Because Tanzania has the right climate, several Dutch seed companies operate there. They want to use their high-quality seeds to help local farmers. But the farmers also need knowledge, especially on how to grow vegetables. That is why Dutch and Tanzanian parties are working together to set up a training and demonstration project. Their motto is: seeing is believing.
There are a lot of small-scale farms in Tanzania. Their crop yields are relatively small as well. Dutch seed companies can help them increase those yields a lot. These companies are developing better seeds that are ideal for local conditions. “With those seeds, the farmers can get much better harvests,” says Elijah Mwashayenyi. He is the director of the Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Industry of Africa (SEVIA) project. “But to make good use of the seeds’ potential, the farmers will first need to improve their techniques.” East West International and Rijk Zwaan are 2 Dutch seed companies that are working on the SEVIA project. Wageningen University & Research is the knowledge partner.
Support from FDOV
The Dutch government is funding the project through the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV). Without that support, there would not be a strong business case for SEVIA, because the sales market for small farmers is very tough. “Thanks to this support, we were able to recruit trainers and set up a demo farm,” Mr Mwashayenyi explains.
Training courses and demonstrations
The demo farm first tried out the seeds and cultivation techniques. “Many interns from local universities came to help. Before visiting the farmers, the trainers gained the experience they needed for the demonstrations. On small fields, they showed the results of the improved seeds and techniques. The training course also covered production planning, which helps farmers get a better price for their crops.”
Focus on women
The project had a special focus on women. “They do most of the work in the fields, but the men make the decisions. To solve this problem, we trained men and women at the same time. We also set up demo fields specifically for groups of women, so that they could put the knowledge into practice right away.”
50% greater yields
The SEVIA project ended in May 2020, and its results were better than expected. “We were able to train 48,000 farmers instead of the 30,000 we planned to help. We also raised productivity levels among the farmers taking part, which is just as important. Their crop yields increased by at least 50%.”
Continuing the work at partner organisations
The project is over, but the work continues. “Our trainers are now continuing their work at partner organisations,” says Mr Mwashayenyi. “Today, East West International and Rijk Zwaan are helping farmers in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and other countries.” The project will lead to greater food security not just in Tanzania, but in many other places.
Would you like to know more?
Would you like to learn more about our projects for food security and public-private partnerships? Visit the information page on Sustainable Development Goals Partnership (SDGP, follow-up to the FDOV programme). Or visit our Project Database for information about the status, partners, and budget of the SEVIA project.