The Project at a Glance:
Resilient Agriculture & Self Help Groups – In Partnership with the Local Church
Location – Dodoma, Central Tanzania
Local Church Partners –
- Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT)
- Development Arm is DSC
People Impacted –
- 3,290 Farm Families
- 2,360 Savings Group families
Women Impacted – 63%
Total Project 2019-2021 – $200,000 per year
For decades, the people of Central Tanzania have faced the challenge of food insecurity due to low rainfall and inefficient farming methods. The majority of households depend solely on farming activities as their source of income, and as a result, live in extreme poverty. Food insecurity and poverty is high within households, with many surviving on less than one dollar a day. There are no ethical financial services available for poor rural farmers with few tangible assets.
Tearfund Canada is working with the development arm of the Anglican Church in Tanzania, the predominant evangelical church in the region to fight against hunger and extreme poverty. Introduced to new Conservation Agriculture techniques, and Village Savings and Loans methods, community members are taught and empowered to use their own resources to exit poverty.
- Food insecurity and malnutrition
- Extreme poverty
- Lack of access to financial services for savings and loans services.
- Low, erratic rainfall and a short – wet season
- Soil degradation due to poor farming technologies
- Poor crop yields
- No formal banks or financial institutions in poor rural villages
- Active Rebel groups limiting good development.
Farmers acquire sustainable agriculture skills by receiving training in conservation agriculture – a series of soil management practices that minimize soil disruption. The techniques include:
- Mulching – leguminous seed such as cowpea, Jack bean and pigeon pea act as a cover crop (green manure), which helps to improve the quality of the soil and keep moisture in.
- No-till cultivation – farmers are trained using “planting stations” or in “ripping planting”, creating furrows with oxen or a 2-wheeled tractor, which enables them to practice conservation agriculture with their 1-5 acre farms
- Pit grain storage – farmers are trained and provided with a plastic liner to store grain on the floor of their homes. This reduces the incidence of pest and disease and enables them to sell grain at double or triple the price in the off-season
- Smart crop rotation – keeps more land in production and preserves the land capacity
Economic Development – Village Savings & Loans Groups
Through savings groups, farmers and their spouses gain access to loans. Weekly inputs from group members forms a loan pool, which they can then borrow from. After 12 months, total funds are shared out. Member satisfaction is high, with less than a 1% dropout rate. 71% are women.
- Members become microentrepreneurs, building small businesses and participating in the marketplace.
- Very small loans allow members to pay for healthcare and their children’s school fees
- Members can afford to give offerings to their local church, lifting the church out of poverty
- Dependency has been reduced, as women now bring in an income, changing household gender dynamics.
How we work with the Local Church:
Tearfund works with national church relief and development arms and local churches. They are part of the largest social service network in the world! We recognize that sustainable solutions to poverty require whole-life transformations – physical, economic, emotional and spiritual.
Tearfund Canada works with the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanzania to introduce conservation agriculture techniques in villages, starting with demonstration farms and small backyard plots. With the new conservation agriculture techniques, Dodoma has seen 7 times the crop yields per acre compared to traditional farming in the last year, thanks to on-farm water harvesting, moisture conservation, soil conservation, soil fertility improvement, and soil cover.
Work done in the last year:
- 1,973 farmers (1,119 women and 854 men) have been mobilized and trained in conservation agriculture techniques. All of these farmers have been trained practically and theoretically on CA principles, benefits and up-scaling.
- 109 savings groups have been mobilized, with 2,360 members (1675 females, 685 males).
- Women comprise 71% of members. Their participation in community activities has increased, most have become micro-entrepreneurs, they are better able to take care of their children, and their dependency has been reduced.
Thanks to the local church and its Village Savings and Loans group, Yohana and his wife Paulina no longer fear for their future after struggling with years of unproductive and unprofitable harvests. While Yohana was reluctant, Paulina jumped at the opportunity to invest and save. Taking out a loan, she was able to pay for her children’s school fees, as well as invest in her farm during the planting season.
Her notable eagerness and determination landed her a position as a village agent and provided the motivation Yohana needed to join her. Planning for his family’s future, he dreamt of buying cassava seeds, a cash crop, to sell in the market. As a new member, he was thrilled to take out a loan to purchase the seeds, as well as pay for his son as he joined secondary school.
Yohanna’s farm has doubled its yield since he and his wife started to implement improved farming techniques learned through this project sponsored by his church.