Rural women in SINGIDA and Shinyanga are slowly but surely moving from conventional subsistence farming to commercial and diversified horticultural production to fight poverty.
Over the past two years, through the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) and a pilot project by UN Women, nearly 500 rural women and girls have organized themselves into groups to cultivate horticultural crops.
Now they smile proudly all the way to the bank as they earn millions of shillings, thanks to their willingness to embrace horticulture as a profitable business in the service of sustainable development.
Official statistics from TAHA show that a total of 26.5 acres of land have been developed to grow passion fruit, tomatoes, watermelons, onions, mangoes, cucumbers and cabbage.
TAHA CEO Dr Jacqueline Mkindi said 64.7 metric tons of tomatoes, 20.2 metric tons of onions and 3.7 metric tons of passion fruit have been harvested so far, yielding women and girls incurred 34.1 million/-.
Hard-earned income was used to expand their farms, send children to the best schools, build or repair modern houses, Dr Mkindi explained, stressing that if you empower a woman, you also empower society.
“My greatest triumph is that these women ensure that their families are fed, clothed, housed and can receive a good education. They have reinvested 90% of their income in their families, thus ensuring the development of the whole family,” she noted.
Ms. Aziza Nyuha of the Munyu Women’s Group in Ikungi, Singida, says they have started working on business-oriented production planning based on market demand, which leads to gainful employment.
“We are now growing high-value crops that attract international market demand such as chilli, tomato, onion, watermelon, passion fruit and cucumber, as opposed to traditional crops that were mainly for subsistence, Nyuha said.
TAHA’s evidence indicates that “horticulture gives a higher return per investment, which means home gardens bring more money into the pockets of beneficiaries.”
In addition, the products from these gardens contribute to increasing the availability of and access to healthy and diversified food at the local level, which contributes to improving food and nutritional security in rural communities.
These gardens provide valuable space for mutual learning and information sharing. Unlike individual gardens, community gardens provide the perfect space for farmers to exchange ideas and teach each other good farming practices.
Their members are mostly women who, by working together, build trust and solidarity to better address their common social issues.
Lumolumo Women’s Group President, Ms. Angelina Jackson Lutego, said her group in Msalala District, Shinyanga Region, with just over two acres used for growing tomatoes, watermelons and fruit of passion, they have been able to do more than 10 m/- in the past two years. seasons.
“The project has gone a long way towards improving our socio-economic status. We are now earning millions of shillings from zero income, which enables us to meet the basic needs of our families, including sending our children to school to ensure their future,” Ms. Lutego said.
The project, implemented by TAHA in collaboration with UN Women, Ikungi and Msalala District Councils, has seen a dramatic increase in the productivity and incomes of women and girls, through the widespread adoption of smart farming technologies climate change, best practices, finance and market access.
The group has also been able to replicate the model with 14 other women’s groups and 30 people in the Shinyanga area who are now taking up horticulture, a huge multiplier effect attracting a critical mass of small-scale farmers.
During the first year (2020-2021), a total of 16 women producer groups with more than 200 women and adolescent girls from the two regions were reached and received training on good agricultural practices, nutrition, entrepreneurship and commercialization.
TAHA’s Executive Partner to the CEO, Mr. Simon Mlay, says this initiative is improving the socio-economic status of rural communities through horticulture value chains. Women regain their dignity, their self-esteem and are more and more appreciated in their families.
From 2022, the project has started to bear fruit, as progress has been seen among producer groups thanks to which women have become more economically empowered, aware of their potential and in decision-making and are become catalysts of change for other women in their surrounding communities.