Youths and women in rural com-munities are in forlorn hopes of their future as youths are devoid of employment opportunities and the latter endure decades of financial backwardness at the comfort of their homes.
Such a social conundrum ringed a bell to CARE International Tanzania and reacted to the call by rolling out twin flagship projects; TnK (Tajiri-ka na Kilimo) and (Ujana ni Uchumi Imara) UCHUMI projects.
TnK is an agricultural based project focused on women empowerment whereas ‘UCHUMI’ is an economic empowerment project targeting marginalized youths. These are separate initiatives with a shared implementation approach across SAGCOT agriculture corridor.
With their deepening interconnection, they applied the same model that targeted beneficiaries engage in saving and loaning (mostly youth and women), equipping them with necessary vocational skills and monitoring their performance on the ground.
As for this article, TnK is a pre-dominant flagship with four years of implementation (2018-2022) covering neighboring regions of Iringa, Njombe and Morogoro (However Njombe is excluded in this article).
The primary goal of this project is to capacitate target youth and women on the ability to shift from subsistence farming to a much more commercialized agriculture by the courtesy of smart agricultural practices training.
To effect the project to its expected deliverables, CARE International Tanzania would not take it on its own, through a tripartite agreement, brought in SAGCOT, VETA and local government authorities as powerful arms of the project.
TnK built agribusiness skills to youths and women through three subsectors; horticulture, mixed crops farming and livestock keeping.
CARE understood that the project would change the lives of farmers and improve their earnings for better but was largely bothered by financial literacy encroaching on the capacitated farmers and there’s where a sister project, UCHUMI came knocking the door.
The more skeptical CARE International Tanzania was, the more UCHUMI initiative made sense as it was designed to acquaint the capacitated groups with financial literacy, particularly by helping them with proper use of their meager income through forming and operating youth saving and loan associations (YSLAs).
There has been recent progress in livestock keeping showcased by Agape poultry farming group located at Ifunda ward, Iringa District, in Iringa region. Ms Margareth Sikahanga was born in Njombe region but grew up in Iringa Urban, a 65–year—old woman rep-resenting her group in poultry. She is a graduate of standard seven education.
Margareth is a widow, mother to three children, grandmother to 11 grandchildren (nine females and two males). She is a living proof of how her life took turns at an introduction of TnK. “I came from a pastoral background with my late father leaving me a bequest to embrace livestock even after his demise so that it helps me with food and money for sustenance. On that score, it was easier for me to register for TnK because I was determined.
”She added that, “Before TnK, I used to keep pastured chicken with one after another dying repeatedly on my watch leaving me baffled.
At the entry of TnK, we were handed over 14 chickens to keep, however, we ended up splitting among group members for we couldn’t tame them as a group because of the inability of some members to feed them.
In the first season, I got 14 chickens and sold them to collect Sh140,000 of which helped me to buy another batch of 100 chickens to later sell each at Sh10,000 and earn Sh1 million.
”She said that during her second season, she had to set aside Sh700, 000 as a budget for the purchase of additional batches from Sh1 million and the rest of the earnings were directed into domestic spending.
Buying a bulk batch of up to 200 chickens this time projected the higher possibilities of her poultry farming venture to go sky high as she is confident of accumulating more cash compared to previous seasons, only if they all are traded.
“We were approached by the Iringa Rural Council officials who advised us to move from improper poultry farmhouses—what they connoted as ‘sleeping with chickens’ and so we were financed Sh10 million for the district youth, women and people with disability fund, split among members to build modern coop and be able to keep them in modernized practices,” elaborates Margareth who awaits Council officials to come and assess her completed new facilities.
TnK made this money—chasing granny, diversifying her business into pig farming project; starting with a female pig while expecting to sell piglets after several months. Added to her portfolio fertilizer business to make extra money for capital injection.
According to Ms Sikahanga, she shared the TnK knowledge with one of her neighbors who wasn’t part of the project. “There is a certain guy who was interested in what I had achieved in my project so far and he paid me a visit to learn and bought five chickens to start his own project. I have been keeping an eye on his progress and rectifying his wrongs.
”She is still crying out for a reliable and consistent market for her chickens and adequate funds from financial institutions that offer friendly loans to keep up with her growing business.
