Tanzanian farmers get to grips with HCV

Over the past three months, Seed Change Tanzania has field tested the simplified HCV approach for smallholders with a group of farmers growing oil palm in a village in Kigoma region, western Tanzania. Beatrice Fuchs, Policy and Strategy Director, explains: "RSPO and HCV are foreign concepts to farmers in East Africa where we work. Our workshop series focused heavily on the direct benefits farmers receive from correct environmental management practices."

Beatrice reports that the approach has been well received by both farmers and local government officials who took part in the workshops, which are a key part of the simplified HCV approach. Farmers have readily engaged with Seed Change's Community Development Officer and contributed indigenous ecological knowledge.

Villagers participating in the workshops focused on their need to keep water sources clean and keep food and other basic resources intact. Cultural sites (equivalent to HCV 6) were acknowledged but participants placed less emphasis on this as villages regulate these collective areas already. A key activity throughout the workshops was sharing of village history, which was the starting point for many discussions.

In August, participating farmers began a self-verification process. In future, monthly meetings will be held to check in on farmers’ adherence to the precautionary practices they developed during the workshops to manage the HCVs identified.

After the success of this trial, Seed Change plan to expand the training series to all of the farmers and villages where they work in the near future, and have applied for funding to support this project.

For more details on farming in Kigoma, see www.seedchangetanzania.org.

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