By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on February 26, 2021
At the end of 2020, Community Forests International was excited to announce the anticipated launch of the VIUNGO Project in Zanzibar. Translating to “ingredients” in Swahili, VIUNGO is a four-year collaborative effort between local and international organizations in the region. Community Forests and our partners are working to support small-scale farmers, empower women and youth, and boost economic growth and opportunity – key ingredients in a recipe for resilience! In this first update, we delve into the project’s work to empower small-scale farmers through climate-adaptive and market-savvy agriculture.
Adapting for resilience.
In 2020, the need for climate-resilient farming was made abundantly clear when many vulnerable island communities faced emergency food shortages. An estimated 7,000 people in Pemba suffered food shortages due to torrential rainfall in the planting season. These food shortages were further exacerbated by supply-chain blockages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, the VIUNGO Project has certified over 98 local Agriculture Extension Officers to teach a climate-smart horticulture curriculum to farmers across the islands. Through climate-adaptive agriculture techniques and practices, the VIUNGO Project will improve farming resilience to the effects of climate change while simultaneously strengthening their livelihood, income, and community food security. Over the past two months, the VIUNGO Project staff have registered farmers from over 50 shehias (communities) across Pemba and Unguja Islands to receive the curriculum. By the end of the first year, the newly certified Extension Officers hope to reach 4,200 farmers!
“The heavy rains this year affected me a lot in my rice farming, but I am thankful that my organic farming has given me so much and made me at least forget the pain of not doing well in rice harvest.”
– Kibano Omar Kibano
Bridging access to sustainable markets.
Though the Zanzibar islands were once one of the top spice trading regions in the world, environmental and economic pressures have pushed many farmers into unsustainable and high-risk mono-crop agriculture. The VIUNGO Project’s climate-smart curriculum offers a financially viable and incentivizing alternative by positioning farmers to access the growing market for sustainable, high-quality agricultural products — products including vanilla, cinnamon, and other spices. The VIUNGO Project is working to build bridges between small-scale farmers and external markets.
On one side, Community Forests and our partners are assisting in the creation of farmer-owned- and operated- cooperatives and associations to build sales and marketing capacity. These collectives allow farmers to access new and bigger markets, and to hold equitable decision-making power at the trade table. At the same time, VIUNGO is working to establish reliable and ethical trade opportunities for farmers through a network of regional and international export partners. These range from farmer representation at national trade shows to partnering with global buyers like Lush Cosmetics.
The VIUNGO Project is a collaborative effort between Community Forests International, Community Forests Pemba, the People’s Development Forum, and the Tanzania Media Women’s Association, with funding from the European Union in Tanzania.
To support the VIUNGO Project and the rest of Community Forests’ work for climate and communities in Zanzibar, become a donor today.
For more news from the VIUNGO Project, take a look at the ways we work to empower and elevate women and youth across Zanzibar in celebration of International Women’s Day.