This October, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) organised training on regenerative agriculture for 20 farmers and extension workers feature in 10 AFSA agroecology case studies from across Africa. The case studies, collected in AFSA’s Making the Case for Agroecology initiative – coordinated by the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM) – are available online at: http://afsafrica.org/case-studies/.
One of the case studies comes from Chololo Ecovillage, Dodoma, and documents the successes of the first phase of the Ecovillage Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Tanzania (EcoACT) project. Stephano Chifwaguzi attended the workshop as a representative of EcoACT beneficiaries from across Dodoma region. EcoACT project coordinator, Dr. Francis Njau, was also in attendance to represent the implementing team.
The training, held at the SACDEP Training Centre in Thika, Kenya, was facilitated by Professor Jairo Restrepo, educator, activist and agroecology advocate. Restrepo campaigns for a return of self-determination, knowledge and autonomy for the farmer in the face of powerful agribusiness. Lessons imparted during the training covered an array of practical technologies and preparations to increase soil fertility and transform plant growth.
For Michael Farrelly, attending as a representative of AFSA, this was a unique opportunity for participants. “Jairo’s vast knowledge and insights into natural processes, the bio-chemistry of soils and plants, and his ability to transfer these sophisticated but practical skills to farmers using locally available materials, takes farmer training to a completely new level.”
Stephano Chifwaguzi was selected to participate in the workshop due to the outstanding changes he has made to the agriculture system on his family farm through engagement in the EcoACT project. By adopting good climate resilient agriculture practices, Chifwaguzi has managed to significantly increase his yields and maintain a good harvest during times of severe drought. He has also benefitted from new skills in leather processing, which have provided himself and his family with supplementary income.
Chifwaguzi was impressed by the work ethic in Kenya. As a result of the training he has become even more convinced that organic farming systems are the way to go, stating, “If you produce good food, you are helping to fill your stomach and your mind.” Chifwaguzi encourages his fellow Tanzanians to “work hard and imitate good practices that we see implemented by others”.
Dr Francis Njau, attending as a representative of the EcoACT project implementing team, notes that the raw materials used for making organic fertilizers are readily available in central Tanzania. Using the knowledge gained from Prof Jairo, the EcoACT project will facilitate the farmers in the project area to make organic fertilizer. Utilising locally available materials is part of the strategy to help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change, especially drought.
In the Dodoma region of central Tanzania, farmers struggle with low and erratic rainfall and exhausted soils. As Farrelly explains, the techniques covered by Professor Restrepo have the potential to “quickly and cheaply revitalise soils, adding organic matter and generating microbial action, increasing the water holding capacity of the soil and nourishing plant growth”. The training also offered a developed understanding on how ecosystems work. This can have wide ranging benefits for farmers in Dodoma. For instance, it is hoped that this will encourage farmers to practice agroforestry, a key component of the EcoACT project, which can reduce soil temperatures and enable farmers to become more resilient to climate change.
The training was organised by Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and PELUM Kenya, and supported by SwedBio and Ragmans Farm UK.
The EcoACT project (Ecovillage Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Tanzania) is supported by the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), via the Ministry of Finance EDF Office.