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.

Book now: our course schedule 2020 is online

We are happy to announce that the training season at our Farmer Training Centre has started.

On our organically managed farm in Vianzi we have plenty for you to experience. In fourteen different courses you can learn hands-on agroecological farming as well as value addition practices. In our opinion “learning by doing” is the key for a successful training experience, therefore we use a participatory training approach in all of our courses. For the first time we also offer a course on post-harvest management.

SAT is a leader in the field of ecological organic agriculture in Tanzania and has a lot of experience in capacity building and training. Our organization is internationally recognized and appreciated. Last year, almost 800 farmers, pastoralists and representatives of NGOs or governmental insitutions attended our courses.

This year’s training schedule includes the following courses

DateCourse
29th June – 3rd July 2020
5th October – 9th October 2020
23rd November – 27th Novemeber 2020
Organic Agriculture Basic
26th October – 30th October 2020Organic Agriculture Intermediate
30th November – 10th December 2020Organic Agriculture Advanced
20th July – 24th July 2020
3rd August – 7th August 2020
Animal Production Basics
21st September – 25th September 2020Conservation Agriculture
9th November – 13th November 2020Food Processing and Value Addition
2nd November – 6th November 2020Natural Medicine
28th September – 2nd October 2020Organic Spice Production
24th August – 4th September 2020Permaculture Design
10th August – 14th August 2020Sustainable Waste Management and Composting
13th July – 17th July 2020
12th October – 16th October 2020
Training of Trainers
17th August – 21st August 2020Attract Youth to Agriculture Camp
7th September – 11th September 2020Entrepreneurship and Agribusiness Development
7th December – 11th December 2020Post Harvest Handling and Management of Agricultural Produce
For further information and the application form please click on the respective links. Please note that our training schedule is subject to change due to variable course attendance.

Additionally, we also offer tailor-made courses for NGOs, educational institutions,… If you are interested, please get in contact with us and we are happy to discuss your ideas.

We are looking forward to welcome you at our Farmer Training Centre.

Dormitory FTC
Karibu SAT Farmer Training Centre

Cardamom Training: How Capacity Building can Ensure the Organic Production of Spices

Currently, the demand for cardamom on the market is very high. Therefore, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) offered an agroecological training on the spice. This capacity building session in the field took place to show how the plant can be intercropped in an agroforestry system so that the slopes of the Uluguru Mountains remain or become again protected from erosion.

Mkuyuni, a small village in the Ruvu river area of the Uluguru Mountains, is not easy to reach. The drive from the SAT headquarter in Morogoro up in the mountains was already hampered due to the rain season and muddy roads. After the car was parked, another 20-minute walk was needed to reach the remote demonstration plot. This provides a brief yet important glimpse on the obstacles, such as difficult market access and poor infrastructure, small-scale farmers have to face in addition to the harsh working conditions in the mountains.

Dr. Mgembe explains how to grow and harvest cardamom

No matter if the sun was shining or rain was falling, farmers of Mkuyuni and the surrounding areas were very keen on learning about the production of cardamom. As part of the Uluguru Spice Project, this capacity building training was attended by 87 farmers from 10 different farmers groups. Two government extension officers were also present to ensure that knowledge and expertise on the highly demanded spice remains beyond the duration of the project. All attended farmers are from SAT trained peer-to-peer trainers who combined will share the knowledge with a total network of 1500 farmers over the next three years. In addition to that, we also provide further possibilities to gain knowledge on spices at our Organic Spice Production Course.

Read more about farmers who have changed their minds on organic agriculture

As the cardamom plant is rather new here as a potential cash crop, SAT invited Dr. Elias Mgembe from the Sokoine University of Agriculture as an external trainer to provide the needed expertise on how to grow, foster and harvest the spice. Only a few farmers have already cardamom plants on their fields, for many of them it is still a very new plant. However, a very promising one: The demand is very high and the supply not sufficient. Thus, farmers can get a very high profit from selling cardamom, and from the other way around the soil is protected through this intercropped perennial plant.

