Farming and learning in groups seem to be the best way to increased knowledge and income among small holder farmers in Tanzania as they recount their success stories.
Mrs. Elizabeth Francis, a 65-year-old farmer, and mother of four is a member of a farmer group called Harambee group which started in 2006. Most days, Mrs. Francis travels about six kilometres from her home to the two-hectare farm where the group cultivates bananas.
She explains that, apart from banana farming, the group raises poultry, grows and sells tree seedlings. “The purpose for establishing the group which currently has 30 members was to eliminate poverty as the group’s income is shared among members, helping to improve their livelihoods.” She added.
According to Mrs Francis, she has benefited from the trainings that the group received from various institutions. “Since joining this group, I have been very successful in farming. Previously, I did not know about value addition, but now I am benefiting a lot from selling processed banana products.” She added.
The group teaches its members how to process raw bananas into flour, crisps, and other products and making more money with these value-added products than when they were selling raw bananas.
She has also acquired skills on how to rear chickens. She explains, “Previously my chickens were just dying. But I had the training opportunity in poultry farming through my group, and now I have many chickens.”
The tree seedlings also contribute significantly to their income. For Instance, “In 2018, we successfully sold 1,000 tree seedlings and were paid 300,000 Tanzanian shillings ($129 US). We used the money to buy 150 hens to be raised by the group in order to lay eggs.” Mrs. Frances stated.
The selling and distributing tree seedlings to various regions in Tanzania, including Dodoma, also go a long way to helping reforestation efforts plans by government.
Mrs. Francis attributes her success to the group adding that the group farming has really helped her to build a house and improve her household economy.”
Theresia Mushi is another farmer in the Harambee group. She says group farming has been a game changer for her income as well as her farming knowledge. She explains: “Actually, there has been an economic change in our household compared to previously when I had not joined group farming. At that time, I was not earning enough to support my family.”
An agricultural specialist in Arusha region, Niko Luambano stressed that it’s easy for farmers to receive training when they are organized in a group.
Mr. Luambano noted that Many farmer groups are dying because of lack of expert advice. Hence, It is good for this Harambee group to use specialists in order to acquire farming skills for them to achieve their goals.
“Harambee group has invested in bananas. They have learned that it is best to focus on the technical steps in modern banana plantations to ensure they get the most out of the crop. The steps include digging holes, putting enough fertilizer in one hole, and making sure the soil is good for the crop.” He added.
This story was produced by Farm Radio International. https://farmradio.org/