Food security: One Acre Fund strategy is game changer

TAKE a walk in the Southern Highlands (Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Ruvuma and Songwe regions) of Tanzania and you will be convinced that really this country is blessed with all sorts of agricultural produce, which if when managed as One Acre Fund is envisioning, food security will not be a headache to smallholder farmers, but also the country as a whole.

Behold, as you drive right into the grassroots, you will meet hundreds of smallholder farmers in the agricultural business not only cultivating maize, beans and sunflower to secure food, but also for sale after being also equipped with training skills and supplied with farm inputs they need to thrive.

Braving the arduous drive every day to see into it that 140, 000 smallholder farmers in Iringa, Njombe and Songwe regions first- get the right trainings on farming methods, skills, secondare supplied with agricultural inputs and third-get delivery of the farm inputs at their households, One Acre Fund Communication Officer, Dorcas Tinga says: “We put farmers first in everything we do, helping them to grow more food, plant more trees and earn more money from their harvests.

“By serving smallholder farmers here, we’re helping them to feed their families and surrounding towns’ inhabitants. Farmers choose to work with One Acre Fund will be assured to grow more food crops and make more profit, improve their families’ lives and build a better future for their communities. Zeroing on how that is achieved, she noted that One Acre Fund supplies smallholder farmers with everything they need to grow their way out of poverty. This is carried out with the realisation that simple interventions like providing them with naturally-produced hybrid seeds, quality fertilisers and training on farming best practices can have a dramatic impact.

She added: “We support farmers- most of whom are women – to feed their families and communities, improve their nutrition and increase their incomes. On working with family farms in rural areas, our focus on last-mile delivery ensures that the hardest to reach people have access to our products. Our investments in innovative products and services create cost-effective opportunities to improve farmers’ quality of life.

We help smallholder farmers build resilience for their communities and for the environment through climate-smart farming and programmes like our treeplanting initiative, a farmer-led movement with the goal of planting 1 billion trees over the next 15 years.

Training Here, technique goes handin-hand with quality supplies when it comes to success in farming. Farmers need the knowhow to maximise their yields and keep their soil healthy and this is where One Acre Fund is at hand to assist.

In practice, One Acre Fund’s team of field officers provides experts, tailored training directly to farmers throughout the year.

This includes training on land preparation, planting technique (for example, seed spacing and fertiliser microdosing), weeding, top-dress fertiliser application, pest and disease management, harvesting and drying, crop storage and processing, composting and tree planting. The work we do with farmers doesn’t stop at the first growing cycle.

Our trainings are heavily focused on the behavioural changes needed to improve soil health over time and build climate resilience, including climate-smart techniques in land management, the production and application of compost, use of agricultural lime, and intercropping.

Farm supplies As we might all know that the most basic solutions are what make a difference and put food on the tables of families, here, quality seeds, environmental friendly fertilisers and simple/ affordable farm tool are what a smallholder farmer needs and we ensure they get them.

Across our operations, we provide farmers with optimal seed varieties based on local climates. We test and offer new varieties for maximum yields and higher resilience to extreme weather, pests, and diseases.

Knowing the importance of crop diversity, we supply farmers with an increasingly diverse mixture of seeds, including maize, beans and local greens. We also provide them with high quality tree seedlings, a low-cost, high-impact asset when planted and harvested correctly. We invest tremendous resources to ensure that the seeds we offer our farmers are of the highest quality.

Every variety we offer starts with years of research, development and testing. Beyond seeds, we also provide quality fertilisers and encourage microdosing — applying small quantities of fertiliser(s) close to the seed or plant — for the most efficient use possible.

Above this, Then we supply everything farmers need through the full planting cycle, including farming tools, and harvest products. Delivery In another focus, the best supplies don’t matter if farmers in remotes areas can’t access them; the company invests in bridging the gap. This is with the realization that remote communities and infrastructure challenges bring huge challenges to smallholder farmers to concentrate on farming.

Here, One Acre Fund specializes in the last mile of delivery that is so crucial to ensuring the hardest to reach people still get access to life’s necessities. In that it distributes seeds and supplies within walking distance of farmers’ homes, delivering at just the right time so that farmers are able to get their crops in the ground at the right moment. How is this accomplished? It delivers through three channels: through retail shops, through our field officers, and most recently through trials of online apps.

In practice, it uses geotagging software to pinpoint and monitor activity at each delivery site to ensure that goods arrive and that farmers get what they ordered.

Where there are no good roads, it delivers using alternative modes of transport, like tractors and motorcycles. Trees Rural farm families need a reliable way to build long-term assets in addition to increasing seasonal harvests, which can fluctuate each year.

And this ushers in the concept of Agroforestry–the practice of planting trees alongside crops. It is one of the most powerful and environmentally impactful tools the company uses to reduce poverty.

Planting trees is a sustainable, reliable pathway to a stable income for farmers, not only directly through increased income, but also through cobenefits like improved soil health.

When planted alongside crops, most varieties of trees contribute significantly to soil health by controlling erosion, improving the soil’s ability to absorb water, and maintaining a high level of organic matter, as well as fixing nitrogen. Trees can also play an important role in improving biodiversity.

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