Robert Feza (56) is a vegetable farmer from Kigungumuli village, Kahama District. He grows tomato and sweet pepper.
Poor seed selection, proper uses of pesticides and fertilization were the major challenges he faced.
In the first season of 2018, Robert attended a SEVIA training event for farmers in his area. “The training was very good for me. I learned a lot of things which I did not know before,” Robert said. Later in the same season, Robert hosted a sweet pepper demo with Redjet F1 variety. The demo was successful. “I was happy to be the part of the change. I feel certain to say that, I am now an expert in this field.”
Robert applied the knowledge and also learned about production of other crops. He subsequently cultivated tomato (Imara F1) in his half an acre plot. Robert has increased his production of tomato from 1 ton to 4 tons per season. “This is an extraordinary result for me. I never thought of harvesting such level of yield,” he said.
Robert made a profit of 1 million shillings. With his homemade bricks already in place, he bought cement and paid builder (with the profit) to start constructing a house for him. “At my age, this is a great achievement. My family is very proud of me.”
Robert is training other farmers on behalf of a SEVIA extension officer. He also appreciates the SEVIA efforts for changing their live through knowledge transfer.
Alfred John Masanja (45) is a vegetable farmer from Nyandekwa Village in Kahama District. He has been engaged in farming activities since 2000. He currently grows tomato and watermelon of hybrid varieties.
For some years and seasons, Alfred faced challenges like pest and diseases, shortage of water for irrigation, improper use of fertilizer and access to the market of his farm produce. “It has been difficult for me to penetrate the market because of my low-quality produce”, he commented.
On September 2018, Alfred knew SEVIA through training for his neighbour on proper seed selection, nursery management and spraying techniques which was facilitated by Benjamin Masurura (SEVIA extension based in Kahama District). “I wish I could have this knowledge before. Poor farming practices are now a thing of the past for me now,” he said to Benjamin.
To cope with the changes, Alfred adopted the use of improved varieties, better pest and disease control and other crop management techniques and then dug a borehole to ensure consistent supply of water for his crops. Now he is able to cultivate in all seasons. Out of tomato and watermelon, Alfred increased seasonal profit from his half-acre plot from 600,000 Tshs to 2,000,000 Tshs. “SEVIA is a catalyst for a good farmer’s life. I can now fulfill my family needs and expand my investments”, he said.
Alfred is now training other farmers on behalf of SEVIA extension officer. “Despite the fact that I introduced new knowledge to my fellow farmers, I also learn further from their success”, he happily said.
Misana Taratibu (63) has been a vegetable farmer since 1983. Misana lives in Ngogwa village in Kahama District and relies of farming as his major activity. He grows tomato, sweet pepper and African eggplant.
Poor pest and disease control, low quality of produce and poor access to the market were the most common challenges faced by Misana over the years.
In September 2018, Misana attended SEVIA training organized by Benjamin Masurura (SEVIA extension officer based in Kahama). Major topics presented on the training were seed selection, fertilization and crop protection.
As from October 2018, Misana hosted a sweet pepper demo, which was successful. “This was a good start to put knowledge into practice. I now believed I could overcome all challenges I faced in the past”, Misana commented.
In February 2019, Misana cultivated tomato and sweet pepper in about half an acre plot. “By adopting SEVIA farming techniques, I doubled my profit by getting 1,700,000 Tshs”, the farmer said. Misana used his additional profit to buy more cattle (20 goats and 2 cows). “This is the big investment I have never done at once. I see myself somewhere far in near future”, he said.
Misana is also helping other farmers by giving an appropriate advice and support on dealing with their crops. He is looking forward to establish a vegetable training center for farmers. “I am inspired by my own transformation. I would like to see the same changes in other farmers as well”, he said.
Sweet pepper – pruning and fruit setting.
Watch it here
Cucumber crop management. Watch it here
Sweet pepper stem systems.
Watch it here
Shabani Mussa (52) is a man who believes in implementing what he learns and over the years he has succeeded in becoming a better farmer through this. Shabani started vegetable production of tomato, sweet pepper and okra in Babati in 1995. Then he was growing open pollinated varieties and using techniques he had learned from his family and neighbours. In October 2016 Shabani met a young extension officer (Ladislaus Mkufya) from SEVIA and his life changed forever.
Ladislaus and Shabani established a tomato demo on the latter’s farmer and used it as a learning area for the farmer and his neighbours. The demo highlighted trellising of tomato, use of hybrids and good crop management.
