First National Ecological Organic Agriculture Conference in Tanzania [fr]
On the 26th and 27th of November 2019, the first National Conference on Ecological Organic Agriculture was held in Dodoma, with the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Japhet Hasunga as the Guest of Honor.
The Head of Cooperation and Cultural Affairs from the Embassy of France to Tanzania, Cécile Frobert, the Country Director of the French Development Agency (AFD) in Tanzania, Stéphanie Mouen, and the Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Tanzania, Fred Kafeero, attended this very first National Ecological Organic Agriculture Conference held in Tanzania. The event was co-funded by the Embassy of France to Tanzania, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Liechtenstein Development Service and the FAO.
The objective of the event was to link initiatives that support the scaling-up of agro-ecosystems and to demonstrate how Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) is at the core of sustainable development through its multi-dimensional impact:
(1) Food security and safety: Achieving resilient and sustainable production of safe food throughout the seasons through Ecological Organic Agriculture practices and technologies.
(2) Livelihood improvement and industrialization: Improving the livelihoods of grassroots communities and contributing to the industrialization agenda.
(3) Resilience to climate change and environmental conservation: Making grassroots communities more resilient to climate change and extreme weather patterns, including prolonged drought periods and heavy rainfall, rising sea levels and cyclones.
In order to achieve that goal, the event engaged more than 200 key policy makers and stakeholders, including the government at central and local levels, the parliament, the development partners, the civil society, the private sector, academia, and the media.
As part of this first national conference on agroecology, Swissaid, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) and the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM) co-created a documentary on agroecology in Tanzania: https: // www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt-0RV_11DI&pbjreload=10
Additionally, upstream of the conference, four major representatives of the agro-ecology sector in Tanzania participated in an interview conducted by Capital TV, with the support of the French Embassy: Janet Maro (Founder and Executive Director of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania), Jordan Gama (AfroNet President and Executive Director of Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement – TOAM), Mwatima Juma (Senior Country Program Officer for Eastern and Southern Africa at IFAD), Dr. Vera Ngowi (Department of Environment and Occupational Health at MUHAS): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4J-Pge_CQs&feature=youtu.be
This conference was the result of a large and unique collaborative effort, involving the Embassy of France, the FAO, GIZ, the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative from the African Union, BIORE Foundation, Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO), Milele Zanzibar Foundation (MZF), Pelum Tanzania, ECHO, SWISSAID, Control Union (CU) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ).
What is agroecology?
Agro-ecology is a sustainable development approach that goes beyond agricultural techniques. It is specifically based on bottom-up processes that help to deliver contextualized solutions to local problems. Agro-ecological innovations are based on the co-creation of knowledge, combining science with the traditional, practical and local knowledge of farmers. It is also based on the principles of permaculture and the use of natural techniques (chemicals-free), using what is directly available in one’s surrounding environment while, at the same time, preserving it.
What role does agro-ecology play in the context of climate change?
(1) Through biomass preservation and agroforestry, the agro-ecological approach has a huge potential in the long-term to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is the number one cause of global warming that ultimately leads to climate change effects.
(2) Besides these mitigation effects, agro-ecology also provides tools to adapt to climate variability, through the use of local and traditional practices that are best suited to local soil, water, rainfall and gene pool (local manure and mulching, local seeds, etc.).
(3) The development of integrated ecosystems and the diversification of land use (mixture of annual crops, crops and livestock, etc.) participate to soils fertility and ensure in turns soils and crops resilience to climate change.
How does agroecology improve livelihood and participate to food security?
By addressing climate change challenges, agroecology will participate in turns to increased production and improved productivity of yields, therefore responding to food security. Besides, the chemicals-free techniques used by agroecology ensure that the food produced is healthy and tasty. Finally, as agroecology techniques require minimal or no financial inputs, it also participates to the financial sustainability of smallholders farmers.
What are the opportunities to sell agroecological products in national and international markets?
Today in Tanzania, half a million of farmers organized in cooperatives are certified organic and have accessed organic and fair trade markets. As a result of an increased demand for health products in the country, new market opportunities are created every day.
The demand for organic products is also increasing on the international markets, with high demands coming from the USA, Europe and India. These are key opportunities for Tanzanian producers to export their organics production.