How do you learn what healthy eating means? By growing your own food. In 2018, SWISSAID Tanzania, in partnership with local organisations, launched “School Clubs”: agroecological gardens were set up at four secondary schools. Halima and Hamza go to the Mtandi Secondary School in the community of Masasi and report here on their experiences.
Agriculture plays a central role in the Tanzanian economy and society. According to official figures, agriculture accounts for 75% of jobs outside the cities and 25% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The project aims to promote agroecological cultivation methods and in this way improve the livelihoods of small farming families for the long term. Particular attention is paid to supporting poorer farmers, women and young people.
Halima Selemani (14): “My parents have a small farm and produce corn, chickpeas, sunflowers and cashew nuts. They don’t plant vegetables, but spend a lot of money on buying them at the market. Sometimes that means we don’t have the money for something else, for example for the bus ride to school. But the School Club has made things much better: I now know how to plant a garden and grow vegetables according to agroecological principles. At home, my parents and I have created a small garden and planted Chinese cabbage, okra, sweet potatoes and amaranth. We grow enough that I can sell some to the neighbours and earn some money. I have also shown some of the neighbours how to plant a garden. Now they are growing organic vegetables, too. My favourite vegetable from the school garden? Definitely Chinese cabbage.”
Hamza Akram (15): “My father is a teacher, my mother a smallholder. I live with them and my siblings Mudathir (4) and Johary (6) in Masasi. In the past we did not grow vegetables. Two years ago my grandmother was ill and had to go to hospital because of her anaemia. When she was discharged, the doctor advised us to eat more vegetables. So I wanted to plant a garden at home and make sure that my family ate a balanced diet. I learned a lot through the School Club. My mother and I planted an agroecological garden at home, with amaranth, tomato, aubergine and sweet potato. Now we always have enough food. What I like best of all is a dish made from amaranth leaves. My wish for the future? I would like to have an orchard with all kinds of fruit trees.”