Farmers at Siwandeti village, near Arusha, were visited on the 25th November by HE Ms Sarah Cooke, the British High Commissioner to Tanzania. The visit was facilitated by BRAC staff from the nearby Ngaramtoni branch office, and was also attended by Project Manager Mr Hem Chandro Roy and Mr Rakibul Bari Khan, BRAC Tanzania’s Country Representative. As previous head of DFID Bangladesh, Ms Cooke has extensive expertise in the development sector and is no stranger to BRAC’s unique way of working. The visitors were met by all 13 members of a LEAD poultry farmer producer group.
The LEAD project, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), has 4,004 poultry producer group in total who work together to share experience, cooperate and establish linkage in the markets. Producer groups also contain mutually-guaranteeing support groups for farmers who have taken micro-loans. One demonstration farmer, community poultry vaccine promoter, trader, agro-vet, and ward extension officer from the local government livestock department were also in attendance. T
A ‘market-systems development’ (M4P) based project, LEAD aims to increase farmer engagement in local markets to create a stable system of improved returns for everyone, and building cooperation between a range of actors is an important part of this. This particular producer group was formed and received training on modern poultry rearing in December 2014. The lead farmer of the group is David Meshwareki, who welcomed Ms Cooke to the village and lead the process of sharing the farmers’ key successes and challenges, as well as the changes the LEAD project has brought.
Demonstration farmer Suzana Ezra shared her success in expanding her poultry rearing farm from 20 local birds to around 200 exotic poultry birds, both through purchase and successfully rearing to adulthood 6 batches of her own chickens. She makes a net profit of 210,000 TSH from rearing 200 of these broilers per 6-7 weeks cycle. She shared that local group members and community farmers visited her farm and learned from her rearing practices, leading to 15 of her neighboring farmers starting up their own operations.
John Mwita, a 60 year-old Maasai shared that his traditional livelihood depended on cattle rearing, a high-investment form of farming and increasingly difficult for older people. According to John, in most cases elderly Maasai come to depend on begging or support from others. He pointed out that poultry rearing activities ensure him a better and more dignified life within his family and society. From training and follow up interventions, he learned about modern poultry rearing practices and expanded his business from 9 birds to 75 poultry birds over the past two years. He shared his appreciation for the LEAD project’s ability to create employment, income and nutrition opportunities for older members of the community.
Hawa Maulidi, a community poultry promoter specializing in vaccinations, shared that she earns around 60,000 – 70,000 TSH per month from her service provision. Her interventions reduce mortality rate and give farmers the comfort of some security for their poultry enterprises.
Crispa Mathayo, a trained agro-vet told of the success she experienced after attending project-facilitated training interventions and receiving BRAC loan support to expand her business with. Beyond her agro-vet business expansion, she has also recently been able to invest in starting a shoe business, to diversify and increase her income. This, we have found, is a common story among farmers who are successful in one business, as the stability that comes from many different income streams is very valuable to the rural poor.
Ezra Kiusa, a local poultry trader, mentioned that local poultry bird and eggs supply increased after the project interventions, which enabled to purchase more from the farmer group, and increase his turnover and income.
Ms Cooke also took the time to visit two farmers’ farms and was pleased to note the numerous chickens and well-kept equipment. All in all, the High Commissioner found herself impressed by the progress and impact of the project and later tweeted about the newfound ability of women farmers to earn more money and send their kids to school. She opined that the British would continue their support for development in Tanzania by supporting different development programmes after LEAD, in order to improve the lives and livelihoods of poor people. After the discussion, she was able to visit two farms and was impressed at the number of birds and current production levels.