For a long time, Abraham Pote worked as a casual labourer on farms around his community in Vudee on the slopes of the Pare Mountains in Tanzania. The 45-year-old earned between Tsh1,500-Tsh2,000 a day for his efforts, which earnings he used to buy the basic necessities for his family. That, however, was not enough to cover all the requirements.
Desperate to supplement his income, the father of four ventured into brick-making, for whoever was in need of material to construct a house. This tedious work requires one to wake up at dawn in order to rack up a high number of bricks and earn a decent wage. For each brick made, Abraham earned Tsh20. He made up to 300 bricks a day, which earned him Tsh6,000.
Although this was an upgrade from the wages as a casual labourer, Abraham frequently had to bargain for food on credit from the shops. The manual labour just was not cutting it for him. He needed to be able to provide frequent meals for his wife and children. Agriculture seemed the logical answer to his problems. He figured, with this, he would provide enough food for his family and have some left over for sale.
While he owned plenty of land, he lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to make it productive. This didn’t stop him from trying. He bought seeds from any supplier ignorant of quality differences. Soon, he planted onions using traditional methods of farming and waited on the rains to bail him out. Needless to say, his harvest was nothing to write home about. He reaped 3 bags of onions from one acre of land.
Perhaps 2013 can be described as Abraham’s turning point. He was selected as one of more than 60 Champion Farmers from Same, a semi arid district in the Kilimanjaro region.
With training from GWI EA, Abraham learnt techniques such as double digging, cover cropping, mixed cropping and bench terracing, which enabled him practice water and soil conservation and produce higher yields. Armed with these new skills, Abraham gave onions a second go and produced 20 bags worth Tsh2m (USD 1,205) from half an acre of land.
From these earnings, he was able to pay school fees for his children and also purchase a truck of manure for his farm. In addition, he paid for the connection of electricity to his house.
Today, Abraham is a role model to other farmers in the village. They visit his garden regularly for continual lessons and have adopted his methods.
GWI EA, Uganda