Spent a long week at the annual farmers show in Dodoma (officially the capital of Tanzania but you’d have to know that – we think it may be the only capital in the world that has no scheduled flights and no traffic lights, although it does have the nation’s largest and possibly only psychiatric hospital – until recently the only such facility catering for three neighbouring countries -Hmm there’s an export niche market for you.)
Anyway NaneNane is Swahili for 8/8 as the eighth of August marks the big finale day. This year the theme was ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ – or ‘Agriculture First’ – the government’s big push for a green revolution to increase agricultural productivity, ensure food security and raise farmers’ incomes.
Our Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement display was one of the few stalls staffed by folk who didnt have Kilimo Kwanza on their tee shirts. Instead we had KilimoHai – living agriculture – Swahili shorthand for organic agriculture. Which meant we were a little off-message. Unfortunately the issue for us is that while we are happy to see increased focus, support and investment in agriculture, and improved livelihoods for small farmers, one of the main planks of government’s Kilimo Kwanza is a massive increase in the use of agro-chemicals, fertiliser and pesticides, whereas we of course are promoting sustainable methods without the nasty chemicals. We do however agree on a lot of points including the need for more seeds to satisfy farmer demand. Again the govt take on this is to encourage the big multinational agribusiness companies to come in and provide the seed multiplication services, whereas we would like to see more farmer driven local research and seed production.
Anyway we saw lots of interesting demonstration plots, quirky ideas, and interesting faces.