In June 2006, the Government of Tanzania, together with the private sector, decided to place "Agriculture First" for national development.
The horticultural sub-sector has been recognized as an engine for Tanzania's social-economic growth and a significant contributor to rural poverty alleviation. The Tanzania Horticulture Development Strategy (THDS) 2012-2021 envisages facilitating the development of the horticultural industry so as to improve nutritional status, increase income and reduce poverty while increasing productivity and quality of produce. The THDS has identified challenges in value chain including three major challenges which are: a weak production base, an inadequate marketing system and weak industry linkages.
In Tanzania and more specifically the Singida Region, there is still vast untapped potential in the horticulture industry, which was confirmed with two studies (2011 and 2014) conducted by Helvetas.
Vegetable producers can enhance their production and address this potential. Post-harvest loss remains a major challenge accounting to 30%-80% loss. In addition, the studies, coupled with experience of the KUWAKI project, shows that production is not intensive, and the quality of produce planted and harvested is often low. There are limited extension services available for vegetable producers, and access to quality input is poor. Marketing of products is often problematic because of limited transportation and infrastructures and independence on middlemen.
To address the challenges from 2012 to 2014, Helvetas Tanzania implemented a three year project called KUWAKI which is the Swahili acronym of Kuwezesha Wanawake katika Kilimo meaning "Empowering Women Through Agriculture" in the Singida Region, specifically in five districts namely Mkalama, Ikungi, Iramba, Singida Rural and Urban. The project reached over 800 households organized into 40 women farmer groups.
It was anticipated that after three years, women would have access to additional economic opportunities, benefit from them and thereby increase food security of their household and reduce gender inequalities in agriculture. To reach this, farmer groups were trained in: Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for vegetable production, Village Saving and Lending (VSL model), tomato and green leaf processing and entrepreneurship as well as a simple pedal pumps for small-scale irrigation were promoted.
Based on notable achivements obtained in this first phase, Helvetas managed to secure funding (78% of the project total budget) from the European Union to scale-up. Currently, the project is working with 100 farmers' groups representing over 2,500 poor households, and 15 wards in 66 villages of three districts namely Singida Rural, Mkalama and Iramba.
Hon. Benjamin Mkapa, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania
Increase productivity (yields) by 45% and quality of vegetables because of application of good agricultural practices
For the KUWAKI project to to be viable it must ensure full community participation, including the participation of LGAs in planning, implemantation, monitoring & evaluation, and the provision of advisory services.
Trained community technicians ensure regular repair and mantainance of concrete padel pumps, LGAs and SIDO provide support to former farmers groups.
The women's groups have been registered and some are in process of registration at the district community development department in order to become officially recognised and facilitate access to funds and willingness of donors/development partners to support small holder farmers.