“Right now I have 3 acres of Imara F1 and Eden F1, fully trellised”, he says, referring to two hybrids from East-West Seed and Seminis respectively. “I bought them here in Babati. I like their yield. Imara F1 has large fruit size. It also needs more water though.”
On his newly found enthusiasm in trellising and drip irrigation, he smiles: “Trellising makes my crop management easier, like drip that makes my life easier.”
Which challenges does he face? Shabani sighs that prices are always a challenge: “Prices are fluctuating. Sometimes they are high, now they are low. Whiteflies are also a big problem as you can see, but I have been spraying Actara.”
Shabani’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. He expects to take vegetable production to the next level in the near future following being awarded with a greenhouse.
Shabani: “Another project recently donated a greenhouse to me. In the next two months I will buy seed of coloured sweet pepper and start production, other farmers will also come to learn about greenhouse production on my farm.”
Given what he has already done, we are convinced Shabani will succeed.
Salimu Tamimu (57) from Mrua Village in Kondoa District is a man on a mission. Readers willremember Salimu from Mkulima wa SEVIA no. 6 (2017) in which he gave testimony of the performance of a cabbage hybrid (Mapema F1) in a demo on his farm. Then he was still growing 3 acres of open pollinated cabbage. A lot has changed since that time.
Salimu is now growing 3 acres of hybrid cabbage. This season he chose Imani F1. Why does he grow so much cabbage? Salimu: “I like cabbage because there’s a market for it. I picked this variety because the seed is available in Kondoa Town. From what I saw in the demo last year, hybrids are not affected much by diseases. Even now, look at this crop, it is clean.”
Does he use fertilizer? Salimu: “Most of the time I use manure on my farm. I do not have much manure myself, so I buy from my neighbours. Growing vegetables is my livelihood. With good manure I can do a lot.”
Asked about irrigation, he answers: “In the past year I have dug a third borehole to make sure that I have enough water. My pump is still working well and I can irrigate the entire field.”
He is optimistic about the future: “I will add hybrids in other crops, starting with tomato. As you can see I have seedlings of hybrid tomato brought by our new extension officer, Salimu Amiri, for a demo. I want to learn from the demo.”
As a model farmer in his community, SEVIA wishes Salimu Tamimu more success in the future.
“I use organic pesticides because they are cheap”, says Jecha Katanzi (29) from Iringa Municipal. Since 2012 he has been growing sweet pepper and tomato, following the example of his sister who is also involved in vegetable production.
In December 2017 Jecha attended a SEVIA youth training conducted by Wilfred Makange (SEVIA extension officer) in the tomato demo of Brighty Mvili. The training covered seeds selection, nursery management, transplanting, the application of fertilizers and general crop protection.
Jecha also learned about organic pesticides through discussions with Wilfred. “I decided to start using organic pesticides; mainly because of the low costs compared to chemical pesticides. Other advantages are that the organic pesticides can chase away more than one species of insects and are not dangerous to humans. Moreover they can be made from plants that grow everywhere.”
Jecha has been using neem extract for controlling insects since January 2018. He sprayed every 5 days. He started harvesting his sweet pepper crop in April 2018.
“I used chemicals in the past but I am happy to see the positive impact of using organic pesticides”, he says. “My crop looks very healthy.”
Ayubu Juma Makasi (53) from Tanga (Lushoto) is a vegetable farmer of tomato, squash, broccoli, red cabbage and lettuce. He started farming in 1985 after quitting his welding job.
He heard about the SEVIA extension officer (Adam Lazaro) doing a good job for the first time in 2015. Although his expectations were not attained from the first tomato demo, he believed that the next season would bring good results, due to the support and guidance provided by Adam Lazaro. And it did: “The second tomato demo was successful, I was able to harvest 80% of the entire demo”, he said.
Ayubu Makasi includes proper application of fertilizer as well as pest and diseases control measures to the rest of his crops. Following the outcomes from SEVIA demos he switched to using hybrid seeds.
“The use of hybrid seeds has completely changed my market approach”, he said. Previously he was selling his produce in local markets in Lushoto, but since he started working with SEVIA and after some market research, he has been transporting his high quality vegetables to Dar es Salaam. “I am getting good market prices because I am not using middlemen to sell my produce. I am happy to be different from other farmers”, he stated. “With the income I am getting from a more lucrative market in Dar, I am buying inputs to provide other farmers as loans. I get repaid through a profit sharing and so I have extra income from farming, but indirectly. That makes me a happy farmer. ”
Salim Iddi (61) is a versatile farmer from Bombo village in Lushoto district, growing sweet pepper and tomato in the greenhouse while he conducts broccoli, tomato, lettuce, sweet pepper, butternut, beans, white radish, cabbage, carrot and zucchini production in the open field.
