit through selling it at a more profitable market. We, at SAT, are committed to improving and expanding by adding more market scouts to the Dar salaam and Dodoma markets.

Financial services is another key element of our SAT ICT component. Smallholder farmers are a major part of the population in Tanzania as it relates to the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, they are usually excluded from formal financial services. Digital financial services via mobile money technology represent an opportunity to enable financial inclusion among this group.

One avenue for facilitating this is to digitize the agriculture value chains that some smallholder farmers are a part of. This provides a secure movement of the cash the farmers are paid through mobile money services. This ensures their security as well as preventing the need for farmers to move from their localities to receive payments. This system is faster, easier, cheaper, and more secure than the conventional system where they needed to move, incurring more costs in the process. Currently mobile money is used as the payment method for farmers who are producing various products. Briefly summarized this is all revolutionary technology which allows coops and farmer groups to work on a highly transparent level which is key to success.

With all these initiatives it is necessary to know where we stand. We measure our impact through collecting data with using the online app KoboToolBox. By using this technology, we have all information on the “cloud” ready to be analyzed with our statistical software.

As technologies and digitization continues to grow and shape our world. We will look to grow with it, prioritizing our farmers and their needs, leading us all to a future with is not only digital but also 100% organic.

SAT: Impacting the Organic Movement Worldwide

Mexico, Denmark, Scotland, Germany, India, Israel and Tanzania. What do those countries have in common? The answer is not obvious and does take some digging. Or in this case farming.

All the above-mentioned countries have organizations or people who are finalists in the One World Award (OWA). The OWA is the most prestigious international accolade from the Organic movement. It centers on rewarding innovative activities in ecological, social and economic sustainability.

Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) our humble but rapidly growing, organic movement situated in the warm heart of Africa, holds the continents flag high as one of the seven finalists.

The grand prize? Money, recognition and the chance to take home, Mother Nature, or in this case, “Lady Obert”, a bold statue which features the earth on top of a figure of a woman. A striking image which will be awarded to the most daring and most dynamic organization which promotes sustainability. A description which was tailormade for SAT.

We, SAT are a non-governmental organization in Tanzania founded in 2009 headquartered in Morogoro. Our mission? Ensuring the majority of farmers are using acknowledged agro-ecological methods to improve their livelihoods. Which will aid in conservation of our environment and ultimately reduce pressure on natural resources.

Bernward Geier, OWA coordinator and chairman of the OWA jury, came to Tanzania for a three day visit as part of the selection process. He spent his three days touring our various facilities, meeting our employees and of course meeting the most important people of all; Our Farmers.

As part of his visit Bernward, gave the SAT staff a lecture about what the award means and delivered a call to action. A call to dream big about a 100% organic future for everyone.

“How many of you think Tanzania will be 100% organic by 2050?”, he asked. A tough question, with which some were hesitant to commit too. His response to his own question was damning yet inspiring. Warning us that we, and the world do not have that much time, at best we must execute change within 10 years. A challenge which we all rose to and accepted with roaring cries of “Kilimo Hai!”

By the end of his three day visit we had showed him our farming techniques, shared our dreams, practiced our culture together and taught him our dance moves. Every step of the way Bernward, and Daniel (his cameraman), joined in on our fun and our lessons, while sharing many of their own. While we wished them a heartfelt goodbye, we are consoled by the idea that we will reunite on a stage in February 2021 to collect and to protect “Lady Obert”.

You can learn about our farming practices by registering for our Farming Training Courses. Click here for further details.

Adrian’s Top 4 Technologies on offer at Nane Nane

Adrian Barnabas is one of the many Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) facilitators presenting to customers at the annual Nane Nane exhibition.

The mission towards an organic future is one which is close to his heart. He has been working at SAT for 2 years now, starting out as an intern and now part of the permanent staff. He believes “Health is everything” and that educating both farmers and the general public is the key to the better future he is fighting for.

He shared with us his top 4 personal favorite technologies that SAT is showcasing at Nane Nane.

1.

WHAT? Jokofu La Asili

WHY? A cold room made from materials which are cheap and easily accessible to locals, it utilizes burned bricks, sand and sacks to ensure food stays cold and fresh long after harvest.

2.

WHAT? Shamba Kichanja

WHY? A portable backyard garden. People need not worry about a lack of space, you can not only grow different kinds of produce together but you can also easily uproot the garden and move it around.

3.

WHAT? Energy Saving Stove

WHY? This stove is made with raw materials which are easily accessible to locals, materials like clay soil and burned bricks. It is very efficient and uses very little firewood to cook. Furthermore, it has an oven like feature at the bottom to keep your food warm, long after you have finished cooking it.

4.

WHAT? Kilimo cha Terrace

WHY? A lot of farmers in Morogoro and around the country are surrounded by hilly terrain. This technique of planting crops in what resembles a staircase, shows that you can successfully farm on such terrain. It helps with combating soil erosion as well as reducing the amount of water used.

Health is Wealth: SAT’s mission at Nane Nane

Staying healthy in mind and body is a result of many things. The amount of exercise we do, the genes that have been passed on in our family, frequent medical check-ups and perhaps most importantly what we put in our body. Not only regarding the foods we eat, but also regarding how those foods are made and processed. “Staying healthy is the beginning of everything”, insists Adrian Barnabas, one of SATs facilitators as he stands infront of the very green, very busy and 100% organic showcase, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) has prepared for the annual Nane Nane event.

It is the fifth day of Nane Nane and there is, as always, a steady flow of visitors to the Sustainable Agriculture showcase. Nane Nane is an annual celebration that recognizes the contribution of farmers to the Tanzanian economy. It runs for 8 days, with agricultural exhibitions running in different regions across the country, it all culminates with a national holiday, on the 8th of August. The agricultural sector provides a living to around 80% of Tanzania’s workforce, while accounting for 26.7% of the country’s GDP. A part of this agricultural economy is courtesy of SAT, which is one of the first organic movements in East Africa.

Adrian Barnabas and the rest of the SAT workforce has been preparing the SAT field for the exhibition since late June up until the end of July. Their mission? Spreading awareness around organic agriculture both to farmers as well as to their customers. Adrian is a proud ambassador of agroecological farming methods and their benefits, “We want people to be drawn to our work and spread it across Tanzania and then other countries”, he mentions.

SAT has a variety of different technologies and farming techniques on display at the Nane Nane grounds. These range from techniques making use of demonstration gardens, animals and even stoves. For this year’s exhibition we have introduced the “Jokofu La Asili”, the only technology of its kind available at Nane Nane. The “Jokofu La Asili” acts as a cold room of sorts, using materials easily available to farmers and locals such as burned bricks and sacks to create an eco-friendly “fridge”, which farmers can use to store their produce so that it stays fresh long after harvest.

SAT’s demonstration garden at the Nane Nane grounds country wide welcomed 1020 visitors in Dodoma and 2448 visitors in Morogoro. Professor Mgula from Sokoine University of Agriculture was one of the many visitors in Morogoro, impressed with the work SAT is doing he stressed the need for more farmers to be educated on the importance of Organic Agriculture.

“Many of our farmers are not knowledgeable about the topic and they are not aware of the effects of using pesticide, they just want to kill insects, not thinking about the effects to their customers or even themselves in the long run,” Professor Mgula said.

SAT is a proud member of the Agricultural sector and a proud pioneer of the organic movement in the country. With every person educated on the benefits of organic farming, we believe we can make Tanzania and the world a better place.

You can learn about our farming practices by registering for our Farming Training Courses. Click here for further details.