Mixed crops farming
Step a foot on Ilogombe village, Kibengu ward, Mufindi district, in Iringa and you will surely understand how cultivating peas, potato and beans have transformed lives of people.
Meet Branika Mpinge who was born and raised in Mufindi, a 25–year—old girl is a mother to a baby girl and wife. Upon completion of her secondary education, she quickly jumped into mixed crops farming, growing mostly potatoes, peas, and beans. She portrays a life—changing lesson through her rising pea project.
“I was attached to the traditional pea cultivation; this is to say that, by then, cultivating a hectare of peas would probably harvest up to 30 sacks — a minimum amount according to the seeds that were used. Today with TnK, I cultivated the same hectare while applying good agriculture practices which increased yields of up to 60 sacks.
She reveals that one of the huge successes garnered from growing peas is building her own house, buying a one-acre plot, and sewing machine. She and her spouse are thinking of opening a hair—cutting salon. Branika is super proud of her supportive husband who plays a big role in the strategic family plans.
They both joined the Village Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) that enabled them to have financial discipline. “Before joining, I squandered my money on buying clothes but I no longer espouse such behavior having been trained on the benefits of savings.
”She is in demand for increased knowledge on potato growing which is of little or no value according to her because of facing attacks from a different species of damaging insects.
The dynamic Branika admits that her active engagement into the project mitigated possible risks of gender-based violence encountering the largest group of households’ women. “He allowed me to attend training classes and was my number one mentor.
”She was undeterred by the Covid-19, the global crisis that saw agricultural activities shutdown during its prevalence, by deploying a risk-taking workforce and hiring tractors. “The surging fear of the pandemic made us hire tractors and few people to work on our behalf particularly on the harvesting part as we had to shift from traditional farming methods including using hand hoe.
”Lack of markets seems to be the crucial concern for Branika who lives on agriculture.
Members of the Jitegemee tomato growing group located at Doma ward, Morogoro District, Morogoro region are toasting to the good life induced by investing in tomatoes.
Hussein Omari (25) is a Morogoro—born citizen, husband and father of three. Based on tomato growing, Omari is one of the Tupendane group members who leads by example.
Raised in a disadvantaged back-ground, he resorted to agriculture as his only livelihood. Before TnK, as a traditional farmer, he used to cultivate tomatoes in a large portion of the farm but with limited harvest.
“I was growing three ha of tomatoes, reaping up to 200 crates, selling each at Sh7,000 or 15,000 (depending on the season) and earning from Sh1.4 to 3 million.
”After joining TnK training, he unveils that, “I had to reduce the cultivation space after training from three ha to a hectare, recording a massive harvest of 350 tomato crates for the whole season and walking home with Sh4.5 million. The portion of the money collected was directed to domestic spending including; buying food requirements, clothes and savings while keeping percent of it for re-investment in the next season.
”Omari is also a member of VSLA, joined back in 2008 before even the introduction of TnK. What he learned from joining VSLA is that financial discipline is an imperative trait as he was able to use the gains from his savings to purchase agricultural inputs and pesticides.
Omari really craves the idea of being supplemented with tomato process-ing knowledge and building tomato processing factories to execute a value addition business.
Youth Savings and Lending Association (YSLA)
The Tupendane YSLA found in Morogoro Urban district showed that no walls are too high to climb for youth who have a clear vision of their future through TnK.
Fairuna Magati (28) who chairs the group has revealed that their lives have been greatly impacted by the project.
“Before forming YSLA via TnK, I could spend my Sh7000 on clothes and other needs but now coming to light, I save even a dime with hopes of accruing more money later.
TnK project facilitators speak
Makarani Abdulaziz is one of the earliest CBTs who took charge of training for the project for the Iringa and Morogoro regions. He facilitated both agricultural and livestock keeping smart practices training.
Makarani along the way encountered distinguished demographics as for Iringa region men were highly reported with illiteracy compared to women and the case was vice versa for Morogoro region. “Given the discrepancies, I found a much more inclusive approach to at least make everyone enjoy the same end result of the training.”
Morogoro Urban District Council’s Community Development Officer, Florence Mwambene says that the council was responsible for the gathering of right youths who were after-wards trained to become community-based trainers (CBTs).
