Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT)
2011 – now
In a nutshell
Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) addresses social and environmental problems caused by environmentally-destructive and unsustainable farming practices. These problems lead to food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition resulting from environmental degradation through loss of top soil, water supplies and forests. SAT’s vision is to make sure the majority of farmers are using acknowledged agroecological methods to improve their livelihoods, conserve the environment and reduce pressure on natural resources. SAT creates linkages between farmers, educators, researchers and government, to generate and inspire locally relevant knowledge in agroecology. This community, with its experiences, is the core-network that builds the foundation of SAT’s Innovation Platform. Through using an approach which acknowledges the experience and knowledge of farmers, SAT does not only give inputs but receives as well information. This gained agroecological knowledge is incubated and refined
Tanzania is almost 100% self-sufficient in food production. Nevertheless, there are manifold challenges that farmers are facing nowadays in this country. For instance, changing climate, fragmented land, reduced soil fertility, increased erosion and lack of capital are common. In Tanzania, government measures to increase the adoption of agroecological methods have been marginal until nowadays. So far, major initiatives have come mainly from foreign companies, like for instance the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) initiative, which aims to further develop the Tanzanian agricultural sector through agribusiness investments in the country’s southern corridor. The focus of agribusinesses mainly lies on increasing yield without focusing on other key factors which are environmental, social and cultural.
SAT applies researches, disseminates and promotes agroecological farming methods. The organization philosophy is that through agroecological practices farmers are capable to increase production and income in a sustainable way. SAT works closely with farmers, taking into account their experiences and local knowledge, which drives the initiation of projects, programs and research. SAT not only facilitates on agroecological methods but provides as well basic life skills, entrepreneurial knowledge, and introduces farmers to a saving and lending culture.
SAT uses impact-proven strategies that are based on four holistic pillars:
- Dissemination of Knowledge: SAT facilitates agroecological farming practices using an effective hands-on approach where farmer groups practice organic agriculture in demonstration plots. SAT offers short-courses about agroecological practices at SAT Farmers Training Centre, having trainees from all over East Africa. Additionally, SAT disseminates knowledge through the monthly farming magazine “Mkulima Mbunifu”.
- Application and Marketing: SAT is engaged in the whole value chain of agroecological food production and is supporting farmers efficiently through demonstrating that agroecology is capable of transforming livelihoods in a positive way. SAT helps farmers with organic certification for product marketing, and networks farmers with a national certification organisation, linking successful farms to organic markets.
- Research: SAT collaborates with farmers and universities to create demand-driven research to improve and research agroecological farming methods. SAT provides the national and international research community access to agroecological farmers and conducts research on the demonstration farm to gain scientific evidence of the potential of agroecological farming methods.
- Networking: All gained experiences of the farmers and other stakeholders are shared during national and international workshops and conferences. SAT shares the experience from the grassroots level, demonstrating success stories and existing challenges from the farming community in Tanzania.
Step by step, SAT widened its field of interventions in order to meet the needs of participants and embrace the holistic notion of agroecology. Most challenging are stable market linkages because of consistent quantities, seasonality and transport. The adoption of agroecological practices needs to yield (financial) benefits to the participants in order to be kept by and replicated by new groups. Once the first farmer groups experience benefits of agroecological farming, they are very good messengers to invite and train neighboring villages.
Relevant Links & references