Through SAT support now the group produces 5 tons
of ginger, sweet potatoes organically
Upendo Farmer group was established in 2015 in Amini Village, Kinole/Morogoro with a total of 25 members who meet on Thursday every week. The group is located along the ranges of the Uluguru Mountains with good climatic conditions favouring the growth of many crops. The reason to introduce organic farming was not only to boost their production but as well to conserve the environment through the construction of terraces, contour farming and other organic farming practices such as planting of trees to reduce soil erosion, protecting the important water sources. Hence you can say, they are not only farmers, they are actually the Stewards of the Uluguru Mountains, which is the most important water catchment area in Tanzania, providing through Ruvu River 80% of water which is consumed in Dar es Salaam.
Currently the members are organic farmers in transition. They are supported through a follow up component of the former ByT Programme. It supports them in developing an Internal Control System (ISC) which is the core of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), a locally focused quality assurance system. It certifies the farmers based on active participation of stakeholders and is built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange. With using the PGS Upendo will produce under East Africa Organic Product Standards (EAOPS), which will guarantee that consumers receive high quality products, which are good for their health and the environment. Due to the high quality of the products of the Upendo Group, they were able to increase their customers and became known as organic vegetables and fruit pioneers within their village. Currently the products from Upendo Group are sold in the nearby market places, and as well in SAT Organic Shop. Please pass us a visit there..
Apart from fruits and vegetables production, the group was capable to establish production of ginger and sweet potatoes. They were motivated to do so after conducting a participatory market survey which informed them about the demand for such products. They are now capable to produce in their first run a minimum of 5 tons of sweet potatoes and 5 tons of ginger this season. They are already planning to add value in processing the ginger into powder. The group has an ultimate goal which is to bring development into their village, which they define as schooling for children, good housing and nutritious and healthy food for their families. Let us summarize that this is a great start for the group. The farming activities, which are mainly taking place in individual farms, are organised and overseen by the production committee. The marketing committee scouts for demand and communicates this information to the group members. It organises the transport and sales as well. For making sure that all farmers are on track, even if a newbie is joining the group, a training committee is in place. This system is introduced by SAT who builds capacities beyond planting crops in the field. A further innovative approach from SAT is that those farmer groups are now equipped with a smart phone, using apps to receive and send marketing information and to exchange as well. Read more about it in the next story.