Kigoma women farmers relish technology

LOW-TECH, high-impact micro-irrigation technology is making a big difference in the lives of women farmers in the Kigoma region of Tanzania.

Through the Kigoma Joint Programme (KJP), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) is implementing a permaculture initiative in Kigoma.  This initiative builds on UNCDF Inclusive Digital Economies (IDE) work on Youth and Women Economic Empowerment (YWEE).

Through the programme, women farmers are able to access essential financial and non-financial services at the last mile through affordable and innovative approaches.

Micro-investment opportunities, which provide farmers with the tools and resources they need to increase productivity and grow their businesses, have been particularly successful.

Hiari Youth Group is a good example. Hiari is a savings and loan group in Kigoma with seven members, the majority of whom are women.

When the group was formed, their goal was to accumulate savings to buy agricultural inputs during the staple crop planting season. However, with guidance from NCA who spearheaded this initiative, they decided to try their hand at horticulture production.

The investment promised quick and high returns which would help them accumulate more funds in their input wallet. They started by growing vegetables for which, due to the short production season and high levels of vegetable consumption at the local level, there was a ready market for any increased production. Increased production would also improve the nutritional quality of the domestic food basket.

With the help of simple drip irrigation technology, the group has been able to generate a profit of more than 2 million Tanzania shillings within six months. They have expanded from four initial garden beds to twenty-nine, where they grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and Chinese cabbage.

Each member in the group has at least two beds at their home, and there is also a group vegetable garden. Currently, they have been able to use the profits earned from horticultural production to buy six acres of land for maize and other cereal crops.

“We are now more confident in our agribusiness prospects, as our saving wallet allows us to purchase high-quality agricultural inputs,” says Nengarivo Losai, a member of the Hiari Youth Group in Kibondo.

This success is largely due to the micro-irrigation kit that the group invested in. This kit included quality inputs and horticultural/agronomic support, some of which is delivered digitally through an application created by Esoko, to ensure that farmers have the tools they need to grow their crops successfully.

The micro-irrigation kit is a low-tech solution that is easy to use and maintain. It is designed to be affordable and accessible to farmers in rural areas, where access to water can be limited.

The kit includes a drip irrigation system, which delivers water directly to the roots of the plants. This helps to minimize water waste and ensures that the plants receive the precise amount of water they need to thrive.

The kit also includes a timer, which allows farmers to schedule watering times and conserve water. By using this technology, farmers can conserve water, reduce labor costs and increase crop yields. This not only benefits the farmers themselves but also helps to ensure food security in the region.

So far, the project has impacted 4,275 micro-investors in 115 savings and loan groups, making a significant difference in the lives of farmers, and particularly women farmers in the region.

By providing them with the tools they need to grow their business in a traditionally female-dominated value chain, these farmers are able to increase their income and support their families.

This has also empowered women in the region, enabling them to make significant contributions to their families’ income and participate in family decision-making on income and other aspects, improving the overall food security and economic growth in the area.

The success of the Hiari group is just one example of how this technology, facilitated through the Kigoma Joint Programme with support from UNCDF IDE, is making a difference in the lives of women farmers in the region.

For the month of March, the Woman magazine will feature how the United Nations is working in Tanzania to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women through innovation and technology.

The author, Meg Edwin, is the Communications Lead at UNCDF-IDE

 

 

 

 

 

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