Tanzania’s youth brace for
booming vegetable farming
ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) --
Stella Ezekiel, 23, is one of young women,
who are doing vegetable farming in Maweni village located in the
foothills of Mount Meru—Tanzania’s second tallest mountain after
the Africa’s highest roof of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Despite of the challenges she had been experiencing, Ezekiel
who is a mother of three, never regret on her decision of being
a vegetable grower in the volcanic-rich soil area.
In her two acre farm, Ezekiel and his husband started doing
the farming project five years ago.
But, changes were not realized as they were expected.
The main challenge, Ezekiel cites lack of technical-know-how
particularly on doing agribusiness farming as well as lack of
reliable market for vegetable produces.
She says "in those years, we used to grow different types
of vegetables without having proper farming skills," adding
that "we ended-up with poor harvests that never bring in
good money to meet our daily needs."
Other vegetables grown in the area include spinach,
amaranthus, chinese, African eggplant, tomatoes and among
He thanks the Eastern and Southern Africa’s peri-urban
horticulture initiative (VINESA) -- a project that fosters
entrepreneurship among young farmers in the area.
The four-year project came after realizing that most
smallholder farmers in Africa and Tanzania in particular produce
vegetables during the rains when every other farmer does the
The result is an oversupply of vegetables in the wet season
and scarcity in the dry season, leading to low income for
farmers and high prices for consumers.
To encourage farmers to change their mindset and behavior,
the Australian Centre for International Agricultural
Research-funded project "Improving income and nutrition in
Eastern and Southern Africa by enhancing vegetable-based
farming and food systems in peri-urban corridors".
The four-year VINESA project organized a series of
training courses for young farmers in Tanzania, whereby
HORTI-Tengeru and the World Vegetable Center-Eastern and
Southern Africa (AVRDC-ESA) equip farmers with knowledge and
skills on value chain thinking.
Stella is one of the first batch of twenty female and male
farmers age 18 – 35 from Maweni Village in Arumeru district who
have benefited from the project, which are currently implemented
in four African countries of Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and
The project, which is enchored on reducing malnutrition and
poverty, increasing employment, started in June 24, 2013 and is
to end by July 31, 2017.
Andrew Pallangyo is another beneficiary of the project,
"Before the training I used to sell my vegetable in the
market, where I used to get little profit compared to the
new system of the market we have been linked with."
He says the move has changed the entire perception of
farming "as we have been linked with buyers and even seed
breeders, in the past I used to grow vegetables for food
only, but now we are growing for producing seeds, where we
enter into contracts with seed companies and we get good
money compared to what we used to do in those days."
Neema Kaaya, a vegetable seller in Usa River area
"It is wrong for farmers to assume they will get similar
prices for their produce as those being offered by traders
for premium produce."
She expresses interest in buying vegetables from the
trainees once they graduate from the Best Practice
Hub—provided their vegetables that meet required standards
for type, quality and quantity.
Trained vegetable growers have started securing contracts of
supplying vegetables to nearby boarding and day schools, hotels
and other institutions.
Agatha Aloyce VINESA’s Tanzania Country Coordinator, explains
the need to produce vegetables for a given market opportunity.
According to her, value chain thinking places the needs of
consumers and customers first, and aims to build lasting
relationships among chain actors to meet those needs.
Radegunda Kessy, vegetable research associate suggests
the urgent need for chain actors to understand the needs of
consumers and customers.
"They must learn which actions cause waste and which add
value to appropriately allocate available resources."
She encourages vegetable growers to produce what they can
sell rather selling what they have produced—a strategy that
shifts emphasis from trying to push vegetables produced through
the chain to pulling these vegetables from the demand of
consumers at the end of the chain.
Florence Ghamunga, VINESA’s Gender Expert, says maximum
returns to households often depend on gender relations in value
She emphasizes the need to address gender diversity to
strengthen equity among individuals, families, households, and
societies. More equitable access to resources (land, money,
transport); greater roles in decision making; a fairer division
of labor; and more sustainable partnerships make stronger chains
that support more stakeholders.
Dr. Thomas Dubois, Director of AVRDC- ESA said:
"What we real aim to do is to get more money in the
pockets of smallholder farmers, particularly on small plots
located in areas around cities."
The official describes the role of VINESA in improving
community nutrition in Tanzania by encouraging vegetable
consumption as the most affordable source of protein, vitamins
The project is focusing on developing improved traditional
and global vegetable varieties, strengthening local seed supply
systems introducing sound crop management practices and
establishing effective value chains.
Nyerembe Munasa, district commissioner for Arumeru urges
to wake-up and hurriedly embark into vegetable farming—an
activity, which has proved to be ideal for creating, jobs to
the important segment in the society.
"We’re living in a very competitive world, whereby
employment opportunities are very limited.
