Tanzanian farmers have a love for enhanced crop production
Upendo Farmer Field School in Haruzale Village, Tanzania was started in 2010 and has a total of 32 members; 15 men and 17 women. Upendo, which means ‘love’ is a fitting name for the Farmer Field School as the members all seem to have a love for their work as well as the benefits that are being received as a result.
Upendo Farmer Field School is growing maize, inter-cropped with lentils, green gram (a type of bean) and will also start growing groundnuts in the future because they are very marketable. The crops are being grown for household use and the surplus is sold on the market. For example, maize which is their main crop is produced at a rate of 15 to 20 bags – 10 of these bags are used at home and five bags are sold on the market.
Upendo was inspired to start growing groundnuts for both home consumption and the market after a nutrition training session they received. They learned that groundnuts could be fried or ground and mixed with vegetables and flour to make a protein-rich porridge.
From September to April, the short rain season, Upendo Farmer Field School members are focused on growing cassava, a drought-resistant crop. Through training in crop spacing, the effective use of proper seeds as well as manure, they have been able to increase production of cassava from five to six bags per acre to 15 to 20 bags per acre!
The money that is generated from the Farmer Field School is partially used, by the members, to support their household's needs and pay school fees. Any surplus that is generated is deposited into a collective fund in the Bunda bank and is designated to be reinvested into future projects. Some of the proposed future projects include buying a milling machine, and expanding the Farmer Field School plot from one acre to five acres!
Maskha Debora, an Upendo Farmer Field School member, notes the benefits that members receive. “The Farmer Field School has had many benefits for us. One of those benefits is the support that we receive as a result of being close to each other and always reaching out to support one another.”