Help Support So They Can’s Farming Program
In Tanzania, approximately 67% of the population are engaged in the agriculture sector for their livelihood. In the Manyara region, despite it being among the seven main food crop producing regions in Tanzania (maize and beans), malnutrition still impacts 36% of the population. The majority of crops produce a single annual harvest, and the pre-harvest period is strongly associated with increased food insecurity. Rural schools have up to 10 acres of farmland, yet less than 1/3 of the land is currently put into production, and most Tanzanian students do not receive a meal at school. For students to be able to concentrate in school and focus on their learning, they need adequate nutrition.
How So They Can’s project addresses this problem:
The Shamba Letu project has three key focus areas:
- School Farming;
- Demonstration Farm (used by school students, teachers and community members); and
- Community Farming.
To support the project, So They Can installed the following infrastructure at the Demonstration Farm:
- A 108m deep borehole;
- A generator house and grid connection;
- A 120m2 greenhouse;
- Agricultural facilities;
- Four volunteer houses;
- Drip irrigation lines covering one quarter of an acre; and
- A tractor with a 3-disc plough.
The purpose of the Shamba Letu Demonstration Farm is to be a training centre providing education on modern farming skills and methodologies to the students and teachers from the Education Program schools, to the students’ parents, and to the wider community. This will contribute towards food security, improve food quality, and create opportunities for income generation. These in turn, will improve access to education, via parents’ abilities to pay school costs, and the students’ academic performance (improved levels of concentration and general health).
The specific goals of the Shamba Letu project are to:
- Equip the community with the knowledge and skills of modern farming techniques so that they can improve the quality and quantity of their produce. This leads to the provision of nutritious food to their children and increases their income so that they can afford school resources for their children. Training at the Demonstration Farm covers:
- The use of improved farm inputs, including the selection of improved seed variety;
- The use of fertilizer and its economic impact;
- Increasing productivity of horticultural crops;
- How to establish vegetable gardens with simple and cheap irrigation systems;
- Train students and teachers from Program schools on the skills needed to establish vegetable gardens and fruit orchards in their school farms to supplement their school feeding program; and
- Provide technical support to Program Schools to help them utilise their land effectively and create extra income which can be used to improve their learning environment.
At the Demonstration Farm we train members of the community to become Champion Farmers. These Champion Farmers recruit 10 members of the community each to work with and pass their new knowledge and skills onto. They are assisted by team members from So They Can and Ward Agricultural Extension Officers. Each group then establishes their own demo plot.