Dar es Salaam. The youth in Babati are increasingly turning to commercial farming to earn a living.
The decision by nine young people from Halla Village in the Nagara Ward in Babati District is an apparent shift from widely-held negative assumptions against farming by the youth.
Through their Baraka Youth Group, they grow both tomatoes and banana for commercial purposes.
Secretary of the group Reginald Mollel (29) said upon completing their education, they stayed for a long time searching employment before deciding to venture into commercial farming for a living.
“In 2017, my friend Leonard Joseph and I decided to start commercial farming to earn a living. We started with vegetables and tomatoes where we generated Sh700,000 in our first yield,” he said.
With traditional means in practice during early times of their venture, yields were low.
Later, they received training on Climate Smart Economic Empowerment (CSEE) from the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA).
The training exposed them to the use of pesticides, improved seeds and drip irrigation.
As a result, yields improved.
“That was how we invited our colleagues into the business. This resulted into a rise in yields,” he said, noting that currently, the group has nine members.
In 2019 the group accumulated Sh1.7 million from 1000 seedlings. After realising the benefit, they decided to increase 20 more veggie beds by renting a big farm (quarter hectare) in Babati.
They have recently planted 3,000 seedlings, which cost them Sh1.5 million. This is their fifth harvest that has seen them earning Sh3.4 million as profit so far.
Some more tomatoes were still being harvested and put on the market.
The group is now planning to raise production and worth to at least Sh100 million to grow their business and start cattle business.
Mr Leonard Joseph, who is chairperson of Baraka Youth Group, said with the business he has achieved a number of things, including buying his own one-hectare of land upon which he grows banana from the profit accumulated in their tomato business.
NCA communications and advocacy officer Nizar Selemani said their focus for the 2020-2024 programme was to help at least 18,000 farmers out of poverty through CSEE
“That way, we seek to create at least 3,000 new jobs for the youth,” she said.