Dr. Mgembe explains the cardamom plant
Dr. Mgembe explains the cardamom plant

The cardamom plant: similar to turmeric and ginger and yet different

The training was held on a demonstration plot so that Dr. Mgembe could provide very practical, hands-on explanations. Actually, for an untrained eye it is not that easy to detect the inflorescence. It is quite a big plant, which belongs to the same family as turmeric and ginger, with actual capsules growing on a small part above the ground. In addition, there are three different types of cardamom plants with different needs and aspects to consider. Generally, a few characteristics can be noted, which the plant needs or has:

  • High humidity
  • Shade (50-60%), thus intercropping is helpful and it is suited for agroforestry
  • Short roots, thus a highly nutritious top soil layer is needed
  • Seedlings for propagation of plant (danger of transferring diseases too)
  • Bees for pollination

Capacity building: Handpicking ensures the best quality

Often, farmers harvest too early because they need the income from selling the spice, leading to a loss of quality. The cardamom plant needs to be harvested not only manually, but the almost ripe capsules need to be handpicked just before maturity. Thus, the spice needs a lot of work and attention. Yet, the process continues beyond harvesting as the right storage and drying process also plays an important role for the quality of the final product.

Cardamom is only the latest addition to the trainings which are part of the USP project to increase capacity building on the spices. By doing so, SAT provides the small-scale farmers with a strengthened value chain. It focusses on direct processing at the farm and product development and market access via SAT facilities. SAT pays the farmers a premium price (at least 10% more), which is mutually agreed on with the producers themselves and leads to a more secure income.

Community building and knowledge exchange as part of the USP project

Back to the training: The many questions the farmers had for Dr. Mgembe were a clear sign that there is a need and interest on the cultivation of cardamom. Furthermore, during lunch the different farmer groups could connect and share experiences on agroecological methods, another important aspect in the work of SAT. To foster community exchange and participation of farmers is an essential objective of SAT’s vision to grow sustainable agriculture in Tanzania.

Learn more about SAT’s work and vision

This project is kindly funded by Austrian Development Agency and Land Vorarlberg. If you also want to support SAT’s vision of sustainable agriculture in Tanzania you can donate here.

ADA Logo

COVID-19: “We are part of the food system”

Alexander Wostry was interviewed by Biovision (Foundation for Ecological Development) early April about the current situation in Tanzania: Which preliminary measures have been introduced to prepare for the global SARS-CoV-2 (better known as COVID-19) pandemic.

“We are part of the food system. We cannot just stop working now.”

The work of SAT continues in times of COVID-19

In the interview, Alexander Wostry talks about the importance of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania during such a crisis: SAT is part of the food system and thus has to continue working. Furthermore, he explains the measures taken by SAT such as awareness raising on which hygiene measures are important considering COVID-19. This is particularly important at all SAT facilities, including the SAT Organic Shop, where renovations took place and hygiene measures were taken.

Read the full interview with Biovision here

Hand washing facilities and awareness raising at our SAT Shop in Morogoro

TipTap handwashing system

Furthermore, SAT introduced at its Farming Training Centre and in the villages where SAT is working with small-scale farmers a handwashing system called TipTap. In the Video below you can see how it works without the need to touch anything with the hands.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzania

Current information on the pandemic in Tanzania can be found at the WHO website. The work of SAT continues, even tough with a few limiations. We would like to thank Biovision for the interview, which you can listen to here:


You can support the work of SAT and it’s vision of establishing sustainable and organic agriculture in Tanzania during this crisis by donating here.

How Pastoralists Spread Their Agroecological Skills

“This is my bike”, says Pendo Ndemo pointing at a bicycle that peers between a group of Masai women. They have gathered in the shade of a veranda. Outside, the light is dazzling. Now and then, a hot and dry breath of wind tells how harsh it would be without the roof. “I use the bike to visit the members of Tupendane group”, Pendo continues. She is a Pastoralist to Pastoralist Facilitator, and therefore one of the crucial persons in multiplying the skills she acquired before.

