The overall goal of the Uluguru Spice Project is to empower small-scale farmers in the Ruvu river catchment area in the Uluguru mountains in Tanzania by facilitating knowledge of sustainable cultivation methods as well as marketing strategies with the main focus on spice production and trade, thereby achieving a poverty reduction accompanied with the protection of the ecosystem. The expected results are that small-scale farmers in the Ruvu river catchment are skilled in sustainable agroecological methods, governmental agricultural extension officers are trained, and a curriculum to teach model farmers from all over Tanzania at SAT Farmer Training Centre (FTC) is elaborated. Hereby farmers will be benefiting from a strengthened spice value chain focussing on direct processing at the farm, product development, and market access.
Altogether, 1830 farmers, 90 model farmers, and 15 governmental agricultural extension officers will benefit directly from the Uluguru Spice Project. Indirectly the project will reach 12,625 people that benefit either from education through their relatives or from farmers who were already taught before. Moreover, open-source information will be available to a broad audience, comprising marketing through the internet and social media as well as through annual agricultural events in Tanzania. In addition, through the implementation of water protection measures, the project will benefit many more people.
To reach the target groups, a series of activities will be carried out. First, farmers will be mobilized to build groups or to collaborate with already existing groups. Here we pay especially attention to gender balance and encourage women to take over leading positions. In the next step, farmer groups will be trained in agroecological practices with a focus on spices, but without excluding other existentially important agricultural areas such as the cultivation of crops. Parallel to the agroecological training, the farmers will be taught in other sectors such as leadership, marketing, documentation, and value addition as well as processing and storing.
To this, saving and lending groups will be established to fund the investments of group members. To ensure the best possible marketing of the products, workshops with interested representatives of the spice value chain as well as farmers will be organized. Additionally, participatory market research will be carried out with the marketing committees of the groups. One of the last activities will be to support for organic certification of farmers in the project region by using the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), whereby the farmers will follow the East African Organic Product Standards (EAOPS). This approach of a diverse marketing strategy will lower the risk for farmers and encourage them to effectively collaborate in the implementation of the project. In addition, by training the government extension officers, SAT will enhance the capacity of the officers and ensures the sustainability of the project. The private sector will be strengthened through the development of the curricula for spice cultivation and processing, which will later on be offered on a national level as a one-week training at SAT’s Farmer Training Centre.
The Uluguru Mountains provide habitat for various endemic plant and animal species and are therefore a biological hotspot in east Africa. Moreover, the Uluguru Mountains are of significant importance for the inhabitants of Tanzania because the steep slopes are a source of the most important water catchment area in the country. They feed the Ruvu River, which provides drinking water for the largest city in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. During the presidential election 2015, all the candidates addressed the delicate water situation as one of the most important issues. To guarantee water supply for the fast-growing population, water conservation measurements are indispensable. This can be achieved by sustainable land use, realized through agroecological cultivation methods, reforestation and protection of the existing tree stock. The Uluguru Mountains are surrounded by a forest, that reaches until the farmers’ fields. Spice cultivation is very suitable to such areas, because of many of the cultivated spices find shade under the trees and if needed can climb up the existing vegetation. If farmers benefit from spice cultivation, then they benefit as well from the present trees and therefore won’t clear land for conventional agriculture. Conventional agriculture comes mostly with monoculture and is therefore especially prone to erosion.
SAT already implemented a market study in the project area. The study showed that farmers are interested in the cultivation of spices and that some of them already are producing spices today. Though, the prevalent poverty in the region indicates a lack of access to the market for the farmers. To this, the farmers are not organized yet and do not follow any quality criteria, which makes it even more difficult to negotiate a good price. The villages are often not accessible by vehicles and electricity is only available on the main road at the foot of the mountains and even then, most people can’t afford it.
This project is supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation, and Land Vorarlberg.