By Edgar Sabutoke, Ntakandi Farm Limited, Tanzania, IUPAC Next Generation Agri-Summit participant
There are a lot of challenges that small holder farmers are facing in Tanzania. These include a lack of agronomic practices, use of unskilled labour, increased post-harvest losses, inefficient use of agricultural inputs, limited access to markets, among others. Due to these challenges, AGRICULTURE was undervalued and was portrayed as an activity of the poor and perceived as a burden to society as many resources were invested to it and still less were gained.
Ntakandi Farm decided to come up with a slogan which can bring back hope to many farmers, especially youth. The slogan is now well known, ‘Agriculture is a Joy’.
In implementing our slogan, through solving the challenges of small holder farmers, Ntakandi Farm came up with an educational programme for small holder farmers. 20 small holders initially chosen that were from vulnerable families – those with a single parent, had more than five children, or those with chronic diseases. They were trained in all value chain operations of horticultural production, agronomic practices, farm management and agribusiness skills through green houses and open fields.
The initial group of farmers were trained for four months. The small holder farmers that were trained were able to transfer the skills they had acquired from Ntakandi Farm to other farmers in the region.
I’m from Ntakandi Farm and participated in the IUPAC 2019 Next Gen Agri-Summit in Ghent, Belgium, and learned different skills, including networking, personal branding, crop protection and modern farming from the conference as well as from excursion. The skills which I have gained from IUPAC 2019 Next Gen shall increase efficiency in the process of training future small holder farmers.
Through the work of Ntakandi Farm, the perception that AGRICULTURE is the work of the poor has been reversed. People are not as hesitant to engage in AGRICULTURE because they are well informed of its potential. With this farmers are joyfully and willingly engaging themselves in agricultural activities and even prefer AGRICULTURE over other work because it conveys positive results.
Despite the awareness that farmers are getting, there are still a lot of people out there who are in need of more information. We have not managed to reach a lot of people because the numbers of small holder farmers to be trained in agriculture is still limited. We need more stakeholders to support the move commenced by Ntakandi Farm towards green revolution and eliminate negative perceptions on the sector through this programme. Our goal is to reach one hundred thousand people per year.
Ntakandi Farm started in 2015, having worked now for 4.5 years in the agricultural sector. Ntakandi farm chose the slogan ‘Agriculture is a Joy’ after researching and finding out that people had the wrong perspective of agriculture. This negative perception was due to unresolved difficulties that farmers were facing, especially small holder farmers.
Edgar Thomas Sabutoke, is a Tanzanian horticultural farmer aged 30 years, a graduate in Bachelor of Law at Ruaha Catholic University in Iringa Region 2014. Edgar also graduated Certificate in Crop production and Management (2018) from Kihinga Folk Development College. His farming activities are currently implemented in Coastal region-Tanzania in Mkuranga district, Vikundi ward in Kisemvule village, 27KMS From Dar es Salaam city where all the farming activities are being implemented.