Our Director Tricia Barnett reports on our pilot project in Tanzania
The Northern Circuit in Tanzania is the region stretching from Kilimanjaro in the East to Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater in the West. It is a key tourism attraction area for the country and it hosts over 240 hotels and lodges. The rich, volcanic soil in the region is farmed by thousands of women living in this beautiful environment. They grow a wide variety of vegetables and fruit – and then compete with each other to sell in the local markets. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) report that most people living in rural areas of Tanzania remain extremely poor. The agricultural sector, composed of a majority of smallholders, is still in need of investment and modernization. The average per capita income stands at US$ 600.66 (World Bank.a 2014).
Interestingly, the farmers have no direct link to the hotels and lodges and are not integrated into the supply chain.
Following extensive research, Equality in Tourism has now completed the first stage of a pilot project to bring together all prospective partners that can work together to open up this market for the farmers. By establishing a farmers’ cooperative, supported by microfinance, there is an opportunity to transform the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of women farmers. The hotels will benefit through the purchase of fresher, cheaper produce that will also give them stronger and healthier connections to the local communities. The whole project is framed by and embedded in women’s empowerment.
A successful two day workshop for the prospective partners was held by Equality in Tourism in the region at the end of June 2016. The overall objective agreed by the participants was to create sustainable linkages and partnerships in the Kilimanjaro region for a pilot project that will enable women farmers to supply hotels with the produce they need. The workshop resulted in unanimous agreement to do this and has now created a task force to help take the project forward. The action plan produced by the workshop focuses on mobilisation, finance, co-operative development, training and empowerment. The project is titled: Empowering Farming Women through Tourism.
Equality in Tourism’s role is to light the pilot light, helping to set indicators for the project. We then hope to be involved in its monitoring and evaluation as we will learn lessons that can be shared with our associates and networks around the world.
We are now seeking funding for the project which will open up opportunities for thousands of women farmers, currently marginalised by tourism, to benefit from it.