Creating food and economic security for schools through our Shamba Letu project
In Tanzania, approximately 67% of the population work in the agriculture sector. Despite the Manyara region being a food crop producing region, 36% of the population still suffers from malnutrition. The government is trying to combat this problem by providing schools with up to 10 acres of farmland, yet less than a third of this land is currently put to use and the majority of Tanzanian pupils don’t get a meal at school.
So They Can’s Shamba Letu (“Our Field” in Kiswahili) project is designed to educate students, teachers and the community about modern farming practices so that they can improve the quality and quantity of their produce.
The project is currently led by Zadock Kweka, who runs demonstrations and training for students, parents and teachers. Zadock is based at Mamire Teachers’ College, where So They Can has been gifted land to create a demonstration farm, however he also travels to other school communities and trains Champion Farmers who can help share these farming techniques with others.
The project teaches communities agricultural practices, agribusiness and entrepreneurship skills that will help the school community to sustainably feed themselves and even bring in new income streams.
Pupils and teachers from our schools are trained in key skills so that they can establish the gardens for both vegetables and orchards in their school farms to supplement their meals. Meanwhile, Mamire Teachers’ College students gain practical knowledge in agriculture so that when they graduate and are employed as teachers, they can train the pupils in their schools to use the land provided to them by the government.
Zadock is incredibly proud of the project , which is ensuring that students are happy and healthy. “The pupils are now able to eat vegetables in their meals at least once a week depending on the size of the garden,” he explains, which might seem unfathomable to those of us who are lucky to eat vegetables whenever we want, but in Tanzania many students suffer from malnutrition and rarely have access to vegetables. What’s more, due to the training students are now establishing the gardens at their homes.
The goal is to not only provide nutritious food and food security for the students, but also increase their income so that they can afford academic materials and make improvements to the school. Zadock highlights that through Shamba Letu, “schools and farmers are now able to adopt modern farming techniques and practices such as the use of improved farming inputs, which in turn increases outputs and addresses food security and economic challenges.”
One of Zadock’s favourite success stories from the project is Ngwangweri Primary School. The school sent 3 teachers and 30 students to a demonstration day at Mamire Teachers’ College. Since then, the school has established their vegetable garden which allows them to eat vegetables at least twice a week. So They Can has since donated a well and water tank to the school to enable them to increase production so that the whole community can now benefit from the garden.
If you’d like to learn more, you can read about our school projects or sponsor a school like Ngwangweri.