Catalyzing agricultural innovation in Tanzania

LEAD farmer members in Tanzania.
LEAD farmer members in Tanzania.

In 2013, BRAC began a project to raise incomes for 105,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania. How do you break down barriers to the market for thousands of rural, subsistence farmers, most of them women, and improve the quality of the product the farmers offer? Those are the challenges the Livelihood Enhancement through Agricultural Development (LEAD) project, now in its fourth and final year, seeks to address. We are excited to share our progress with you.

To improve the quality of the product offered, BRAC used demonstration farmers and community poultry promoters (CPP) to spread knowledge about modern techniques for corn and chicken production. To accomplish this, more than 600 CPPs have been trained. Additionally, BRAC specifically trained almost 100 community members to become veterinary and agriculture technical experts who are also supporting farmers.

In our last report, we also discussed farmer field days, during which demonstration farmers showcase modern techniques and tools for community members to learn new farming innovations. Nearly 450 field days have been recorded, and the results are stunning:

Corn farmers reported that the following practices were adopted:

  • Line sowing, which helps farmers grow more crops, saw an increase of 56 percent, with 94 percent of farmers participating in the practice after training;
  • Modern weeding techniques swelled 17 percent, to 99 percent after training;
  • Using a crop calendar, which can help farmers keep production costs low, increased 37 percent, with 96 percent using a calendar after training;
  • and fertilizer use jumped 28 percent, to 92 percent after training.

With your support, the LEAD project also created farmer groups, helping them share resources, boost production and improve bargaining power to sell crops at market prices. In a country where few smallholder farmers are able to transition to commercial farming practices, farmer groups can help individual farmers access local, regional and national buyers. More than 8,000 groups have been formed.

Another key factor limiting access to markets for most smallholder farmers is capital. Without cash, farmers cannot gain access to modern seeds and chicks or pay for pesticides and immunizations. We are proud to share that more than 20,000 farmers have financed their businesses with small loans, totaling more than $8 million.

More specifically, 50 entrepreneurs from 12 regions received cumulative investments of $722,375 to support their ongoing businesses. Results show their income increased by 99 percent, their production by more than 50 percent, and that repayment rates are at 99 percent.

Access to cash and new techniques and technologies also paid off. While corn farmers, on average, cultivated slightly less land after receiving trainings, their average yield per acre actually increased 62 percent. The greater yield and better access to markets contributed to a growth of 131 percent in yield sold. Overall, corn farmers earned 78 percent more per farmer than prior to their trainings.

For poultry farmers, the results have been equally inspiring. On average:

  • the number of eggs produced in a month rose 161 percent;
  • the number of eggs sold skyrocketed 362 percent;
  • and the average amount of capital from selling eggs jumped 274 percent.

For poultry farmers, overall, yield and income increased 400 percent and, for corn farmers, 194 percent after involvement in the LEAD project.

Nowhere is this more evident than with Josia, a 40-year-old resident of Kihesa who was previously a carpenter before trying his hand at poultry farming.

Prior to joining the LEAD project, Josia produced roughly 500 chicks each month, despite owning an incubator capable of hatching 1,000 chicks. Due to outdated techniques and disease, many chicks would die, and he would end up with only 200 to bring to market.

After joining the LEAD project in February 2015, Josia received training in modern techniques, access to veterinarians trained by BRAC and took out a loan to expand his business.

With new incubators, access to vaccines and a variety of eggs, Josia began producing nearly 3,000 chicks a month, and lowered the number of chickens that were dying. This increased his income from $183 a month to more than $2,250. After demand skyrocketed, he bought another incubator, and now sells an average of 10,000 chicks a month.

With the growth in business, he has hired three employees to help manage the hatcheries, and he has built a house for his family.

Thank you for supporting Josia and farmers like him in the LEAD project. Together, we are improving the lives of thousands of smallholder farmers in Tanzania, one crop at a time.

A corn farmer in the LEAD program in Tanzania.
A corn farmer in the LEAD program in Tanzania.
Sophia, a rural corn farmer in Tanzania.
Sophia, a rural corn farmer in Tanzania.

As the Livelihood Enhancement through Agricultural Development (LEAD) project rounds out its third year, we are excited to share a more in-depth and comprehensive update. As a supporter of this program, we want you to know exactly what you’ve helped achieve.

The ultimate goal of the LEAD project is to improve the lives of more than 100,000 poor Tanzanians – the majority of whom are women – by targeting rural, smallholder farmers and livestock keepers. Here is our progress on that goal.

During the most recent reporting period, BRAC Tanzania found particular success with its strategy of utilizing group-based learning and organizing.

One key tactic has been to form organizations of farmers called producer groups to share technical information and improve the flow of goods to the market. Comprised of 10-15 farmers and led by an experienced farmer, groups determined the roles and responsibilities for their members independently. Besides improving market access, the groups also encouraged better adoption of new farming techniques by meeting each month to discuss challenges and opportunities.

This past quarter alone, a total of 528 poultry producer groups were organized, bringing the cumulative total to 96% against the overall project goal. For corn farmers, BRAC is at 98% of the project goal. In total, a whopping 1,190 producer groups were formed.

