Linkages between FACASI and VINESA

By Liz Ogutu

Jengeka women’s group secretary, Anzila Gerald explains to FACASI Tanzania project Coordinator, John Sariah the benefits of being in the group. Photo credit: L Ogutu ACIAR.

We travelled to Maweni village in Arumeru to visit the farmers trialling the two-wheel tractors and ancillary machines and undertook a very interesting discussion around the various machines tested, what they have learnt and the challenges they continue to face.

The village has a group of women farmers known as Jengeka and a youth group known as Mboga Mboga (which directly translates to vegetables vegetables). The project team had identified these two groups as Innovation Platforms (IPs) to promote learning and sharing knowledge. The women’s group had been set up earlier in 2008 through activities from previous development agencies but neither group had been registered.

Mboga Mboga youth group mentor, Elisa Pallangyo (left standing), explains to the project team some of the challenges they face and the machines they have found to be ideal for their needs. Photo credit: L Ogutu ACIAR.

They were quick to articulate how they have benefited from various projects and the knowledge transferred to them. They were also certain about which machines they would like to use in the field, mainly because of the hard soils and local climatic conditions. It was clear that they knew most of the advantages of being in a collective group however, they did not know about the loan scheme provided by the ministry of agriculture to buy farm machinery. When asked, the women indicated that they are capable of using the machines and if not, young men would be employed to operate them. The women had set up kitchen gardens and were already witnessing the advantages of supplementing their family diets with vegetables. A major concern for the youth group was lack of a stable market for their vegetable produce and they were keen to test machinery to process their tomatoes and avoid loss.

This is the same field site as AVRDC, The World Vegetable Centre, with its business hubs which are training young farmers on vegetable farming for income and nutrition (VINESA) – another AIFSRC funded project.

The Maweni Youth Vegetable Growers Association (MAYOVEGA) in class during the value-chain training for the VINESA project. Front-left is Ms Agatha Aloyce, the Tanzania project coordinator from HORTI-Tengeru. Photo credit: L Ogutu ACIAR.

FACASI is already sixteen months old - a project that tests business models for farm mechanisation by identifying best-bet machines for specific regions in four countries in Africa. The project has agronomists working with engineers, business specialists, farmers and socio-economists. There is so much that has been achieved – with the different specialists working well together; but there’s still quite a lot to be done and AIFSRC is linking FACASI team members with its peri-urban vegetable project team (VINESA) to create synergies for greater impact.

It is always amazing to see how ubiquitous the eucalyptus, an Australian tree, is in eastern Africa and the trip from Arusha town to Maweni village in Arumeru did not disappoint. We drove past hundreds of old and new growths of eucalyptus for the two-hour drive to and from the village. Although Arumeru in Tanzania is so much higher in altitude than some areas in Australia, there is a lot of ecological similarity, and it is no wonder that Australia’s expertise in agriculture and natural resource management would be beneficial to this region in Tanzania.