Send a Cow Ethiopia’s Programme Funding Officer, Jakob Brown, was recently invited to a Family Farming conference in Tanzania where he presented a case study of the Kotoba Sustainable Livelihoods Project. The project was implemented by Send a Cow Ethiopia, in collaboration with local partner AKAM with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, and ran from 2008 to 2012.

The conference, organised by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, was attended by 150 stakeholders, mainly from Tanzanian farmer organisations, as well as government representatives, NGOs and research institutions. The aim of the conference was to make a case for ecological agriculture and family farming in Tanzania and other African countries.

In Tanzania, as well as in many other African countries, including those where Send a Cow works, there is an increasing pressure by the GMO lobby and by seed production companies, often with the support of national governments, in favour of farming models characterised by monocultures, government subsidies –mainly for fertilizers, and large corporate agribusiness investment.

Conference participants recognized that Africa, considered by many to be the last frontier for large scale agribusiness investment, is at a crossroads: which agricultural models will be adopted by policy makers and which groups will benefit? In most cases smallholder farmers, like the ones Send a Cow works with, play a marginal role in these agricultural strategies and they rarely benefit from them at all.

Such strategies have brought disastrous social and economic consequences for smallholder farmers in India, especially during the years of the so called ‘Green Revolution’, as reported by Dr. Vandana Shiva, who also attended the conference.During his presentation, Jakob discussed a number of topics, ranging from sustainable organic agriculture and social development, to farmer-to-farmer learning and innovation techniques in farming.

We’re so pleased that Send a Cow Ethiopia was asked to present at the conference; it was a great opportunity to meet with fellow advocates of smallholder farmers and sustainable models of family farming.

Key findings from the Kotoba case study:

  • A health worker reported a 70% decrease in childhood diarrhoea cases recorded since the project began and attributed this to use of toilets and hand-washing facilities introduced by the project.
  • The average household income reported in the baseline survey was 679 Birr (35 USD) in male-headed households and 642 Birr (33 USD) in female-headed households. The survey at the end of the project found that participating households were earning incomes of 9,352 Birr in male-headed households (481 USD) and 8,356 Birr (429 USD) in female-headed households – around a thirteen-fold increase for families.
  • Natural resource management (soil, water, trees and land) was improved within the target communities. Achieved by promoting land reclamation and the regeneration of gullies, steep land, backyards, marginal land and boundaries.
  • Environmental clubs for unemployed youth to learn about conservation management were established.
  • Focus group discussion with women farmers said that growing vegetables had brought about positive changes in family diets and incomes as well as more effective land use.
  • Project members are proud to show off their gardens after increasing the diversity of crop varieties, leading to healthier diets & more effective land use.
You can download the full Kotoba case study from the AFSA website.