Smallholder farmers in Mbozi district, Mbeya region faces one of the highest post-harvest loses on maize crop due to poor storage facilities and inadequate markets. Maize is the important food and cash crop in the Southern Highlands including the Mbozi district. Given the significant role played by MVIWATA in formation, grassroots group and network organisation and mobilization, smallholder farmers including members of MVIWATA have witnessed fruitful results despite of the prevailing challenges. Iganya smallholder farmers’ grassroots association is among the exemplary case of farmers’ networks that managed to control post-harvest losses thanks to initiatives done by MVIWATA.
Iganya famers’ grassroots association is an umbrella of smallholder farmers at Iganya village formed on August 2015, the association is composed of four groups (Tulinje, Upendo, Tunaweza and Subira) with 140 (80 women and 60 male) members. Upon its establishment (thanks to MVIWATA efforts), the association did little on matters of collective actions. Through different intervention conducted by MVIWATA including formation and exchange visits, members’ activeness increased which led to increased mobilization and organisation of the association.
Through association’s collective actions in 2018, the association stored 400 bags of maize to Unyiha associates, which weighed 40 tonnes for the aim of selling at a better price. Later on, the maize were sold collectively at the price of 580 per kilogram, while other farmers (not in the association) at iganya village sold maize at Tsh 490 per kilogram with a difference of 90 Tsh. This was made possible thanks to interventions made by MVIWATA including business-to-business meetings with Unyiha associates and NFRA. The income generated because of collective efforts and coordination motivated farmers to cultivate more maize.
Apart from the reliable market accessed, MVIWATA also organized formations that created awareness on the proper post-harvest handling of maize especially on the use of hermetic bags, as opposed to liquid icteric as a method used by smallholder farmers that had negative health impacts. Members went further explaining that MVIWATA interventions has reduced storage cost because due to absence of the warehouse in Iganya village farmers had to rent warehouses, buy agro-chemicals and pay the security guard but currently they have found a warehouse to store the crops without incurring the mentioned costs.
“Farming is my life, I have been farming since my childhood, recently, thanks to MVIWATA efforts and despite of the challenges in marketing I can see the profit of my work. Through association’s collective efforts post-harvest handling on maize crops and in selling our maize we have been able witness increased income, me specifically, I have been able to buy a motorcycle and added one more acre for cultivation in the next season.”