The Sustainable Food Lab hosted three concurrent Learning Journeys as part of its Annual Leadership Summit in Arusha, Tanzania. The Learning Journeys provided first-hand experiences with diverse farmers, companies, and development organizations that informed learning and discussions on sustainable agriculture and sustainable sourcing.
Learning Journey #1: Arusha, Tanzania
Agriculture is the main economic activity of the Arusha region, contributing more than 45% of regional GDP and more than 75% of export earnings. The primary food crop is maize. Yet, horticulture is the fastest growing industry within the sector, recording an annual average growth of 9-13% over the past seven years, as more farmers move from subsistence to commercial agriculture and climate is shifting what can be produced. Because of the availability of transportation (KIA/JRO airport is nearby), the region is building its export market.
Visits on this Learning Journey included:
Afri Sem—A partnership between seed breeding companies, Dutch Rijk-Zwann and Thai East-West Seed. To feed a growing population without expanding into vulnerable ecosystems, increased productivity is needed. From their experiences in other parts of the world, AfriSem is convinced that adapted plant varieties are an absolute necessity for developing the African horticultural and agricultural sector. Furthermore, a higher productivity of adapted plant varieties will increase rural income. Because the current vegetable seed market is small and seed prices low, this market has not been a priority, however, AfriSem has taken on this challenge and begun a market-oriented vegetable crop breeding program for Africa which has the potential to make a significant contribution to farmer productivity and the overall rural economy in Africa.
Darsh Industries— Darsh Industries was founded in 1999 when a businessman, Bhadresh Pandit, decided to make tomato products. He went on to develop innovative products like tomato paste for first time in Tanzania, and today Darsh Industries has developed a fruit and vegetable product line under the brand name REDGOLD, which is produced under one of the most modern, hygienic, quality focused manufacturing units in Tanzania. As the typical market demand is for large tomatoes, 30-40% of what is produced would normally be wasted. Darsh uses those “waste” tomatoes in their products. They also separate out the tomato seeds and work with AVRDC to get them back to farmers.
The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)— The World Vegetable Center conducts research, builds networks, and carries out training and promotion activities to raise awareness of the role of vegetables for improved health and global poverty alleviation. Vegetable production and processing can alleviate poverty by creating new jobs and new sources of income for farmers and landless laborers, improve health by providing essential micronutrients lacking in diets, enhance learning and working capacities of adults and children through improved diets and health, and improve the sustainability of food production practices by diversifying cropping systems. The Center’s research and development work focuses on breeding improved vegetable lines, developing and promoting safe production practices, reducing post harvest losses, and improving the nutritional value of vegetables.
Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA)— TAHA is a private sector, member-based organization that advocates for the growth and competitiveness of the horticultural industry in Tanzania. Since its inception in 2004, TAHA has been an effective platform for producers, traders, exporters and processors of horticultural products, mainly ﬂowers, fruits, vegetables, horticultural seeds, and spices. The Association safeguards the interest of the private sector and ensures the industry issues are well mainstreamed at the national and international agenda. TAHA runs several affiliate businesses that provide market access, technical support, and logistics for small producers.
Learning Journey #2: Moshi, Tanzania
Coffee is Tanzania’s largest export crop and has had its ups and downs over the years. While stability in coffee production has been improved through the creation of an independent Tanzanian Coffee Board overseeing the sector, climate change has recently impacted the productivity of coffee growers in this region. 90% of the growers are smallholder and are looking at diversification options to mitigate climate effects. In Tanzania, the Hai and Moshi districts of Kilimanjaro region have the biggest potential for horticultural growth. Besides having a good equatorial climate that allows year-round production, Moshi is a perfect location for export because of its good connections to the major eastern African seaports of Mombasa and Dar Es Salaam.
Visits on this Learning Journey included:
Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Sector of Africa (SEVIA)—SEVIA contributes to the development of the vegetable industry in Africa and to food security focusing primarily on production for the local market. SEVIA works with AfriSem to develop better seeds for African vegetable varieties that are specifically bred for individual regions and work with farmers around the country to enhance productivity and increase farmers’ income through the sharing of technical innovations, support, and training. SEVIA also partners with input providers to increase the amount of technical support being provided to farmers. Demonstration farms are set up in different areas to showcase how new technologies as basic as seedling trays, plant spacing, trellising, drip irrigation, plastic mulch, etc. can impact production.
Solidaridad, Soil & More, Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung Africa (HRNS)—Coffee production is declining in northern Tanzania. Those that are continuing are mostly smallholders who need various kinds of help to increase productivity for a sustainable livelihood. Training, joining farmer organizations, and growing for local markets are helping. But access to market and access to finance remain issues. Soil recovery efforts, tree planting, diversification with agriculture and livestock, as well as reorganization of the coffee sector as a whole, are making a difference.
VECO Passion Fruit Pilot—Starting a value chain from scratch is hard. Taking into account climate and soil conditions, research showed that passion fruit was a viable crop for this part of Tanzania. Using best practices like engaging lead farmers, new ways of contracting such as offering a fixed price for the first 12 months, and participation in farmer groups as their role evolves are just some of the new ways VECO is supporting passion fruit farmers to develop this value chain. Risk tolerance, financing, and trust are all issues at play here.
