Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tackling inequality in Zeze village with sustainable agriculture

Building rural livelihoods and eliminating poverty in Tanzania...

I met Benedicto Hosea by chance. A well wisher from England who he'd met online had been so impressed with his drive to improve life in his village she'd asked me to take out a camera to him.

When we met he talked with such passion and knowledge about the youth organisation he had set up in his village of Zeze I was convinced to take a one day detour along dusty, potholed roads to take a look.

Benedicto is the first in his family to go to secondary school, let alone university. When he finished his degree in in November he returned to Zeze and set up an organisation  to counter its poverty and malnutrition.  Mboni ya Vijana (it means "the eyes of youth" in Swahili) is small but committed and growing month by month.  Its members who pay monthly subscriptions of 5000 shillings (about £1.50) to buy bulk seeds and farming equipment . Even this modest amount is often a struggle for these subsistence farmers and they have to sometimes borrow from each other.  They are worried about the costs but excited about the possibilities.  

Even with this small capital they are transforming lives.  Changing practices have doubled maize yields,  growing the nutritional wonder plant Moringa will bring in 4 times their current income.  This means children will be able to go to school, needed medicine bought and villages won't go to bed hungry so often.  

They have big plans: bee hives, a cassava processor,  pumping water from a nearby stream in the dry season,  all meticulously researched and costed. Benedicto lives in a village without electricity but every night he walks through the rural darkness with his laptop to find a neighbour with charge from a solar panel or generator. He works from 2am, when the mobile signal is strongest. Discussing best irrigation techniques with farmers from El Salvador,  negotiating prices with moringa processors, and planning....

Next week they are holding their training camp in Zeze to keep spreading the word..

With 40% of Tanzanian children stunted by malnutrition,  it's a timely message.

MVG are new to social media so please like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.  You can hear Benedicto explain his ideas here.  If you would like to invest in them please email me at