In addition, BRAC also relied on workshops to connect farmers with markets. At these workshops, farmers shared information about their product and learned about new farming supplies and services they could engage. Overall, 12 workshops were held.

Finally, LEAD organized Farmer Field Days to help train farmers and encourage the adoption of best practices and new technologies. The 21 separate Field Days included demonstrations by farmers to share information about their own successes with each other. Equally important, the Field Days also created a platform for farmers to buy and sell products at reasonable prices.

During this period, trainings on improved farming and poultry-keeping practices, including the Field Days, were completed for 98,427 farmers. This is 94% against the project goal – with more than a year still to go.

These are some of the successes BRAC has found with the LEAD project in Tanzania. Ultimately, the most important achievement is that, with your continued support, LEAD will meet its goal of increasing the household income of 78,000 corn and poultry farmers this year alone.

That includes farmers like Sophia (pictured). Sophia farms corn in Kikuyu, part of the Dodoma district in Tanzania, and she is one of the thousands of local, rural smallholder farmers who benefits from your donation. As Sophia’s income rises, so too does her access to better health care, education for her family, and so much more.

Thank you for supporting Sophia and thousands of Tanzanian farmers like her. When we all work together, we can achieve so much more.

Sophia, in her corn field in Kikuyu.
Sophia, in her corn field in Kikuyu.
Mgeni a livestock promotor in Tanzania
Mgeni a livestock promotor in Tanzania

The agriculture and livestock sectors in sub-Saharan Africa have remarkable potential to foster economic growth – especially in rural areas. But in order to take advantage of regional resources, countries like Tanzania need to equip local farmers with the skills and tools they need to be successful.

With your support, the Livelihoods Enhancement through Agriculture Development (LEAD) program, conducted in Tanzania, has increased farmers’ incomes by teaching them skills such as effective bargaining and confidence in their product through marketing. LEAD also trains the farmers in business tactics: they learn competitive negotiating skills and cost reduction strategies.  By organizing groups through which farmers can cultivate markets and contacts, as well as offering easier access to supplies and modern agriculture technology, many more families have become food secure. In just two years of operation LEAD has formed 5,027 farmers’ organizations for both maize and poultry.

The majority of the farmers participating in LEAD are women. Mgeni is an excellent example of one woman who benefited from a BRAC agriculture program. To start her poultry business, Mgeni took out 250,000 Tanzanian shillings (120 USD) from a BRAC microfinance program. Now, she makes between two and three million shillings monthly (960-1,440 USD) by supplying local shops with eggs; Mgeni is considering buying a car to expand her market even further. Her first small loan has allowed Mgeni to expand her business and apply for a BRAC Small Enterprise Loan (up to 30 million shillings or 14,400USD). Mgeni success story is one of many that will continue to inspire farmers like her to get involved with LEAD and start their own competitive business.

Thank you for donating to this project. As it receives more funding and support, BRAC looks to expand its agriculture programs in Tanzania and continue to train farmers to plant their crops efficiently and maximize outputs.

Grace is a farmer in BRAC
Grace is a farmer in BRAC's Agriculture project

BRAC takes an integrated approach to help people rise out of poverty and realize their potential. This is why BRAC has been developing an extensive agricultural network that invests in research and technology that could increase farming yields, and as a result empower farmers in Tanzania.  

BRAC has already established an effective method of production, distribution and marketing of quality seeds at reasonable prices and has created a system where poor farmers receive microcredit support. There are also numerous agricultural training programs provided to the farmers, such as the Vegetable and Kitchen Farmers program, where the farmers are provided with technical knowledge about producing simple crops in small pieces of land.

However, BRAC wants to go beyond its current success in Tanzania and develop a system where production is increased by expanding irrigation, there is greater access to quality fertilizers and pesticides, and larger investment in its agriculture research stations to develop disease-resistant seed varieties. The current activities along with BRAC’s plan to expand the project will target the problem of poor crop productivity in a more effective manner.  

Thank you for donating to support this work. As we look to catalyze agricultural innovation in Tanzania we appreciate your help in empowering our farmers! 

Rachel Chezari  Alison Wright 2014
Rachel Chezari Alison Wright 2014

Rachel Chezari is a maize farmer working in Dodoma, a city in the Ipagal district of Tanzania. Rachel is part of BRAC’s Livelihood Enhancement through Agricultural Development, or LEAD program. With the help of BRAC, Rachel makes about $450 a year, enough to support her three boys. She works in the maize fields and has been taught by BRAC how to use fertilizer to improve her crops and sell them at the market. Rachel is one of many entreprenuers trained and supported by BRAC with agriculture and livelihood training. Help more women like Rachel support their families and donate today!

Rachel and three boys  Alison Wright 2013
Rachel and three boys Alison Wright 2013
Fertilizer for crops  Alison Wright 2014
Fertilizer for crops Alison Wright 2014
Shucking corn  Alison Wright 2014
Shucking corn Alison Wright 2014

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Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Scott MacMillan
New York, NY United States

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