Anna (35) and Charles Amuri (42) are a married couple who live in Chilimba village in Masasi District in rural southern Tanzania. They have three children, two boys and girl. “We are smallholder farmers” says Mrs. Amuri, “We joined Pathways initiatives in 2013 and through that we were able to be a part of groups were we learnt about sustainable agriculture, village saving and loan schemes as well as acquiring entrepreneurship skills.”
The family holds 20 acres of land, but they cultivate only 12 because of their limited capacity to manage the farm. Even before joining the program, the couple cultivated crops such as cassava, maize, sesame, green pea and pigeon peas. However, they attest that compared to what they are producing now, they were harvests were quite low. “The harvest averaged at less than 400kg of cassava per acre, maize was around 120kg/acre. The season before we started using the recommended practices we harvested 32kg of sesame and 40kg of green peas, each from an acre of land.” At the time, they were harvesting enough to feed the family and locally sold what was left for a small income. But after seeing other farmers in their villages boasting of more crop yields they decided to try for themselves, and good thing they did! In the last season they harvested 2 tons of maize from 2.5acres of land, averaging at around 800kg/acre. They bagged 1.5tons of green peas from 2.5 acres and their sesame harvest averaged at just under 400kg/acre.
In response to the question over what they have done with the money generated from the sale of the surplus from their farm last season, they told us how they link their profits into the VSLA system, “We are now actively engaged in the village saving and loan schemes” says Charles, “this is my third year and I have already received two divisions of 380,000Tsh each round. When got the money I went back home and discussed with my wife on how to spend the money, and together we agreed to renovate our house by changing from the thatched roof to iron sheet roofing, we also talked about cementing the walls and that is exactly what we did.”
Anna added with a wide smile, “Something else that has changed is the weight of my input when it comes to spending the money we make together, I feel my voice is louder now. My husband also assists me with home tasks such as cleaning the house… mainly sweeping and mopping. Sometimes he helps me wash clothes and even in cooking!” she finishes with a loud laugh.
In response to this, Charles says that, “we are all humans, we all get tired and need assistance so, I feel I play my role to support my wife.”
Contributed by Donath Fungu, Deputy Program Coordinator- Pathways, Tanzania