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Enhancing horticultural production in Dodoma, Tanzania

16 February 2022

Enhancing horticultural production in Dodoma, Tanzania

Meet Gerald Jackson, a 31-year-old farmer with three children, from Chiwe village in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, who joined Farm Africa’s Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) project in 2020.

Funded by Irish Aid through the World Food Programme and implemented in collaboration with district governments, the project organised Gerald and other community members into farmer groups, who could learn together, as well as work together to sell their crops in bulk and secure better prices.

Having harvested and sold Chinese cabbage in 2019, which he cultivated on a half-acre farm, Gerald had a unique history of growing garden products.

During the project he gained technical expertise and market skills, which helped him to boost his Chinese cabbage production, as well as start to grow other vegetables and the drought-tolerant crop sorghum.

Diversification of crops

Although Gerald used to be a firm believer in single crop farming, the project strengthened his gardening knowledge and introduced him to the practice of vegetable crop diversification, which he now integrates into his farming.

In the year 2020/2021, Gerald achieved significant success by increasing his output of Chinese cabbage and gaining access to profitable markets in Gairo town centre and Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam. With the proceeds, Gerald was able to purchase a motorcycle, renovate his mother’s house and build a new house.

“On my two acres before joining CSA project I managed to harvest an average of 128 bags of Chinese cabbage. After project interventions on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) training I successfully managed to increase productivity to 180 bags, which boosted my household income” commented Gerald.

In 2021, Gerald learnt how to structure and split two acres into a number of plots, and started multiplying habanero seedlings (hot pepper).

Gerald anticipates he will produce five varieties of horticulture crops on his two-acre farm in the coming season, as the project linked him to reliable markets for habanero peppers. Along with this, he expects to farm bell peppers, watermelons and short maturing maize, as well as Chinese cabbage.

Facing obstacles

Gerald has run into several obstacles, including insect pest infestation, particularly Tuta absoluta attacks, and fungal disease, primarily powdery mildew, which occurs in high humidity from March to July.

But the project empowered Gerald to withstand such obstacles, providing him with NSA training on insect pest and disease prevention and control, and connecting him with agro-dealers who provided recommended pesticides and tolerant seeds.

Solar irrigation

As a result of the project, Gerald was able to acquire a solar irrigation pump from Simu Solar, which he uses to water vegetables and has already cut his irrigation costs by 40%, as he no longer has to rely on buying tap water.

“In vegetable farming, water is a critical component, and on my farm, I was able to build three boreholes that provided me with some irrigation water, but I still relied on village water (tap water), which costs TZS 97,900 per irrigation cycle, for a total of TZS 195,800 per week, which was relatively expensive given that I irrigate my farm twice a week,” added Gerald.

Empowering young people

Throughout 2021, Gerald became a champion farmer for Chinese cabbage production in his village. Farmers from the project visited him to learn more, after which he formed a youth group named Nguvu Kazi Vijana Chiwe.

During the 2021/22 season the youth group grew Chinese cabbage and began selling in Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam and other nearby towns. They hope to continue to grow their production and revenue this season, as the project will continue to collaborate with them to improve the production and marketing of their vegetable crops.

As he looks to the future, Gerald has plans to buy a vehicle that is more efficient than his motorcycle and expand the depth of a borehole, which the project has helped with by enabling Gerald and his peers to obtain a zero-interest loan from the Kongwa district government to increase their operating capital.

Gerald’s successful farming throughout the project has seen him influence young and adult farmers alike to also take up vegetable farming. Thanks to the project and Tanzania's remarkable growth in horticulture, Gerald and his village’s fellow young farmers have a bright future ahead of them.