Yieldwise/Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)/World Food Program (WFP)—The goal of the YieldWise Initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation is to reduce post-harvest losses in the maize value chain in Tanzania by 50% from 27.5% to 13.75% by 2019. The impact of reduced crop loss is an increase in farmers’ income by 25%. The project implements an intervention model that combines the following four integrated components:
- Bringing farmers together for training, aggregation of produce and awareness on post‐harvest management technologies
- Increasing farmer access to finance and credit opportunities to help them afford technologies, and also promote investment in the agriculture sector through forward contracts via the Patient Procurement Platform
- Creating new market linkages for smallholder farmers with anchor buyers for their surplus harvest, and
- Promoting distribution and adoption of loss‐reducing technologies to improve crop handling, storage and processing.
TPC—Situated in the Kilimanjaro region, TPC Ltd is one of Tanzania’s largest sugar estates. Of its 16,000 hectares of land, 8,000 hectares are used for sugar cane cultivation. Over the years, TPC Ltd has made significant investments in the rehabilitation and upgrading of fields, infrastructure and equipment. As a result of the sustained progress made in these areas, sugar production has increased from an annual production base of 30,000 tonnes to the present 100,000 tonnes. At the same time, considerable experience was acquired and efficiency gains were achieved in a number of areas including cane varieties, fertilization, irrigation, transport and sugar recovery. Although its operations have reached maturity and are showing positive results, TPC Ltd plans to further increase sugar production in the coming years by cultivating additional land, introducing new cane varieties, adopting more efficient irrigation and fertilization methods and improving factory recoveries. Other potential development projects for years to come include the setting up of a distillery to improve the value added from molasses and the extension of electricity production throughout the year by burning non-cane biomass in the intercrop. TPC Ltd has 1,900 permanent employees and an additional 1,000 seasonal workers. It also provides an additional 800 jobs through outsourced services. Its CSR programme targets the promotion of community-based revenue-enhancing initiatives, targeting healthcare, education and infrastructure.
Learning Journey #3: Nairobi/Lake Naivasha area, Kenya
Expanding our view of East Africa beyond Tanzania, Kenya’s economy is dominated by agriculture and about one-half of its total agricultural output is non-marketed subsistence production. It employs about 75% of the workforce. Kenya is a leading producer of tea and coffee and the third-leading exporter of fresh produce including cabbages, onions and mangos.
Visits on this Learning Journey include:
Mavuno Zaidi— In 2013, Syngenta and TechnoServe partnered to improve productivity and input usage among Kenyan potato and tomato farmers. After an initial diagnostic, Mavuno Zaidi was launched in order to assist 8,392 potato and tomato farmers in Rift Valley and Eastern Kenya to increase their income via improved input use, adoption of good production practices and improved market access. To date, the results of Mavuno Zaidi have been promising. In the first season of the program, potato and tomato farmers experienced a production increase and spent more on seed and other inputs. Syngenta and TechnoServe are now looking to scale the pilot to increase potato and tomato production and income of 15,000 smallholder farmers and expand sales of quality inputs in the region.
East African Dairy Development Program/Heifer International/Ol Kalou Dairy Hub—A joint project of Heifer, TechnoServe, and Africa Breeder Sciences, this initiative involves over 136,000 dairy farmers in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda with the goals of increasing farmer income by improving production per cow per household, promoting dairy hubs, and enabling gender equity. The Dairy Hubs serve as a one-stop shop and provide chilling, training, extension services, banking and credit union access, transportation/logistics and insurance. Besides the farmers, there are over 400,000 secondary beneficiaries—including new value-added businesses springing up around the hubs.
Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Farmer School and Tea Factory— Indigenous Kenyans were barred by law from growing tea until the dawn of independence in December of 1963 when the legislation was repealed. In 1960, the colonial government created the Special Crops Development Authority (SCDA) to promote growing of tea by Africans under the auspices of the ministry of Agriculture. After Independence, Kenya Tea Development Authority was formed and took over the liabilities and functions of the SCDA to promote and foster the growing of tea on small farms, which were previously said to be unviable in view of the expertise and costs required, as witnessed in the plantation sector. Since then the growing of tea by the small-scale sub-sector in Kenya has carved a niche for itself in the global tea trade. The Agency currently manages 67 factories in the small-scale tea sub-sector in Kenya and provides support to smallholder growers primarily in the form of farmer field schools.
Imarisha Naivasha—This multi-stakeholder collaboration provides a landscape approach for sustainable development around Lake Naivasha addresses wildlife management, fishing, farming, solid waste, reforestation, water, and more, and operates from the lake level to the upper cachements. The Lake Naivasha basin is a very significant landscape at the local, national and International levels from both ecological and socio-economic perspectives. It is also a complex entity with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and diverse though sometimes conflicting interests. The entire basin is faced with numerous challenges influenced by the increasing human population and the scramble for natural resources to sustain community livelihoods and investments. The resultant effects of these challenges have been major impacts on water availability, quality and provision of other ecosystem services.
VegPro— With over 35 years’ of trading experience, VP Group is now at the forefront of fresh produce, flowers and logistics, with multiple operations across Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana & Tanzania. Becoming more vertically integrated, VegPro has moved into all aspects of production from breeding to having their own marketing operations in major markets. With extensive composting and biomass power production, along with food donations to schools in Nairobi or feed for cattle, nothing goes to waste. An award-winning company, they offer a leadership development program to develop in-country talent.