Fostering Agricultural Resilience in Zanzibar: Abuu's Story

By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on November 16, 2023

On Pemba Island, Zanzibar, Abuu’s story unfolds as a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the transformative potential of sustainable farming practices. 

Abuu’s pivotal moment came with the support of Community Forests Pemba (CFP), which provided him with a vital water tank and a drip irrigation system. These assets not only sustained Abuu’s spices and vegetables during arid seasons but also paved the way for envisioning a future where his farm prospers amidst shifting climate conditions.

The inclusion of avocado seedlings further increased Abuu’s farm diversity. While the initial drip system faced operational challenges due to the limitations of a shallow well, Abuu made a strategic investment in a deeper and more sustainable water source. The completion of the drip system across his farm signifies progress towards enhanced efficiency and water conservation, marking a substantial stride towards climate-adaptive agriculture.

CFP played a pivotal role, contributing half of the funding for Abuu’s drip system and facilitating the acquisition of the water tank. This assistance, while transformative, underscores the financial constraints faced by Abuu. A former entrepreneur working in technology and motorcycles from South Africa and Mozambique, Abuu transitioned to farming a few years ago upon inheriting his father’s land. The ongoing challenge involves securing capital for growth, improvement, and expansion.

Through the eyes of a successful entrepreneur, Abuu sees his farm not merely as cultivated land but as a thriving business opportunity. He navigates market dynamics and fluctuations, and strategizes on enhancing market access—an amalgamation of entrepreneurial insight with a passion for sustainable agriculture.

For Abuu, farming transcends livelihood; it is a connection to Zanzibar’s ongoing legacy. The islands are not only known internationally as the Spice Islands but locally as “kisiwa harufu,” or “islands of aroma” because of the strong fragrance of cloves and other spices that fill the air even as you approach the island by boat. Abuu sees himself as a caretaker of this rich heritage. The aroma of cloves, historically embedded in the fabric of Zanzibar, is now an integral part of Abuu’s story—a narrative he is proud to embody.

In the early days, Abuu encountered scepticism when venturing into watermelon cultivation, a crop considered unconventional in Zanzibar. Undeterred, he embraced the challenge, learning online from an Internet cafe. This pioneering spirit, coupled with nearly a decade of farming experience, yielded results in more ways than one. Over nine years, his farming income has sustained his family and successfully built a family home.

Abuu’s journey encapsulates the ethos of sustainable farming—a harmonious engagement with nature, an entrepreneurial spirit, and an unwavering commitment to the cultural and Zanzibar’s agricultural heritage. As Abuu nurtures the fruits of his labour, he stands as a beacon, inspiring others to embrace the possibilities of sustainable and resilient agriculture.