In 2015, he was introduced to SEVIA better farming practices through a demo plot of a farmer from another village. Then he decided to host a tomato demo himself, under the supervision of Adam Lazaro (former extension officer). “I was so astonished by the demo results which were totally different with my previous informal way of farming”, he said.
By attaching to SEVIA he learned the impact of hybrid seeds, proper fertilizer application and general crop management. He has been using the same techniques and technologies in other crops and obtained good results. “I am pleased to share what I have experienced with other farmers”, he said.
Salimu Iddi is a big fan of the SEVIA way: “Despite of the common challenges like changing and unpredictable weather, high pressure from bacteria wilt and white flies, since I adopted SEVIA farming practices I managed to generate enough income to send my children to good schools. I was able to buy a cow, which is another source of income as well.”
He is going to have his second SEVIA demo this season; sweet pepper in a greenhouse under the supervision of Joseph Masethya, who says that Mr Iddi’s farm and personality can inspire other Lushoto farmers to change their practices. “I am happy that I am learning more from SEVIA”, Salimu Iddi said. “Other farmers should too.”
Twahiru Buni Kaniki (42) is a farmer from Mbuzii-Soni village, Lushoto District, who had been exclusively growing maize and beans since 2000 until recently. He has now included growing tomato, sweet pepper, cabbage, onion, cucumber, eggplant and carrot.
Twahiru Kaniki was informed about SEVIA through his neighbour, Silas Abdallah Mdoe (69) who hosted a SEVIA tomato demo as from April 2017. “I was so impressed with demo results compared to what I observed in other farms around and that was my turning point. I thought I had to shift from cereal crop production only to including vegetables”, he said.
He hosted a tomato demo of his own, starting in October 2017. The demo performed well, given support from Joseph Masethya (SEVIA extension officer) and his mentor (Silas). He planted other vegetables. Through farmer-farmer knowledge transfer, Twahiru Kaniki continued to obtain good results from his vegetables. He managed to buy a cow from the sale of his produce and is planning to build his own house in future. “The right time to excel is taking the opportunity that is ahead of you. I am glad that I got one from SEVIA and my neighbour”, he proclaimed.
Asked about his future prospects, he smiled and said, “I am not really where I want to be but SEVIA showed me a bright way ahead and I am pleased to have a mentor who can assist me all the time”.
A staggering 109 people attended a special field day in Babati showcasing the importance of including potassium in tomato fertilization and presenting a new variety, Gahmar F1. The event, featuring one of SEVIA’s partner companies, Rijk Zwaan, was the 7th field day (out of 26 in the October 2017 – February 2018 cropping season) organized by SEVIA.
The field day was held in Ayasanda village at the plot of Rashid Malomba Barie, a 79 year old veteran farmer who shows that he can still compete with the best. The occasion was also graced by 5 government officers including the District Agriculture, Irrigation and Cooperative Officer (DAICO) Mrs. Jetrida Kyekaka. SEVIA’s Managing Director Elijah Mwashayenyi talked about the importance of seeking markets and combining quality seed with good farming technology. “Farmers should take the lead in finding markets”, emphasized Extension Manager Epaphras Milambwe. Matthew Ngoma (Rijk Zwaan) explained the merits of using quality seeds including Rijk Zwaan’s tomato varieties Gahmar F1 and Jarrah F1. In her address Mrs. Jetrida Kyekaka pleaded with Rijk Zwaan to open a branch in Babati so as to make their seeds more accessible. Village chairman Elias Bombo thanked SEVIA for choosing Babati as one of its working districts and pledged to put Babati on the map through vegetable production.
Two farmers, youth Erasto Elias who had been learning from Mr. Malomba’s demo and Abubakari Saidi from Kikore, gave moving testimonies of how collaboration with SEVIA was making a difference in their lives. Host farmer Mr. Malomba could not hide their happiness at what was transpiring: “I would like to thank SEVIA and extension officer Ladislaus Mkufya. He is a hardworking young man whom you can call at anytime. He has shown me that by using hybrid seeds with proper fertilizer, I can get a good yield in a small plot. To my fellow farmers I say, if I can produce like this at my age, you can all do the same.”
