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Horticulture lifts lives of poor families

Horticulture lifts lives of poor families

IT’s Tuesday morning, journalists arrives at Gadamaya village, Gallapo ward, about 30-minute drive from town in Babati district.

Before disembarking from their car, a group of villagers, all wearing yellow t-shirts and bunches of traditional necklaces wrapped up on their necks, emerged from the front of the car.

They started beating traditional drums while splendidly dancing to the beats---it is the traditional dance by the Wafyomi or Wagorowa tribe.

It was a sign of expressing a warm welcome to the visitors, especially after having been informed over the visit.

Their joy and cheers was upon informed over purpose of the journalists’ visit, which is to report on their success in horticulture cultivation in the last three years using drip irrigation system, under the so called climate-smart agriculture.

Climate-smart agriculture involves farming practices that improve farm productivity and profitability, help farmers adapt to the negative effects of climate change and mitigate climate change effects.

While dancing and singing, the group of traditional dancers accompanied the journalists to a house of one of their very-successful fellow farmer- Mr Dodo Matambo.

Matambo’s house is surrounded with green plantations; he grows pawpaw, vegetables like Chinese as well as hot peppers.

He and his wife have divided responsibilities; while Mr Matambo is in charge of taking care of vegetables and pawpaw his wife deals with pepper farming.

They are among beneficiaries of the project called Climate Smart Economic Empowerment (CSEE) implemented by the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and its partners including religious leaders and district authorities.

The project aims at improving lives of Tanzanians living in extreme poverty.

NCA Communication and Advocacy Officer, Nizar Seleman, says the project focus for the 2020-2024 countrywide is to help 18,000 farmers climb out of poverty, 21,000 farmers supported with climate smart food production systems, and 3000 new job created for the youth.

The project offers innovative and affordable agribusiness solutions to smallholder farmers in rural areas.

The NCA says through the micro and next level investments modals in poultry, vegetable and fruit farming women and youth have increased household’s income and they have become food secure.

At this juncture, Mr Matambo and his wife have therefore become a living proof.

The project deploys agronomists to offer best farming practices to them as well as trade officers to help them find market for their produce

The agronomists helped them installing system for drip irrigation to cultivate vegetables and fruits.

The experts have since then continued offering time-to-time extension services which saw Mr Matambo and his wife making great strides in horticulture.  

By using the irrigation system, the poor villagers could cultivate in a small land but yield high harvests.

“I never had knowledge on drip irrigation…this technology has really helped my family growing vegetables profitably,”

“The project made us successful in farming vegetables since the earnings from the crop helps us meet several family needs including paying school fees for our children,” Mr Matambo, a father of six, narrates, noting that the income has also enabled him building a new house.

His farm has been designated as a demonstration farm for his fellow villagers to come and learn from it.

Through his farm, several other villages adopted the modal of farming, and have increased their income through selling the vegetables and fruits.

His wife, Fatuma, who grows hot peppers, also shares her success story, saying she invested about only 50,000/- in last October but she could now earn over 300,000/- monthly from selling the hot peppers.

Since the drip irrigation system was already there, the amount she had invested was on buying seeds and fertilizers.

Her first harvest was in January when she got 37 buckets full of peppers and sold 10,000/- each.

Among others, she uses the earnings from selling the peppers to contribute to the Community Health Insurance (CHI) for her family, thus getting rid of digging deeper into pocket to pay for the health services.

“The money I get from selling peppers helps me to buy food stuff and other needs for my family, thus helping my husband taking care of the family,” she says.

Another farmer, Ms Natalia Haima living at Ayamango village, Gallapo ward, says she has been engaged in the project for the past three months by growing vegetables near her home.

In a just small piece of land, Ms Haima can earn between 7000/- and 8000/- weekly after selling the vegetables.

Previously she was only cultivating maize for food at home, making life difficult when it comes to getting money for meeting other needs of her family of five children.

Ms Haima got engaged in the project after she heard from her neighbour, Mzee Timotheo Tarmo, who had learnt from Mr Matambo’s farm.

Mzee Tarmo was a game changer at Ayamango village since he was the one who spread information over horticulture by using drip irrigation facilitated by the Climate Smart Economic Empowerment (CSEE) project.

“After witnessing successes at Mr Matambo’s farm I was inspired and started motivating my fellow villagers here to organize themselves for getting education on better farming practices,” 68-year Mzee Tarmo recalls.

Project’s business development officer, Ms Beatrice Kasala, says she normally links the farmers in the village with individual buyers of the vegetables and fruits from Babati town to create a value chain.

Ms Beatrice notes that the project stipulates that farmers are supposed to form groups for them to access market easily.

During harvest the farmers in their groups send their produce at a prepared collection centre where buyers could buy them collectively.

Formation of the groups has also helped those small farmers to donate money and buy fertilizers and pesticides for sharing among themselves.

“We also form groups to educate them in groups over best farming practices instead of going to each farmer,” she argues.

Project lead agronomist for Babati district, Mr Hussein Kahabuka, explains that the project started 2016 whereby in 2017 it expanded in 5 villages.

Since the project started in Babati rural, a total of 191 households have been reached and they engage in growing vegetables and fruits using climate-smart agriculture modal.

Mr Kahabuka says that a farmer could only pay 15,000/- for buying water pipes and agronomists from the project help him or her install the drip irrigation system for their farms.

Apart from economic benefits, the growing vegetables and fruits also provides health benefits to the villagers.

Late last year, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa ordered the ministry of agriculture to form a special authority for supervising the horticulture sub-sector to reap more benefits.

In line with this, the Premier wanted a centre for horticulture to be in place to conduct studies for boosting growth of horticulture in various places in the country.

His directive comes in the wake of potentials in the horticulture sub-sector which has so far employed over 4 million Tanzanians.

Mr Majaliwa noted that the country's horticulture production has increased by 10.5 per cent.

The industry is the fastest growing  sub sector  within the   agricultural sector with  an annual        average  growth       of about  9- 12 percent     per   annum. 

This record of growth is more than double the   overall annual growth rate of  the   agricultural  sector.

Apart from the regional and international market, Tanzania’s demand for horticulture produce stands at 8.13 million tonnes annually and the amount is expected to go up to 11 million tons in the next five years.

Statistics indicate that the East African region and the Southern African Development Countries imported horticultural products worth USD 6.6 billion (15.2tri/-) between the year 2015 and 2019, which means USD 1.3 billion (3.04 tri/-) every year.

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Author: BERNARD LUGONGO

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