“Bustani ya Tushikamane” is Swahili and roughly translates as “Garden of Solidarity”. It is a garden of both solidarity and demonstration and is designed to address the needs and concerns of farmers, allowing them to increase their yields in a sustainable way. The Garden and adjacent Information Centre is a meeting place for local farmers, researchers and school children, who all use its resources. They jointly discuss the changes facing agriculture and possible solutions. The knowledge they acquire is then passed on to others. By providing the latest information to small-scale famers, agricultural advisers and institutions as well as schools, the Information Centre acts as a bridge between research and practical farming.
In Tanzania, farming is the main source of income for 80% of the population. A lack of or outdated knowledge, leached soils, climate change and tight budgets present small-scale famers with major challenges. In order to increase yields without buying expensive chemical pesticides and fertilisers, farmers need information on ecological solutions. This information must be clear, understandable and tailored to the needs of farmers. It must also be disseminated in a targeted and effective way. Since 2009, farmers participating in the project “Bustani ya Tushikamane” have been provided with information on a range of issues, e.g. ecological methods of pest control, composting, erosion control and product marketing. The farmers also learn how to apply this knowledge in practice in their fields. The Centre is the first skills and training centre in Tanzania devoted to ecological farming.
By the end of 2016, 2,920 farmers and 360 agricultural advisers will have benefited from practical training in ecological agriculture. In addition, some 6,200 people have visited the Information Centre and obtained advice on increasing yields using sustainable, ecological methods and reducing post-harvest losses. 60 students have benefited from work and research placements. Indirectly, some 36,000 people have benefited from the knowledge and experience gained by the farmers who have attended the Centre and 11,600 family members now enjoy better food and higher incomes. In the period up to the end of 2015, some 50% of the beneficiaries were women. Wherever possible, the percentage of women in the farming groups benefiting from the project is at least 50%.
- Prepare targeted information, distribute it effectively and provide concrete training to farmers, agricultural advisers and local non-government organisations.
- Establish networks and provide support to local agricultural students by means of applied research done in conjunction with local farmers.
- Develop the Farmer Training Centre (FTC) into a self-supporting model farm with diverse sources of income (earnings from sustainable agriculture production, processing and training).
The project has already directly benefited a total of 3,673 farmers, either through training sessions at the Demonstration Garden or the Farmer Training Centre (FTC). At present, 208 farmers from 8 farmer groups are attending a training course designed to lead to certified organic status for the farmer groups. In the current project phase 2014-2016, FTC’s income from courses and the sale of agricultural products was USD 64,800. In 2013, the Demonstration Garden was expanded by 50 hectares and a large model farm was created for the FTC. The latter is used by farmers, agricultural advisers, researchers and students as a training and research centre. The courses offered by the FTC normally last a week and include food and accommodation as many farmers travel considerable distances. In addition, additional accommodation has been constructed at the FTC to accommodate course instructors and FTC staff. The FTC infrastructure is now complete.
It is planned that SAT, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania will take over the activities of the project in full by the end of 2016, including their funding. The knowledge acquired by SAT during “Bustani ya Tushikamane” will be made available to as many stakeholders in Tanzania as possible. From 2017, SAT will deliver various new activities in order to disseminate more widely the information and its application. This will include networking and research opportunities in ecological agriculture.