The importance of having right data for farmers about their produces

Most of the individual farmers in Tanzania produce very little quantity of crop produces, have no access to premium market, no bargaining power and have no knowledge of the quality standards required. Now having information about the quality and quantity of their produces can help change this all.

Having the right information is the most powerful tool in many processes, the same goes for agriculture. Information and data are very important things for a farmer to have a successful harvest and business.

“Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.”  
Edwards Deming, Statistician

Spice farmers under the Uluguru Spice project II need valid data about their production so as they can have clear picture of the possible outcomes in harvest and therefore to meet the demand of the hungry market.

How can farmers get this information?

During the Spice farmers workshop at Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) Head offices in February, which was facilitated by SAT facilitators, farmers learned step by step how they can use different tools to collect and summarize information of their produces.

SAT Staff explaining to farmers about filling the forms for data collection.

The workshop was attended by 21 farmers, including farmers from different spice farmer groups together with their leaders.

SAT Professional explains

The workshop aim was that with this information collected, farmers can have secured and well-paying market for their organic produces. Since data is at the core of such endeavors it is important for farmers to know efficient ways in collecting data. The information collected will be amount of yield in the previous and coming season so they can know what type of crops are doing great, the time period expected for harvest and also the type of crops they planted. SAT builds hereby on a hybrid approach which combines modern components like smartphones with ordinary record keeping like feeling forms. Organized in WhatsApp groups farmers can  make pictures and send information about their produces from their respective farmer group supply and share it within their cooperative network. This helps them have a strong negotiation position to agree on lucrative prices.

What specific areas to focus on?

Data will be collected from farms that are within the Ruvu river catchment area along the slopes of the Uluguru Mountains. The shared data includes an estimate of the expected harvest, age and quantity of the trees, and expected harvest time.

This project is supported by Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation, and Land Vorarlberg.

The Certified Way to Organic Agriculture

Every year our farmers plant and harvest their fruits, vegetables, and spices, amongst other things. Their crops, once harvested, are then marketed and sold under an organic label. How can we be assured that these crops are organic? They must go under a certification process – specifically under “Kilimo Hai”.

The Certification-Production system is focused on quality assurance based on certifying producers and active participation of stakeholders to build trust and social networks, and foster knowledge exchange.

At Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT),  we encourage our farmers to be certified under the Kilimo Hai Certification which is offered by Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), so the farmers could access and enjoy the benefits that come along with the certification. 

The certification process begins with the mobilization of farmers and the formation of groups. These groups are instructed directly by facilitators from SAT or through F2F (farmer to farmer) facilitators. Through their training, they are made familiar with organic production and good practices, as well as activities conducted by SAT in collaboration with farmers and TOAM representatives.

Afterward, the groups are sorted based on a few different criteria

  • Needs of the group.
  • How actively are the members participating in group activities.
  • The quality of leadership portrayed by their leader.
  • Marketing challenges faced by the group.

This process means grouping the farmers according to their production needs and capacity which serves as a primary point that boosts their productivity. They are then trained thoroughly on:

  • Organic farming.
  • Standards on Organic Farming (EAOPS) and Compliance.
  • Participatory guarantee system (Peer to Peer Assessment) and how it works utilizing established committees within the groups.
  •  Collective marketing.
  •  External assessment and certification.

The certification process has attracted more farmers over time:

·         In 2019 the number of certified farmers was 835 with an expectation of certifying 1245 farmers (763 spice farmers and 482 as vegetable and fruits producers) by the end of this year.

·         There has been an increase in land involved in organic farming from 525.6 acres in 2019 to 1062.3 acres in 2020

All this was achieved after the farmers:

·        benefitted from premium price for their products, which attracted new farmers to undergo the certification process.

·         were ready to learn and spread awareness about organic agriculture.

·         saw the increase in their income from the value addition on the sales of their product.

·         were able to minimize the cost of production and maximize profits

Through this process, we are thereby able to continue achieving our goal of stimulating soil and environmental conservation which is our agroecological goal in practicing organic agriculture.