“For us, sustainable agriculture as a practice and struggle started at the district level demonstration plot, we designed after the training on Agroecology for farmer leaders we attended, organized by MVIWATA. From the training and upon several feedback sessions as a network we reached a collective decision to conduct local based research, promote local knowledge in agriculture and multiply our local seeds which at that time only few of them were available to some members mainly women.” – Mustapha Mmeto, the Network Chairperson
The first attempt was the creation of the district demonstration plot in Liputu village where through it, farmers, members of MVIWATA and non – members from different wards of Masasi District contributed to knowledge creation and dissemination from local seed multiplication to plant management. The farmers used the demonstration plots to conduct a local based research on agroecological practices versus conventional practices.
The demonstration plot initiative also invited extension officers to learn together with the farmers and participate in research designed by farmers where they were testing and documenting local and conventional seeds and practices performance.
“We knew from the start that, our ways of farming are always looked as backward and not efficient and so to advocate for them we invited all extension officers from the different wards and villages in our district to attend and learn together with us, and they received our invitation and participated with us in the process.” – Jackline Lissu, MVIWATA Rural Promoter from Masasi.
In the plots, we had both local and hybrid varieties for research using the recommended spacing and designs, we also prepared and tested different organic pesticides and at the end discovered that local seeds could give tremendous yield even under what they call ‘local methods’
The district demonstration plot established in 2020 then gave birth to ward and group demonstration plots where the network mandated every MVIWATA member to participate in the demo-plot to produce and learn collectively. This then strengthened and activated the groups and local networks to participate in production activities through their structures, from which farmers have collectively learnt on agroecological practices (theoretically and practically), produced and sold collectively where in 2021 for example there were records of farmers collectively earning more from their produces due to the non-chemical production practices, they have engaged in production but also reduced farm operational costs.
In 2022, 4 ward demonstration plots were established in Nangoo, Lulindi, Temeke and Mchauru wards where members embarked in their journey of learning together, producing and saving/ storing seeds.
“We still hold on to the demonstration plots initiative, and currently farmers are diversifying and test different local varieties that we get from our fellow farmers across Tanzania through MVIWATA as it is a policy that in whatever event that MVIWATA members meet, everyone has to bring some local seeds for exchanging.”– Mustafa Mmeto, Masasi.