Kilombero farmers embrace organic cacao cultivation

03May 2021
Marc Nkwame
Morogoro
The Guardian
Kilombero farmers embrace organic cacao cultivation

SMALLHOLDER farmers within Kilombero valley in Morogoro Region have began organic cacao farming an initiative that also seeks to conserve environment.

The programme is implemented by African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) through support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Global Nature Fund (GNF).

Through the ‘Inclusive Green Growth for Agrarian Communities’ in Kilombero, cacao growers in the precinct are being assisted to go about the trade differently, balancing farming and environment conservation to save the country’s most important water catchment area.

“We want farmers to be fully responsible in environment protection through profitable Agroforestry activities,” said AWF Programme Manager, Pastor Magingi in an interview reently.

(AWF) through support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ and GNF started implementing a project targeting to reach 2,000 cocoa and rice smallholder farmers in Kilombero District.

The initiative covers 16 villages located within Mngeta division, of Mlimba Council, including Mofu, Ihenga, Namwala, Mngeta, Mbingu, Ikule, Njage, Makutano, Kisegese, Udagaji, Lukorongo, Chiwachiwa, Igima, Vigaeni, and Mchombe.

There are over 100,000 smallholder farmers in the area with about 90 per cent of the population depending on agriculture, where more than 70 per cent grow rice and almost 20 per cent grow cocoa. At least 35 per cent of all farmers happen to be women.

“The main driving factor in encouraging cacao farming is the availability of ready markets, but this also demands quality produce, that is why we have growers working in groups to ensure that through the unions they get to reach set standards,” added Alexander Mpwaga the AWF Agricultural officer.

Though almost  99 percent of Tanzanian cocoa is grown organically. Cacao farmers in the Kilombero Valley not only practice organic farming, in the complete absence of any inorganic inputs but actually yearn to be recognized as such, beyond borders and continent.

Tanzania produces about 70,000 tons of raw Cacao seeds in a year, from mostly the Southern Highlands farms. The figure is a far cry compared to West Africa’s annual output of 2.5 Million tonnes.

The crop, from which candies, edible chocolates and drinks as well as cosmetics products are made from, commands over US $ 1 billion, cash flow annually.

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