Christina Msalato and Abigael Mlonga are vendors in Msalato Village (just outside the city of Dodoma). Since farmers are now producing better quality products, selling has become easier.
Smallholder farmers like vendors Christina Msalato and Abigael Mlonga sell a lot, because they offer what farmers regard as a fair price for produce, even while the profit margins after selling are low. For example, if the ladies buy tomatoes at TZS 800 per kg, they resell at TZS 1000 per kg. This is in stark contrast to some other buyers who offer the farmers a lower price and put a big mark-up on the selling price.
The job of Christina and Abigael is made easier by farmers who use better quality varieties seeds advocated for by SEVIA. “We are for instance very happy with the quality of this tomato variety (Victory F1). It has a uniform shape, tastes good and the skin shows no bruises. Our customers like it too,” they told SEVIA extension officer Mseti Mwita recently. “It makes selling easier.” SEVIA advices farmers to choose improved varieties, because these are also more resilient to pests and diseases and are known to deliver a higher yield.
Selling of farm produce is a major challenge to many of vegetable farmers in Tanzania. A lot of farmers focus on accessing town and cities markets since they believe they can fetch higher prices. This fact is known to favour larger vegetable growers since they can sell their produce in bulk. Large growers have two advantages in selling their produce; they can sell wholesale to markets or directly to processing industries. Most small scale farmers are forced to keep on selling their produce to market speculators, middleman or directly to the market. By doing this, they sometimes get low profit due to high bargaining power of the traders or are confronted with costs for taking the produce to the market. By improving the quality of the produce or e.g. choosing varieties that have very specific characteristics, farmers might attract specific traders and gain more selling opportunities.
My name is Laurent Daslo (53). I live in Nangara (Babati) together with my wife Magdalena Mkeni and three children. Five years ago I started vegetable farming. Untill this spring I grew Chinese cabbage, sukumawiki, carrot and African nightshade. I always wanted to grow tomatoes, but in a more skillful way. One day I was triggered by the extension officer of SEVIA, Ladislaus Mkufya, who set up a demo field in the nearby street. We agreed to do the same at my place. He showed me to produce more yield on a small area. Since I have no water problems here, I like to continue growing other vegetables. My neighbours visit me and are very anxious to learn from my experiences. Watch it here
My name is Abubakari Saidi, from Babati. Since I finished school in 1997 I am a vegetable farmer. I fully rely on income out of my vegetable farming and of course – I have 7 children – I am always on the lookout to increase my profits. Quality seeds make a big difference: they produce more transplants and the plants are healthier. I learnt how to plan the farming which is also very important. Watch it here
I am Monica Humay. Originally I am from Arusha, but I moved to Babati. My husband and I have been farmers for over 30 years. I grow cereal crops like maize, but I discovered growing tomatoes can be very profitable in a short period of time. Because we live close to the road from Babati to Morogoro it is very easy to find a trader who buys our products. We switched from traditional farming to applying improved methods according to the SEVIA-way. I now pay attention to the right dosage of chemicals and fertilizers. SEVIA also taught us about spacing and the use of quality seeds. Watch it here
My name is Ladislaus Mkufya. I am SEVIA extension officer in Babati. I like to teach the farmers to improve their vegetable farming. When they are happy, e.g. when they actually see that their products are better than before, I am happy too. Watch it here
Harald Peeters, Managing Director Rijk Zwaan Tanzania: “SEVIA is a good synergy of private and public partners.” Watch it here
Having a greenhouse does not make you a good farmer, but knowing how to farm in a greenhouse does! Mr. Christopher Elias Mrecha is a regular farmer in Hai who built a greenhouse in the hope of increasing his income.
He said he was often misled on his failing crops. When SEVIA visited him for the first time, he was growing sukuma wiki in his greenhouse.
After his first consultation he was alerted by SEVIA that his plot had a serious case of bacteria wilt. And due to poor construction of the green house, the air circulation was ineffective which caused other diseases due to high humidity.
After just over one month of guidance and good farming practice his new crop (cucumber) was ready for harvest.
He was urged to seek market before harvesting and he successfully managed to secure a market with Nakumatt Moshi. Due to the good quality of his products he was asked to consider supplying a number of other vegetables.
One thing all farmers should have in mind is that they should always seek advice before and after setting up the greenhouse. It is the farming skills that make the difference!