YPI Scotland

More than 440 smallholder tea farmers in Tanzania have graduated following a year-long training programme focussing on tea development and management.

The farmers are members of the Njombe Outgrowers Services Company (NOSC) and have recently planted out tea as a cash crop to eventually supply the Unilever Kabambe factory.

During the 15 classes, farmers received a mix of theory and practical topics including a visit to a tea processing factory. Cross-cutting topics such as climate change and environmental management, nutrition, HIV/AIDs, and income management were also covered.

David Knopp, Africa Director at The Wood Foundation, said:

“Farmer Field Schools are a vitally important part of our tea greenfield developments. Funding alone cannot lead to transformational change. We need to support our farmers to develop their skills and understanding in realising the potential for them and their families from their tea farms.

“Congratulations to our latest cohort to graduate. Their efforts are to be applauded and the impact they will now have on economic regeneration for their family and community region will be immense.”

Ninety-eight percent of those who embarked upon the training graduated at a ceremony which included song and dance, as well as on-farm demonstrations of what they learned such as nursery development and maintenance, land preparation, planting, tipping, pruning, plucking, decentering, pest and disease control, best practice in fertiliser use, prevention of soil erosion and flooding, and sustainable tea farming.

On behalf of the Government of Tanzania, the Guest of Honour was Honourable Ayub Mndeme, Regional Economic and Planning Officer, Njombe Region representing the Regional Commissioner. He emphasised the need for closer collaboration amongst all stakeholders in the tea industry to boost farmers’ productivity and incomes. He reiterated the importance of sustainable tea farming that takes account of the environment and enhances farmers’ livelihoods, noting that environmental conservation and management of climate change risks were key priorities for the Government of Tanzania for the Njombe region.

Farmer training is a core part of The Wood Foundation Africa’s venture philanthropy work. Since 2016, 93 Farmer Field Schools have been established training 2668 farmers of which 1476 are male and 1192 are female. Sensitisation is now underway for a new cohort.