We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A Day to Celebrate Farmers

Today is Nane Nane (eight-eight), a national holiday in Tanzania to celebrate the important contribution of farmers to the Tanzanian economy. 80% of people in Tanzania are subsistence farmers, so it is a significant day! And so today, we want to recognise and honour the farmers we are working with in the conservation agriculture (CA) project. We are so privileged to know the farmers in our Agricultural Groups. So many of them are resilient and generous people who live on so little and are grateful for so much. These farmers depend on what they grow to live. Their children depend on it. And there you see the risk they must take when they try something new with us!
Mama Adella in the Lutale village CA Group
But with the CA techniques that they are learning (minimal tillage, cover crops and mulching, crop rotation and timing of planting), many farmers are now seeing the positive difference it makes to their land and their harvest. What started very slowly with a few farmers in Kayenze four years ago, has now grown and spread through the different TAG churches we are working with. We are now working with six groups in six villages with five more groups starting this month. Well over a hundred farmers have been directly trained, with more farmers through the groups themselves.

We are thrilled that with Pastor Amon, the Kayenze Church (which has increased more than fourfold) is now taking on completely the CA Project for that area. We will celebrate the handover of the project next month with a feast and then they will be teaching the new groups starting in that area this year! As the other different churches develop demonstration plots, people in their local area come with questions to find out more. More groups are formed for training and individual families see the benefits of good soil, more food and extra money. Certainly these farmers are making a difference!

Now meet a few of the farmers who are making a difference in Tanzania!

Joseph Hatari in Igumumoyo

Joseph (centre) with our trainers, Elisha (left) and Peter (right)
Joseph is leading a small church in the village of Igumumoyo (Swahili for "hard-hearted") and both he and his lovely wife have such a heart to serve the people here and see the village take on new meaning!
Igumumoyo Church

The Demonstration Plot at the Church
We enjoy time spent with this lovely family! Last time we visited, after lunch we enjoyed exchanging games drawn in the dirt! Materially, the people of this village have very little, but they are certainly rich in many ways!

We had such fun teaching them how to play hopscotch after lunch!
And then they taught us a game similar to our English game of "Jacks"
Joseph's wife, Mama Daniel is an entrepreneurial farmer alongside her husband! She works so hard tending a shamba of tomatoes. Weeding, protecting, watering in harsh conditions. Twice a week she has been walking to a larger village to sell her tomatoes for the day.
Harvesting tomatoes with baby Daniel, their miracle baby.
Joseph has done well working the Demonstration Plot in Igumumoyo! He encourages the 27 farmers part of the CA group in the village. With the CA group here, we have also this year given training on the Push-Pull Technology to help drought-affected crops (see a previous blog post on this!)


Mama Veronika

One of the farmers in the Igumumoyo CA group is Mama Veronika, a farmer and mother to nine children, who has struggled to provide enough food for her family. She is already experiencing the benefits of increased harvests … and the one she mentioned to us, was the benefit of joy in the home!

Mama Veronika (top right) with a neighbour and five of her children

Peter Myuhudi in Chabakima


Peter lives with his wife, and two children in Chabakima, one of our most recent villages to work in. Our first year has been a real struggle with the demonstration farm neglected and ineffective. We doubted whether Peter would ever be able to carry the project. He just wasn't committed to making it work. However now it is a different story! We are delighted that as we have built relationship, Peter has caught the heart and vision of what we are doing and is now adopting the project with his small church. This year he is keen and excited to transform the church plot. He is planting jackbeans and maize, pigeon peas and other nitrogen-fixing crops! He is encouraging other farmers in his village and we have a new group of farmers coming together this week in Chabakima for the CA training seminar and then preparations will be underway for planting in October.

Tim with Peter, planning the Demonstration Plot at the Church

Jackbeans and harvested maize

Tito in Nyamililo


Tito is a wonderful father figure leading the church in the village of Nyamililo. This man was struggling to produce enough food when we first met him two years ago. He has been hugely supportive of the CA project, faithfully working on a very good church demonstration plot and training and encouraging others. This year, with his church hosting the training seminar for new farmers, he will teach half of the material, helped by our trainers. Elisha manages the work in this village and is excited this year to start an Agri-business arm to the project. In September, they will start a cooperative with 9-10 members to grow profits.
Tim, Tito and Elisha inspecting the Church Demonstration Plot
The Demonstration Plot at the Church
Tito and his wife have also personally benefited from the CA farming. He has been able to harvest much more than ever more. He has diversified and harvested peanuts, maize and soy beans. With the extra yields, he has been able to sell for profit and worked on building a brick house for his family! We love his family too! His daughter, Phoebe long struggled to have a child with many miscarriages. Amisadai in particular was drawn to pray for her last year and a few months ago, she gave birth to a healthy son, whom they named Elisha! 
Tito's original mud hut with the newly built, 
ever-improving brick house with tin roof on the left!
Phoebe with baby Elisha
Tito intercropping his maize with peanuts

Shadrach

Another farmer in the Nyamililo farmers group has been an exceptional asset to the community! When we first started the project in this village there was much doubt and resistance to planting jackbeans (an inedible legume that is hugely beneficial to the soil as nitrogen-fixing). Farmers questioned putting "poison" into the soil. But Shadrach gave it a go. And now we see the huge transformation … he is planting whole fields of jackbeans! He is harvesting and selling them to the other farmers who now also see the benefit they have on the soil for their other crops! Another farmer making a difference in Tanzania! 

Peter Beatus with us! 

We also want to recognize the amazing work Peter is doing training these farmers. Peter has been working with us for four years and is now managing the CA Project. He works well with the local pastors and now also with the help of Elisha (CA and Entrepreneurship) and John (CA and Beekeeping). Peter has been a huge asset to the CA project! And as well as all the work he does for us, he has also started beekeeping in his home village, passing on his knowledge from the beekeeping project to others who are managing the hives for him. He has also this year just opened his own café, which is serving good food in a clean and inviting environment near one of the villages we are working! We all enjoyed tea, chapatis and maandazi there before going on to the church service in Chabakima last Sunday!
Peter teaching CA at the Church and Transformation Seminar last week

Peter with John (L) and Elisha (R) teaching practical CA at the Seminar
So on this eighth day of the eighth month, celebrate with us the difference these farmers are making for their communities in Tanzania!

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Deut. 11:13-15