Simoni Masisye, born, raised and life-long resident of Mahembe village, has been farming since he was a boy. He now owns six acres of land that he works with his wife and adult children. For most of his life, Simoni and his family have farmed some combination of maize, cassava, beans, and potatoes. He earned enough to get by, but he didn’t have enough to send all five of his children to school. He wants to create a better future for his grandchildren by earning enough to pay their school fees and providing them with a healthier, more nutritious diet. This is why Simoni decided to join Seed Change’s oil palm agroforestry initiative.
The oil palm agroforestry initiative provides smallholders with the seeds, seedlings, materials, training and support needed to sustainably manage a one-acre plot of fruit trees, vegetables, staple crops, and, of course, oil palm trees. Each plot has contour ditches dug into it to reduce erosion and a green boundary wall of nutrient-fixing trees to improve soil health, retain moisture and reduce wind erosion. The acre plot was designed in collaboration with agronomists and ecologists from Trees For the Future, who have worked on similar initiatives across Tanzania and East Africa since 2014.
By growing an oil palm agroforestry plot, Simoni is able to earn some money year-round, instead of just during just one or two harvests. He also earns significantly more than he would just growing oil palms as monoculture (a projected USD 1,130 in the first year), which don’t generate any income until their third year of farming. Simoni has already earned enough from harvests to help pay his grandchildren’s school fees and purchase a smartphone! In the coming months he will start to harvest from his market garden, which will earn him even more and provide his family with a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables.
We are thrilled to work with Simoni and are looking forward to engaging with more farmers in 2020 and beyond!