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Horticulture transforms rural economy in Singida, Shinyanga

Horticulture transforms rural economy in Singida, Shinyanga

SINGIDA and Shinyanga rural women are slowly but surely shifting from conventional subsistence farming to commercial and diversified production of horticulture to fight poverty.

Over the past two years, courtesy of the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) and a UN Women pilot project, nearly 500 rural women and girls have organised themselves in groups to cultivate horticulture crops.

Now, they are proudly smiling all the way to the bank, as they are making millions of shillings, thanks to their willingness to embrace horticulture as a profitable venture at the service of sustainable development.

Official statistics from TAHA show that a total of 26.5 acres of land have been set to grow passion fruits, tomato, and watermelon, onion, mango, cucumber, and cabbage.

TAHA CEO, Dr Jacqueline Mkindi said 64.7 metric tonnes of tomato, 20.2 metric tonnes of onion, and 3.7 metric tonnes of passion have so far been harvested, earning the committed women and girls 34.1m/-.

The hard earned income has been used in expanding their farms, send children to the best schools build or repair modern houses, Dr Mkindi explained, stressing that if you empower a woman, you equally empower the society.

“My greatest triumph is that these women ensure their families are fed, clothed, sheltered, and are able to get the right education. They reinvested 90 per cent of their income into their families, ensuring development of the whole family,” she noted.

Ms Aziza Nyuha from Munyu women group in Ikungi, Singida says they have started working on a commercially inclined production planning based on market demand, which is driving to gainful employment.

 “We are now growing high value crops that attract international market demand such as chill pepper, tomato, onion, watermelon, passion and cucumber as opposed to the traditional crops that were mainly for subsistence Nyuha said.

 Evidence from TAHA indicates “horticulture gives a higher return per investment meaning that the vegetable gardens bring more money in the pockets of the beneficiaries.”

 In addition, these gardens’ produce help enlarge the availability of and access to healthy and diverse food at local level, which contributes to improving food and nutrition security across rural communities.

 These gardens offer a valuable space for mutual learning and information sharing. Unlike individual gardens, community ones offer farmers the ideal space to exchange ideas and teach farming good practices one another.

 Their members are mostly women who, by working together, build trust and solidarity to better face their common social issues.

 Lumolumo women group chairperson Ms Angelina Jackson Lutego says that her cluster in Msalala District, Shinyanga Region with just a little over two acres used for growing tomato, watermelon and passion fruits, they have been able to make more than 10m/-  in the last two seasons.

 “The project has contributed largely to improving our socio- economic status. We are now earning millions of shillings from zero income enabling us to provide basic needs for our families, including taking our children to schools to secure their future,” said Ms Lutego.

 The project, executed by TAHA in collaboration with UN Women, Ikungi and Msalala district councils has seen tremendous productivity and income upsurge for women and girls, thanks to extensive adoption of climate-smart agricultural technologies, best practices, finance and market access.

 The group has also been able to replicate the model to 14 other women groups and 30 individuals within the Shinyanga Region who are now engaging in horticulture cultivation, a huge multiplier effect bringing in a critical mass of small-scale farmers.

 In the first year (2020-2021) a total of 16 women producer groups with more than 200 women and adolescent girls from both regions were reached and they received trainings on good agricultural practices, nutrition, entrepreneurship and marketing.

TAHA Executive Associate to the CEO, Mr Simon Mlay says that this initiative is enhancing the socio-economic status of rural communities through horticultural value chains. Women are regaining their dignity, self-worth and are becoming more appreciated in their families.

 As of 2022, the project started bearing fruits, as progress has been spotted among the producer groups whereby women have become more economically empowered, self-aware of their potential and in decision making and becoming catalysts of change to other women in their surrounding communities.

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Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter in   Singida

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