Tupendane pastoralist group gathering in a veranda's shade

Pendo’s group, Nameloki (‘Good Luck’), started their training with SAT in 2017. “Since then, we made a lot of progress. We have 30 crossbreed goats and three cows that are offspring of our traditional sort and a beautiful Mpwapwa bull.” These animals are more heavily built than the Masai’s customary livestock but well adapted to the environment. “Of course, these cattle eat a bit more. But thanks to our stock of hay, this is no problem anymore.”

What Pendo refers to here, is part of a fundamental change of habits. Traditionally, Masai would roam the savanna with their herds to search for grazeland and waterholes. Especially during the dry season, this involves wandering long distances. Through the Farmers and Pastoralists Collaboration (FPC) project, they learnt how to cultivate their pastures with nutritious grasses, and to bale hay for the following period. “Of course, we had our ways to relieve this problem a bit”, Pendo explains. “We fenced off suitable areas so that the fodder grasses would remain for tough times. Then, we would let our cows in for grazing. But these areas usually didn’t last for long.”

In addition to that transformation, FPC also encourages pastoralists to grow crops. This raises their awareness of how it is like when cows invade a crop field. It is a goal of this project to reduce conflicts between farmers and pastoralists. First impressions imply that it works well, evaluation is underway. There is no doubt, though, that the Masai remarkably improved their variety of food through farming.

Eventually, however, water is the source of life. That is why SAT supported the pastoralists with digging a reservoir big enough to quench the thirst of their cattle. Nameloki’s watering-place lies amidst the labyrinth of bald trunks and mostly naked branches in all shades of brown, yellow and ochre, characteristic for the dry season. The pond is surrounded by the typical fencing of thorny twigs and branches, which truely shows its efficiency if only one tries to open it. When needed, a pump drives the water to the concrete trough.

“This is what we need too,” explains Nambeya Nyange, referring to her group’s plans. Tupendane group was founded in April 2019. “We were inspired by what happened in our neighbourhood,” Nambeya Nyange goes on. Asked about the progress, they have made during the first six months, the Tupendane women pick out two improvements. They never had as much milk before during this time of year. And they say that they engage more actively in trade. Through their saving and lending groups, FPC beneficiaries mutually grant loans that must be invested in business. “The men”, describes Theresia Makoretu, “use the credits to buy goats in the neighbourhood and to sell them with profit on the market. The women, on their part, buy wholesale products like soap in town and sell it retail to the villagers.”

young goat of improved breed
Peer-to-peer facilitator, Pendo Ndemo, is struggling with a young cross-breed goat for the photo shooting.
Managed Pasture

Pendo Ndemo, who coaches the Tupendane members through her experience and her skills she picked up in the specialized training for trainers, leads the group to the tuition pasture. The untrained eye could barely make out this area except for the prickly branch fencing and the lower density of trees. Here, Johnson Mwakyusa, SAT facilitator, chips in. He suggests how the group should deal with this grassland that has not thriven as expected because of little rainfalls. “Let the cows in to graze here. This will fertilize the pasture and later encourage the nutritious grass species we sowed to grow faster. They prefer clear spaces.”

Leaving the women in Mingo village, Johnson manoeuvres the motorcycle along the winding paths tightly lined by the bare wood of this time of year. Farmers and pastoralists engage in protecting this fascinating maze. They practice agroforestry, which includes reforestation, and they learn how to produce sustainable cooking fuel. Looking back, the houses in Mingo fade in the web of twigs and branches. Soon, one believes to be miles away from settlements. And indeed, without a vehicle, this place is very remote.

Nameloki, Tupendane and all the other 49 groups of FPC with their 1660 members stay connected with each other and with SAT through a messenger platform on their mobile phones. And before long we got back to Morogoro, there flies in a video showing how Pendo Ndemo instructs the Tupendane group in compost making.

The FPC project is kindly supported by Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, and LED Liechtenstein Development Service.