Mananasi, mpango mzima: It's all about pineapples!
In Geita district, north-west Tanzania, over 70 per cent of households depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Major food and cash crops include cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, beans, cowpeas, yams, cotton and groundnuts but, most of all, this area is know for having the sweetest pineapples in Tanzania, known locally as “mananasi”.
Despite favourable conditions and growth potential on the local and regional market, most small scale farmers live below the poverty line. The main challenges according to the farmers include poor storage facilities contributing to high post-harvest losses and poor market linkages contributing to unstable and erratic practices dictated by middlemen. Access to technology and financial services have also limited the development of small enterprises.
Despite these challenges, there are success stories. UWAMAMI, established in 1999, is an association of 91 small-scale farmers located around Igate village, Geita district. Today, they have a savings and credit scheme with a revolving fund value of nine million Tanzanian Shillings (around £3,600) and together they produce 10,000 tonnes of pineapples a year. One of their most successful members cultivates pineapples over 10 acres and in a good year can generate 35 million Tanzanian shillings (around £14,000) from their sale.
ACORD has been working alongside UWAMAMI and other small-scale pineapple and vegetable producers in Nkome, Nzera, Kagu and Kakubilo in Geita district, providing training on good agricultural practices with a view to increase productivity and business development training to support the development of small agricultural enterprises. Storage and marketing facilities have were established in 2014 with support from Jersey Overseas Aid. These facilities were officially opened by the Regional Commissioner for Geita, Fatma Mwassa during a launch event on January 20, 2015.
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The project has generated a huge amount of enthusiasm in the community and also commitment from the local authorities. During the launch event, the district and regional commissioner pledged five million Tanzanian shillings (about £2000) to the revolving fund and a rural elecrification programme which would extend electricity coverage to the site within six months allowing the members to set up a coolroom for storing produce within the centre. In the long term, the members intend to branch out into the sale of pineapple juice, wine and other products.