It also ensured that CBTs partnered with TnK and community development officers to unearth groups and impart them with commercialized agricultural practices.
Florence further notes that the council has now a total of 90 groups which have received TnK training. On the part of the Livestock and Fisheries Officer at Mvomero District Council, Natujwa Melau admits that TnK had a far—reaching impact on the groups formed around her administrative area.
“The project has proven successful considering that over 65 percent of the activities of priority by most groups are livestock keeping.”
SAGCOT, VETA reveal
John Banga, Kilombero Cluster Manager of SAG-COT elaborates that it was not a hard shell to crack when it came to partnering with CARE International Tanzania in executing the TnK project as they are a major stakeholder of agriculture growth.
As a true believer of varied partner-ships in fostering development, SAGCOT, after teaming up with CARE International Tanzania, was tasked to search for either small, medium or large potential investors who could complement the endeavor.
According to him, investments were projected to help farmers and livestock keepers across all levels benefit much from the initiative.
Things were almost the same for VETA, as its Acting Director General, CPA Anthony Kasore admitted that it was much easier for him to agree such a joint initiative pitching from CARE and SAGCOT because it was also carrying goals of the VETA of providing training to young people to achieve the intended labor market goals.
“CARE International Tanzania and SAGCOT followed us in 2017/18 as they prepared to implement the project and we thought the idea was good for us to participate,” explains CPA Kasore.
He says that the trainers came from within VETA and a few were taken from Ministry of Agriculture training institutes (MATI) and others from Livestock Institutes of Tanzania (LITA).
The selected trainers were provided with outreach training methodology for them to manage effective agribusiness skills building to women and youths practically.
According to him, the main success of their participation in the projects is the improved agricultural and livestock education (Health and Animal Production).He also says apart from that, they added elements of horticulture and crop production to other VETA’s curricula including agri-business modules.
Another success is the preparation of short-term curricula. CPA Kasore says: “We wish these projects to cover other regions that are engaged in agricultural activities in the country to reach a larger group of people,” adding that VETA is ready to partner with CARE International Tanzania in training in the future.
He calls for readiness of the target groups and availability of spacious learning infrastructure and increased resources for the beneficiaries.
CPA Kasore concludes by appealing to CARE International Tanzania urging them to continue cooperating with them and asking Councils to take responsibility for identifying trained and nurturing groups by providing them with loans that meet their needs so that they can grow.
CARE International Tanzania, government unfold
The Permanent Secretary (Livestock) of the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Tixon Nzunda has directed vocational colleges, VETA to start implementing agricultural, economic and commercial curricula — which according to the report from Directorate of Vocational Training of VETA are complete— to bolster entrepreneurship, income and welfare of individuals and country as well.
Mr Nzunda made such an instructive remark while addressing a crowd of different stakeholders at the closing ceremony of the phasing out of flagships of TnK and UCHUMI in Morogoro region.
He also commended the twin initiatives that were hosted by CARE Inter-national Tanzania through a partner-ship of VETA and SAGCOT, insisting that it has delivered to a great extent impacting many lives of target groups of youth and women.
The CARE International Tanzania supervising manager of TnK and UCHUMI projects, Samuel Chambi stated that both projects encouraged beneficiaries to form groups and later intensively capacitated them on commercialized agriculture and economy, women and youth being the key target.
He goes on to unfold that through these projects they have built capacities of more than 2,220 people, 70 percent women on vocational skills and over 15,000 youth on entrepreneurship, life skills, gender equality awareness creation.
Chambi is bold that such potentials have been exploited to a full tilt with impoverished youth groups being able to start their own agriculture and livestock projects to prosper economically.
On the other hand, CARE Inter-national Tanzania Country Director, Prudence Masako said that the organization aspires to reach out to an estimate of 200 million people driven by the goals of wanting to reduce poverty rate and inequalities by 2030.
Ms Masako further added that they have been looking for suitable models to help communities mobilize locally available resources to uplift their economic status particularly women who have always had their rights deprived and unable to speak for themselves.
She evidently affirms the relevance of the collective investment approach through saving groups as a winning strategy, one that can be scaled in other sectors across Tanzania.