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Knowledge sharing in East Africa

Knowledge sharing in East Africa
05/11/2015 Natasha Stein

Solar drying demonstrationMembers of our Kenyan partner REEP‘s Enterprise and Food Security Unit team recently undertook a knowledge exchange visit to Tanzania to learn about the benefits of solar drying as a livelihood and food security option for rural people.

The exchange was organised with our partners in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro Natural Foods Co-operative (KNFC) in Moshi and Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Consultancy Organisation (KWIECO) in Arusha.

The aim of the visit was to see if REEP could initiate similar work in their project area in Kenya, where fruit and vegetable production is key to sustainable livelihoods and food security. One of the main challenges in Kenya has been that during the rainfall seasons, markets are flooded by produce, driving prices down, whereas in the dry months, there is a shortage and people don’t grow enough to eat, let alone sell. Preservation of fruits and vegetables produced in the rainfall months, which could be sold in the drier months, would provide an effective solution to this problem.

Constructing a solar drier in Tanzania

The team learnt about the construction of solar driers and met local people who earn a livelihood through food processing and preservation. They saw how much the enterprises have had an impact on their lives, increasing their household income and significantly improving their socio-economic wellbeing.

During the visit, training was also provided on food processing, packaging and marketing, conducted by an officer from a government agency, Small Enterprise Development Organization, working under the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation in Tanzania. Dried fruits, once packaged and branded, are sold on at a higher resale price to supermarkets, hotels and pharmacies.

Two officers from the Ministry of Agriculture then took the participants through the process of cultivating ginger, including demonstrating a technique borrowed from Sri Lanka. It was evident that ginger as a product has a high demand within the East African market and beyond and there is a lot of potential for producing this in Kenya.

Ginger cultivation training

REEP staff also shared their experience of beekeeping and honey production with the Tanzanian organisations. The enthusiasm shown by the participants towards beekeeping was huge, and REEP will continue to share their vast experience in this area to help establish a project using modern hives and stinging bees in this area of Tanzania, which has the right climate and environment for beekeeping.

They met women’s support groups who are engaged in various individual enterprises including honey production using stingless bees, horticulture and sugarcane production. Collectively each of these groups is also running a successful micro-saving and loans scheme amongst their members. REEP were impressed with how well these schemes were run and will share their learning from these Tanzanian women’s groups with their groups in Kenya.

This kind of visit demonstrates how effective it can be to share learning and experience across our programmes – we have some genuine expertise in the field which can really help to create sustainable livelihoods and transform lives.

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