VINESA graduates savor success from sweet peppers
When farmers produce quality vegetables with a specific market in mind, income is sure to follow
Two years ago, Joshua Elias from Maweni, Tanzania and a group of other 20 farmers participated in the first VINESA farmer training program in Arusha, Tanzania. The VINESA project aims to equip young farmers with the knowledge and skills to produce high value vegetables for markets and increase the income they can make on their crops.
At 21, Joshua is now an innovative and determined farmer who has become a leader in his village. With the support of his parents Maria and Elias, Joshua and fellow farmer graduates from his village are producing a variety of vegetable crops. This season they grew red and yellow peppers in a greenhouse rehabilitated with help from VINESA. The greenhouse and field on Joshua’s family farm also serve as a community Best Practice Hub.
The peppers were harvested on 22 March 2016 and were sold to a select supermarket chain at TSH 4,500 (USD 2.25) per kilo. Joshua has been able to build a relationship with this buyer through the skills and support he received from VINESA. He learned improved techniques to ensure healthy crops but most importantly, he now understands the value chain and the need to build good connections between buyers and customers so that he can obtain the best possible outcome for his crops.
Joshua has also become a contract seed farmer. He now grows tomatoes for seed production and is working with a Tanzanian seed company. He has trained several women in his village to become contract seed farmers as well.
On the day of the pepper harvest, VINESA Project Manager John Macharia visited Joshua and his family to see how the harvest was progressing. He was pleased to observe that the farmers got premium prices for their peppers. “This is one of the outcomes that VINESA has been hoping to see from its trainees after graduation,” said John. “If graduates know where the markets are and engage profitably with market agents, then joblessness among them will be a thing of the past.”
The VINESA project carefully selected young male and female farmers to participate in the training based on their passion, motivation, and ability to share the skills they learned to their farming communities. Joshua’s confidence and dedication have elevated him to an important position in his community, and the knowledge he gained through VINESA is being passed on to many other farmers in Maweni village and beyond.
Story and photos: John Macharia and Rhiannon O’Sullivan