OUR PHILOSOPHY CONT...
COMMERCIAL CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE
Tiamoyo has worked with Community Leaders in Tanzania for over 15 years. It has created a large Leadership Training network operating in 40 villages and towns throughout the North of Tanzania. It has built credibility with local leaders and is ideally placed to facilitate further Community Development and the promotion of Commercial Agricultural Projects throughout the region. At the request of community leaders from many village areas we have developed a training program to train local farmers in Leadership and Management, Conservation Agriculture and the establishment of Commercial Farming Systems.
1. Leadership and Management. This is the “missing ingredient” in most aid projects. It is our conviction that unless the community leaders are engaged and empowered and have ownership of all that happens, then any project will fail. Conversely, through Tiamoyo we have observed that when community leaders are inspired to change whatever hinders their advancement, they grab with both hands every opportunity that comes their way.
We have identified the need for character development; the importance of work ethic, honesty and integrity. We also see a great need for expanding their worldview, power of vision and goal setting etc. This equips and empowers them to dream of a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. Tiamoyo has built long term mentoring relationships with community leaders that provides them ongoing support, accountability and encouragement as they pursue their goals. In partnership, our training program is offered without charge to everyone - irrespective of their race, gender, age or religion.
2. Work ethic starts with three basic disciplines: Do it on time. Do it to a good standard. Do it without waste. To some these principles may seem inconsequential, but these are the very reason most agricultural projects fail. Our local staff will endeavour to walk alongside the local farmers in a respectful mentoring role, encouraging them to stick with the program throughout the season. This has been found to be a key for success
3. Business Development and Marketing. We will provide ongoing assistance and advice to see a profitable, sustainable industry is developed. We have good relationships with experts in the field in Tanzania who can assist with Marketing and Logistics. Each region is different, and will need help in choosing the best crop to grow and finding a market for their produce.
Agriculture Minimum Tillage and Maximum Mulch. In other words no ploughing and no burning. This represents a huge shift as these are entrenched practices in sub-Saharan Africa, but once local farmers see the results, they are keen to learn and adopt these new ideas.
Ploughing destroys the soil structure and the layers of bacterial life that enrich the soil. It also exposes the soil to erosion by wind and water. Ploughing and leaving the soil bare also promotes evaporation, exacerbating drought effects. Minimum Tillage has been widely adopted globally and is now proving invaluable in Africa.
Mulching provides a blanket over the soil that keep it moist and cool as well as encouraging the breakdown of organic matter to feed the plants. The moisture retention enabled by mulch has proven to help mitigate the effects of drought and climate change. In areas where there has been drought and little yield with conventional farming methods, using these simple principles, farmers have obtained a viable yield of grain.
The principles are similar to systems referred to as Permaculture or Conservation Agriculture. Whereas popular methods of ploughing and burning fosters erosion and the systematic destruction of soil structure, Foundations for Farming methods build healthier soils, year upon year. Scientists have identified many delicate biological systems that enhance the soil and increase productivity. There is complex symbiosis between micro-fungi and bacteria colonies, that given the right conditions flourish and release previously unavailable nutrients to the plants. This reduces the need for artificial fertilizer and increase yield over time. So instead of depleting the soil, it gradually improves and so do the yields. The role of fertilizer is now seen as enhancing the soil and providing necessary minerals to sustain the soil in the long term, rather than just as inputs to produce a crop.
Economic Development: If small farmers can see a large increase in their income it will lift them out of poverty. It gives them an income and spread across the whole community it has an amazing effect. It needs to be acknowledged that this represents just the first step in building a prosperous Agricultural Industry. However once farming practices are improved and efficiencies are raised, then new crops and markets can be identified that will further progress economic development.
Social Cohesion: It should not have to be that young people leave the villages to pursue a better life. If a more efficient agriculture brings money into the community there will be more local jobs and a brighter future for young people.
Education: The local communities will be better able to fund the education of the their children and not be dependent on aid.
Conservation: Better water and soil retention will ensure the conservation of agricultural resources.
Food Security: A major issue in Tanzania. As farming practice improves and economic development comes to villages, they will be able to develop the infrastructure for grain handling and storage. This will not only facilitate more efficiency in the trading grain but will provide food security.
Drought and Climate Change Mitigation: With the spectre of Climate Change looming, this program has the potential to lessen the impact on poor farming communities. In particular the practice of maintaining a blanket of rich mulch on the soil, keeps in every drop of moisture, while maximizing the yield and the sustainability of the agricultural land in dry conditions..