Meet the farmers you are helping in Tanzania

By: 
CARE
Maya Isdori, a farmer in Tanzania

Droughts one season, floods the next… Find out from farmers in Tanzania how we are helping them to learn climate-smart farming techniques.

Your donations to our Help Her Live Learn and Earn appeal were matched by the UK government – with the matched funds enabling us to set up this two-year project.

This is what the project will mean to some of the 2,460 farmers taking part.

Maya Isdori

Maya Isdori, a farmer in Tanzania

For the past couple of years, Maya and her family have been the talk of Ruvujiungeni village. This is because her 20-year-old daughter Sakina has got into university in Dar Es-Salaam to study medicine – an unprecedented achievement for a woman in her village. “It’s not normal!” says Maya. “I’m very proud of her.”

But the impacts of climate change have put these plans on hold. First there was drought:

We were planting on the lowland, and the rains didn’t come. So we had to walk several miles to the river to collect water and carry it back on our heads.

Then last year there were massive floods which wiped out her entire six acres of crops:

Before the flood, my daughter went to school and I was ready to pay her university fees. But now all financial stability is gone, so I didn’t want to deposit the first fees in case I couldn’t pay the rest. I was also building my house – which I’ve had to put on hold. I would do anything for her to go.

I have a lot of confidence in this project and I hope it will improve things. I hope my daughter can take her place at university soon.

Yustina Julius Mbwambo

Yustina Mbwambo, a farmer in Tanzania

The rain has really reduced. With lack of water, my crops don’t grow and I lose money.

I will learn from the Farmers’ Field Business School and will no longer have an issue with food. The training will teach agricultural techniques, so I will be able to adapt my own plot, and also teach other farmers to do the same. I’ll be able to pass on the knowledge that I learn to my husband, who’s also a farmer, and to others in the community.

Abraham Mndeme

Abraham Mndeme, a farmer in Tanzania

One year the rain would come – the next year it didn’t. Since then, it has been like that – unpredictable.

We are going to learn about which seeds are most resistant to drought, how they work differently in different areas and climates and how to plant them, because it’s a bit different from what we’re used to. I’ll be able to go to Same and ask for this particular seed.

We’ve prepared the plot of land where we will receive the training. We’ve built a terraced plot, which we never had before. This kind of plot is good for retaining water. Because CARE will also be working with water user groups, we have already identified a water source and the project is going to help us build an irrigation channel between this and our plot, so we can get more water.

The project is also linking us up with official government weather forecasts, so that we know when the rain is coming and can plan ahead. At the moment, I just wait until the rain comes, then I run to the farm to sow the seeds. But by then it’s too late.

If I get more money, the first thing I will do is make sure I can pay school fees for my children. The second is buying a water pump. At the moment, my wife and I walk a kilometre to a water hole 12 times a day between us. If we get a water pump, I can share this with my neighbour and we won’t have to work so hard to get water.

Taji Azaria

Taji Azaria, a farmer in Tanzania

When I was young, it would rain a lot and the water would fall every day for three to four months consecutively, but now it is just one to two months, for maybe just a few days a week.

My life has been shaken up by the drought. I now can’t afford to send my children to the same school, and two of them are living far away.

CARE taught me about getting good quality seeds and how to make beds for the seeds. I hope the project will move me in a better direction.

Simon Gasper Mchome

Simon Gasper Mchome, a farmer in Tanzania

Simon grows maize and lablab (a type of bean) on two acres of land in Mgwase village. He used to grow enough to sell as well as to feed himself, his wife and their five children, but in recent years, his crop yield has reduced and he no longer produces enough to sell.

In the photo above, he stands with his maize crop from which he used to get 15 bags but which has now failed because of the drought.

When the harvest was good, my children got the bus to school, and ate three meals a day. We can’t afford the bus any more so now they walk 3-4 km, and we can only afford one meal of ugali a day. We cannot afford to buy new clothes either – I haven’t bought any since June last year. Every little money I get goes on food.

With a better crop yield, I will be able to send my children to a better school. I will also be able to invest more into my farming and diversify my crops.

I’m really excited about this project – it’s going to change the whole village. There are 30 people in each Farmers’ Field Business School and there are three of them in the village. We’re going to produce a generation of climate-smart farming experts. Instead of depending
on just one person, we will have 90 to spread the knowledge and pass it down through the generations. Our whole village will become more prosperous.

Asia Mshe

Asia Mshe, a farmer in Tanzania

Before the flood, we’d had a drought since 2014. I would plant and everything died.

I expect it [the project] to train me in how to farm in dry areas – I expect it to be a milestone for me.

Chagonga Mdee

Chagonga Mdee, a farmer in Tanzania

When you are hungry, you can’t work properly, you can’t think properly.

Chagonga, who lives in Makanya village with his wife, also a farmer, and four children aged between six and 14, has been chosen to be a ‘gender champion’ for the Help Her Live Learn and Earn project, ensuring that women are empowered throughout the project and engaging other men in gender equality. He says:

I hope to advise other men to listen to their wives, because wives contribute to the family.

Chagonga is also chairman of his village’s Farmers’ Field Business School. He says:

Me and my community will benefit first, but I can also tell others about what we’ve learned. People will walk past the field we learn in and ask what we’re doing – and I will spread the knowledge.

Joyce John

Joyce John, a farmer in Tanzania

I noticed that the drought started getting worse somewhere between four and seven years ago. It has really affected me and my family, because the loss of income means we cannot eat as much. We can only eat enough so that we don’t die.

I wish my family could eat well. I wish we could have a variety of food - so today we could eat pilau, tomorrow rice, and maybe even meat the day after.

Joyce’s teenage daughter hasn’t been able to return to school this year because her parents cannot afford the school fees. Joyce says:

She is very worried and she always asks, ‘When am I going back to school? What is going to happen, when I find my schoolmates already progressing and I will be left behind?’

But Joyce is hopeful that CARE’s Help Her Live Learn and Earn project will change things:

I am looking forward to being educated in different farming techniques, and with that, I expect to harvest more. Hopefully it will be like a scale – the more I harvest, the more I produce, and the more money I will have to invest back into my business. I hope I will be able to feed my family more nutritious and varied food, and that my daughter will be able to go back to school.

I hope that I’ll receive training that will help my farm produce more during the drought. If we increase yield then I get money, and if I get money then my wishes will come true.

Interviews and story by Emily Wight, CARE International UK

This two-year project in Tanzania is funded by the UK government through UK aid match, where donations by the UK public to CARE’s Help Her Live, Learn and Earn campaign were doubled by the UK government, with the matched funds going towards the project in Tanzania.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.