Farmers themselves can defend their interests
05 / 2002
Farmers ought to confront their problems in order to defend their rights and interests. Lobbying for financial and material assistance, advocating for reforms in front of the communal and regional assemblies and solving funding difficulties should be made possible if the farmers worked hand in hand. Thus, the Network of Farmers’ Groups in Tanzania (Mviwata) was founded in 1993 by 22 innovative farmers from Morogoro, Iringa, Kilimanjaro Tanga, Mbeya andDodoma regions, with the aim of creating farmer to farmer exchange forums. The Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro guided the idea and succeeded in registering the organisation in 1995. Their philosophy is based on a rural development initiated from the farmer’s level through local initiatives and membership forums. The organisation is composed of individual members, local farmers, local networks and a national network. With 75 networks (a network varies between 5 and 15 affiliated groups made of 15 to 200 members) i. e. over 3000 individual card-holder members, Mviwata benefits to now 10 000 to 25 000 persons. Mviwata chooses to strengthen local groups and networks through the teaching of self-reliance, commitment and participation, and the reflexion above sustainable income-generating projects in the marketing and rural banking field and their realisation. Mviwata proposes the following activities:
- visits within and outside Tanzania to enable the farmers to acquire new farming technologies (like simple irrigation) to increase their production capacities,
- national and regional workshops on specific topics (agriculture, livestock and social and health problems like HIV/Aids, malaria, contraception),
- training of the Board members, the leaders of the local networks so that the leaders should know how to keep farming records,
- information, documentation, publication of a quarterly newsletter (Pambazuko) and diffusion of the farmers’ experiences and activities through videos, booklets and articles by the farmers and for the farmers.
Today, Mviwata has overcome most of its organisation problems has registered many achievements. Registered and unregistered groups of farmers together with their networks work on specific activities such as village banks, marketing, road construction and income-generating activities like vegetables farming, food processing, dairy projects for cows and goats. These activities have gone a long way to improve the earnings of the farmers who are now sending their children to school, building houses with water and electricity, opening retail stores, improving healthcare in the rural areas. Consequently, a decrease of the rural exodus has been observed. Specifically, Mviwata has so far organised farmers’ visits to 16 regions in Tanzania and internationally. About 50 farmers have been involved in this program, bringing back home ideas and knowledges.
Mviwata is a strong farmers’ organisation that wishes to guarantee small-scale farmers’ participation and representation in socio-economic and political decision-making processes through the acquisition of new abilities in the initiation, the implementation and the evaluation of their own economic and social projects.
This file was written during the World Peasant Meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon, from the 6th to the 11th of May 2002.
Contact : HEPELWA, Andrew, Mviwata, PO Box 3220, Morogoro, Tanzania - Tel/fax: (255) 0232 604184 - firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Interview with HEPELWA, Andrew, secretary of the Network of Farme