Janet Maro runs Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) and Bustani ya Tushikamane (Garden of Solidarity). Both projets are supported by Biovision and teach farmers in organic and sustainable agriculture. She was our guest during the Symposium which took place in Zurich last Saturday, so we could meet her for this interview.
How widespread is organic farming in Tanzania?
Tanzania has about 85,000 hectares for large scale and small scale certified organic farms. About 100,000 farmers are contracted by companies to produce organic products for export. There are about 36 companies and cooperatives which are certified to export organic products. Research on benefits of organic agriculture ecologically, socially and economically is still on-going. In Tanzania organic farming is mostly confused by traditional farming in which no inputs are used and therefore on this basis one can say that many small scale farms are organic by default. When it comes to certified organic farming, there are very few certified large scale organic farms which mostly produce coffee, cotton, cocoa, spices like lemongrass and paprika, tea and fruits. Tanzania is still behind as compared to neighbors Kenya and Uganda, the few organic products here are mostly for export.
What does the situation look like with regard to consumption?
There are very few certified organic products in the local market and they fetch more or less the same price as conventional products. This is because there are no organic shops and consumers are not aware about the existence of organic products in the local market. Experience with the few products in our demonstration garden has shown that there is a high demand for organic products. The research which we conducted on willingness to pay for organic products show that people highly appreciate safe (organic products) and are even willing to pay more. Since we online casino are aware about this fact, we are focusing with our project activities to enhance awareness about organic products among all stakeholders (producers, buyers, consumers). For the local market, there are no standards specifically for Tanzania but the East Africa Organic Products Standards (EAOPS) can be used. These standards are existing since 2007, at the moment in Tanzania there are no small scale farmers certified.
What is the mission of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) and Bustani ya Tushikamane (Garden of Solidarity)?
In Tanzania many farmers are small scale and therefore different technics can be used so as to enable these farmers to have assurance of food security and income generation. My mission with the organization Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) as a partner in development and the project Bustani ya Tushikamane (ByT) is to see that small scale farmers are able to increase their yields in an environmentally friendly way so as to be able to attain food security and improve their incomes. This is achieved through training and facilitation on sustainable agriculture. We work at the grass root level where we build up on farmers’ knowledge and get feedback.
What is your personal role?
I work in the field closely with farmers and together with the ByT team. We identify and practice simple technologies that are affordable and readily available for use in production of healthy crops and animals. We involve students from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), who I work closely with, to conduct research on questions that need more detailed answers. Working in the field of sustainable agriculture and closely with farmers is a lifetime experience, there are always new plants and methods coming up, this makes my work very interesting. Being the director of SAT means that I am responsible for the smooth running of the organization, I am grateful to my colleagues who are working tirelessly towards realizing the goal of the organization. I am also very grateful to the Biovision foundation for supporting SAT and ByT.
What message would you like to get across to the audience of our Symposium?
The only way to survive and feed 9 billion people like the IAASTD report has shown is sustainable agriculture. In tropical parts of the world, specifically Tanzania, a production system which reduces costs is the most appropriate. Other production systems are expensive and not affordable by farmers and moreover they negatively influence the environment and health.