Women Farmers In Tanzania Get Ahead With Fishponds And Irrigation Canals
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Published on 20 June 2013

Fortunata and her child at home in Ameru, Kilimanjaro region. Copyright: WFP/Jen Kunz.

Fortunata is a single mother of four living in Ameru, a small village in the Hai district of northwest Tanzania. High food prices and her community's dependence on agriculture in a region where rainfall is irregular and droughts are severe meant it was a daily struggle for Fortunata to feed her family.

Fortunata's one-and-a-half acre plot yielded green beans, but the lack of water was a constant obstacle.

In September 2011, WFP started working with more than 100 farmers in Hai to rehabilitate 35 kilometers of irrigation canals and build six community fish ponds. Farmers completed the construction in return for rations of rice, maize and oil for each day they worked. The food received was enough for families to live on for approximately five months, and the projects helped members of the community diversify their crop production.

“Before these projects, we only harvested rice and maize twice a year. Now that our fields are getting water, we harvest many different crops all year round,” said Fortunata. “I produce enough rice and vegetables that I can feed my family, and sell some in the market.”

Fortunata is also one of 30 women who were chosen to manage the six community fish ponds for farming tilapia, one of the most commonly eaten fish in Tanzania and one that is indigenous to the region. One harvest provided the women’s families with much-needed variation in their diets and with enough fish to sell for a small profit.

“The income from selling the fish is put back into the project,” explains Fortunata. “Before, we rarely ate meat or fish as the prices are so high. Now we can grow our own.”

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About the author

Seetashma Thapa

Public Information Officer

Seetashma Thapa joined the Public Information Unit of WFP Tanzania in May 2012 as a Public Information Officer.