"But, for Tanzania, this is a different story as we’re
endowed with a wide-range of natural resources and among
them is fertile land, where we can grow a number of crops.
So, it is time for the youth to chip-in and embark into
farming, particularly vegetable farming," he says.
He says it’s time for youth to shift their thinking from
white- collar jobs and actively get into vegetable farming,
which is a quick wing projects as a farmer waits few days before
start getting the returns.
It is estimated that more than 6,000 smallholder farmers in
those countries will have access to and adopt improved practices
and technologies for more, safer and nutritious vegetable for
sale and household consumption by 2017.
Zambia has highest
undernourishment rate in Africa: FAO report
LUSAKA (Xinhua) --
A new report released by the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) obtained by Xinhua on Thursday has shown that
Zambia has the highest prevalence rate of undernourishment in
The latest State of Food and World Insecurity Report Zambia
has the highest number of citizens undernourished on the
continent with 48.3 per cent of its population being
undernourished and is followed by Namibia with 37.2 per cent.
In the world, Zambia was ranked the second worst country
after Haiti which has 51.8 per cent of its population
"In sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four people
remain chronically undernourished, while Asia, the world’s
most populous region, is also home to the majority of the
hungry – 526 million," the report said.
"Very slow progress was recorded in several African
countries, including Botswana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar,
Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, where the
number as well as prevalence of undernourished people in the
population increased," the report added.
While acknowledging that global hunger has continued to
reduce with about 805 million people estimated to be chronically
undernourished in 2012-14, down more than 100 million over the
last decade, the report said sustained political commitment at
the highest level was a prerequisite for hunger and nutrition
"It entails placing food security and nutrition at the
top of the political agenda and creating an enabling
environment for improving food security and nutrition
through adequate investments, better policies, legal
frameworks, stakeholder participation and a strong evidence
Institutional reforms are also needed to promote and
sustain progress," the report added.
William Chilufya, coordinator of the Zambia Civil Society
Scaling up Nutrition Alliance said it was unfortunate that the
country was ranked as one of the worst in terms of nutrition in
the world considering the development potential that it
"This is a wakeup call to Zambia and it shows that we are
not doing enough to address issues to do with nutrition in
"This is shocking considering our development potential
as a country.
"When one examines the report, you realize that the
statistics referred to were drawn from the 2007 Zambia
Demographic Health Survey," he said.
According to him, the country needed to put issues of
nutrition on top of its development agenda in order to address
the problem of under nutrition.
UN, IGAD appeal for
humanitarian aid for drought-hit Horn of Africa
by Njoroge Kaburo NAIROBI (Xinhua)
-- The UN and East Africa’s regional
bloc on Monday appealed to the international community to move
swiftly and avert a looming humanitarian disaster in the Horn of
In a joint statement issued in Nairobi, UN Assistant
Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-Wha Kang, and
Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (IGAD), appealed for immediate funds to
help 14 million people who are food insecure in the region.
"Displacement in Horn of Africa stand at an estimated 6.8
million people and 14 million people are food insecure, yet
funding has remained at half of the appeal," Kang said.
The number of hungry people in the Horn of Africa has
risen as drought, rising food and fuel prices and conflict
take their toll.
The drought began with the failure of the short rains last
year in eastern parts of the Horn of Africa, pushing millions of
people into hunger.
According to UN and IGAD, the food shortage in Somalia
and South Sudan,as a result of drought and violence and
conflict, has had serious consequences for food and
nutrition situation for large sections of the population.
"This coupled with an on-going conflict in both
countries, lower than usual rains in Somalia, poor
vegetation cover and poor animal health, and hiking of
prices and limited access by humanitarian agencies, is
pushing these countries to closer to an impending worrisome
food security and malnutrition situation," it said.
The move comes after UN agencies called for more donor
support to help scale up humanitarian assistance in Somalia.
A latest food security report released early September says
more than 1 million people in Somalia face acute food
insecurity, and 218,000 children under the age of 5 are acutely
malnourished, as food crisis worsens in the Horn of Africa
The joint assessment by the Food Security and Nutrition
Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), a project managed by UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Famine
Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and other partners
warned that the situation is likely to deteriorate further
The statement said out of the 933 million U.S. dollar
appeal, less than one third has been raised. Both IGAD and
the UN are urging the donor community and governments of the
region to urgently scale up response to avert a humanitarian
"Despite early warning indicators, there appears to be
inadequate to potential impact of these on lives and
livelihoods, and this could impact negatively on the fragile
peace in Somalia and South Sudan," the statement said.
IGAD fact-finding mission reports indicate that 7 million out
of 12.9 million people in South Sudan are food insecure, 3.9
million are severely food insecure, with 1.2 million already at
the risk of famine (if violence continues), and 50,000 children
at a risk of dying from starvation.