«Diversity ensures that we have something to eat every day»


Patricio Frei, Biovision.

Tanzania reached a milestone in December when it launched its national strategy to scale up agroecology. Mwatima Juma from our partner organisation TOAM explains why this is so important for smallholder families and what role Biovision played in the development process.

Biovision is increasingly involved in the development of national agroecology strategies, namely in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This approach can make an important contribution to significantly raising up agroecology as a political priority at national level by introducing targeted measures that support farmers and other food system stakeholders along the agri-food value chain. This is also evident from the interview with Mwatima Juma:

What is the purpose of the national agroecology strategy?

The strategy aims to systematically promote organic farming in Tanzania. That’s completely new: the Tanzanian government had hardly ever addressed this issue before. However, the government has the upper hand when it comes to developing communities and safeguarding people’s livelihoods. This means that the only way to achieve something is to involve the government. That is why we at TOAM have been working with other organisations to ensure that the government develops a strategy in this area. The government was sceptical at first, but finally agreed to draw up a strategy for organic farming.


Mwatima Juma

As a representative of the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), Mwatima Juma was involved in the development of the NAS in Tanzania, where it is called the National Ecological Organic Agriculture Strategy (NEOAS). Dr Mwatima Juma specialises in rural development and runs an organic permaculture farm.

«We now have a basis we can refer to»; launch of the national strategy to support agroecology in Tanzania.

How was the strategy developed?

First of all, we formed a steering committee made up of representatives of the government and of non-governmental organisations. Discussions were held with farmers and other local people to understand the difficulties they encountered in relation to organic farming and to ask them to identify opportunities. This resulted in an initial draft of the strategy, which was then evaluated again by the same people: we discussed the results with farmers and representatives of organisations and agreed on modifications to the strategy. We repeated this process with the second and third drafts until we had a version that was accepted by both the government and involved stakeholders. We now have a basis we can refer to as we continue working with the Ministry.

Why is this strategy so important for smallholder families in Tanzania?

Because most people in Tanzania belong to smallholder families. And we are increasingly realising that conventional agriculture is not suitable for everyone. Monoculture does not help smallholder families to meet their needs. Agroecological agriculture is about preserving the ecosystem, ensuring fairness in production, and protecting the health of people and the soil. Smallholder families can achieve all this with agroecological techniques. I know from my own experience on my small farm in Zanzibar that diversity enabled us to produce enough to eat every day of the year.


What role did Biovision play in this whole process?

Biovision was very helpful. We also had support from other NGOs. If you want to develop a strategy that really ensures food security, you can’t sit in an office and write a document. You have to go out and talk to the people on the ground. Biovision made this possible for us by funding workshops. Biovision’s technical input was also very important for developing the strategy. And thanks to Biovision, we have been able to engage in dialogue with organisations and governments from other countries and learn from their processes of developing national agroecology strategies.

So what are the challenges in terms of implementation?

Awareness must be raised among farmers. But the awareness of consumers is even more important, so that they encourage farmers to grow what is good for them. This in turn supports the work of advisory services and experts in government agencies and research departments. The implementation of the strategy offers a multitude of possibilities, not least economically.


David Silinde, Deputy Minister of Lands and Mwatima Juma taste different dishes.

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