Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) was created to be more than just a helping hand for its country’s farmers; it’s an educator, a facilitator, a motivator and for some, their salvation.
Created in Morogoro, Eastern Tanzania in 2011 by Janet and Alex Maro, SAT is an innovative not for profit organisation, which promotes and facilitates environmentally friendly farming methods to improve the quality and quantity of food produced in a bid to eradicate food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition.
“We believe that development has to start at household level and the first thing is to get enough healthy food. When you combat food insecurity, you are able to do better work,” Janet said in an interview published on the Tanzanian news website The Citizen in November 2016. Janet’s theory is that this will increase an individual’s productivity, which in turn boosts yields and therefore allows the family producing the food to sell their surplus in the market to escape poverty and build a sustainable future.
SAT’s mission is simple; it inspires, educates, and trains small-scale farmers in the use of organic methods to tackle the agricultural challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change, scarcity of resources and the food crisis. It does this by bringing them together with educators, researchers and even members of the government. By researching, networking, sharing positive ideas and experiences, training, lobbying, disseminating information, and demonstrating, SAT has played a crucial role in generating and implementing new, locally relevant knowledge in agroecology.
“SAT is really coming from the grassroots,” Janet said in the interview. “We work with the farmers and the university. We are like a family, we share, we advise each other and we grow together.”
To get the message across, SAT disseminates the information in a variety of ways. It’s demonstrated techniques face-to-face in more than 50 villages, it’s hosted over 1,700 farmers, facilitators and youths from all over East Africa at its Farmer Training Centre, which opened in 2013, and it reaches an audience of almost 50,000 with its self-produced magazine Mkulima Mbunifu.
Through all its efforts, SAT has trained over 2,500 individuals in organic farming in the last five years, and that number continues to rise every day. What’s more, in addition to encouraging the use of sustainable farming methods, SAT has initiated a wider variation of produce, so that alongside the traditional staples of corn and beans, farmers are now growing spinach, tomatoes, cabbage and a range of legumes.
While the organisation has undoubtedly achieved a great deal, it’s thought that three quarters of Tanzania’s 50 million plus population are engaged in agricultural activities, so there are still plenty of people to reach and work to be done. In recognition of its achievements and inspirational ideology, SAT scooped one of the two Lush Spring Prize Established Project Awards, and with it £25,000 to help continue its life-changing work.
“We are deeply honoured and humbled with the prize,” the group says. “Winning funding and acknowledgement of the Spring Prize means that our work receives national and international recognition which means our efforts have been seen. It is an inspiration to other grassroots initiatives across the globe and it is a big victory for the agroecological movement in Tanzania. The funding will be used to strengthen this movement.”
To keep abreast of the great work SAT is doing, check out its website at http://www.kilimo.org