Hundreds of acres of land open up to cultivation in a village in Northern Tanzania
Published on 29 December 2010

Copyright: WFP/Tanzania

Mvungwe Village only cultivated land along the Pangani River bank making only subsistence farming possible. Under WFP's Food for Assets Programme, in exchange for food, villagers dug 12 km of irrigation canal. This opened up all kinds of possibilities! Each acre of farmland now yields 10-15 bags of maize, up from 1-2 bags before the canal work.

Farmer and Grain Miller Mazuwa Mwambashi tells his story:

"Even if you found a good harvest, the market was far away"

"Long ago, we heard people were working these farms close to the river, and some of us decided to come and do the same. There was water, but really the only time you could bring it into the fields was when it rained and the river became high. The traditional dams we built were washed away, and only the riverbanks could be planted. Even if you found a good harvest, the market was far away, there was no road, only tracks for bicycles, the milling machine was more than 40kilometres away. When the traders came here once a week, the price they gave was so low.

Mazuwa Mwambashi standing in a field

The Food for Asset programme

Then the food for asset programme came here and asked us if we needed food, of course we said yes. They asked us what we can build here to ease our lives, in return for the food. Everyone agreed to dig the canals. Now it is as if we live in a completely different place. Because the river always flows, it doesn’t matter that the rains are becoming erratic. We can always bring water to our fields, even far from the riverbank.  I have taken tea already before work this morning from one of the new little shops in the village, the children in the kindergarten are given porridge, they have so much energy now. Look at people’s houses: I have built a four-room house with an iron roof. We have plans for a primary school and a health centre. 

Now I own 10 acres of farmland, I am growing not just to feed my family, but also crops for market like onions, tomatoes, watermelons. I have a milling machine in the village, and because the road has been repaired, either we use our new motorbikes to take produce to town, or the traders come here, and the price is high. Some people have even 20 acres . It’s too much for me to cultivate by hand, but I am very ambitious - soon I will have a tractor and I can grow even more. Yes, we have worked hard, but all of this has come only because we built that canal. For four years, other villages nearby have needed food aid from the government. We need nothing, all we require we are able to find for ourselves." Read More