HELVETAS Tanzania, a non-governmental organization (NGO), is implementing a three-year based climate smart organic cotton project in central Tanzania.
The initiative has so far benefited at least 25,000 organic cotton growers and their respective communities in Singida and Simiyu regions.
Known as ‘Organic Cotton Project’ (OCP), the robust programme is being implemented by Helvetas in association with the German International Development Agency (GIZ) Tanzania.
The Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM) and two ginnery companies -Biosustain and Alliance are also involved in OCP.
Speaking during an exclusive interview to Tanzania Times, the Helvetas Program Officer, Geraldina Kimaryo reveals the objective of the project, is to work towards climate-smart, resilient cotton farming.
Helvetas thus support cotton growing communities to establishment of organic zones or clusters.
“Basically, the project’s focus areas incorporate climate-smart farming communities, policy and advocacy for the adoption of a climate smart, sustainable and resilient agricultural systems approach towards organic zones or clusters, “she unveiled, adding that organic certification and market linkages were other areas of the project’s concern.”Geraldina Kimaryo – Program Officer (Helvetas)
Kimaryo points out that with the whole world going organic, they are determined to assist the Tanzanian farmers to escape from shackles of poverty through cultivating cotton through an organic system.
However, the Program Officer admits that there are emerging challenges facing the new initiatives.
“Organic farming faces great opposition from large corporates that have been benefitting from selling chemical farm inputs.”
The other challenge is the ongoing conflicts between land-tilling farmers and livestock grazing pastoralists.
“Without bringing the two sides to cooperate it will be difficult to intergrade livestock and farm crops for sustainable organic agriculture,” explains Geraldina Kimaryo.
Other setbacks facing farmers include prolonged drought spells and massive deforestation due to salt.
“Despite the numerous challenges, still there are several opportunities that have cropped up due to prevalent challenges, especially climate change,” she said.
As for the opportunities, Kimaryo detailed that climatic change had awakened the government and international agencies to increase support on sustainable agriculture, and furthermore, increase in price of fertilizers and other chemicals had encouraged farmers to turn to ecological farming.
On the same vein, Kimaryo added, decrease in productivity due to overuse of chemicals in farming activities has triggered an increase in awareness on health issues and raised the demand for chemical-free organically grown food.
Working under the vision of assuring ‘A world in which all men and women determine the course of their lives in dignity and security, using environmental resources in a sustainable manner’ Helvetas supports farmers in improving their production methods, reducing postharvest losses and increasing income by marketing their produce.
Helvetas Tanzania is part of a network of independent development organizations.
With head offices in Switzerland, Germany and the USA, Helvetas is working in 29 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to bring about real change in the lives of over three million disadvantaged people annually.
The organization implements development projects in the areas of water and sanitation, agriculture and nutrition, education, economic development, democracy and peace, and climate and the environment.
Since the 1970 Helvetas in Tanzania has been promoting improvement of basic education and skills development, access to quality services and inclusive economic development and good governance to promote local development.
Using a systemic approach, we collaborate with actors from government, civil society and private sector.