Nane Nane Day : Farmer’s exhibition week in Tanzania

Nane Nane Day (August 8th) is an annual celebration that recognizes the important contribution of farmers to the national Tanzanian economy. A one-week fair, the Agricultural Exhibition, took place in various locations in Tanzania, where farmers and other agricultural stakeholders were put in the spotlight, providing them an opportunity to share their concrete activities and inputs on the agricultural sector with the general public. More broadly, it enabled awareness-raising to the policy makers, community, and other stakeholders on the contribution of Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS) and availability of seeds in the country.

At this occasion, SWISSAID-Tanzania organized a seed and local/traditional food fair in collaboration with TABIO (local partner) in Lindi with the following objectives: to sensitize community and stakeholders to explore the contribution of local seeds to agenda 10/30[1] and commercialization of FMSS; to increase community awareness on the potentials and importance of Negleted and Underutilized Species (NUS) and the use of indigenous/local seeds in Tanzania; to raise community awareness on the contribution of Community Seed Banks (CSB) to reduce extinction of local seeds in Tanzania; to map the existence of the seeds available in the region, characteristics, and their management practices; to host cooking demonstration of different dishes using the 9 NUS products; and to facilitate farmers seeds exchange and knowledge sharing.

The event brought together 311 participants in total, which comprised of different stakeholders, including farmers, extension officers, governmental officials, nutritionists, members of parliament and representatives from organizations supporting farmer managed seeds. The day started with a remarkable arrival at the venue whereby farmers carried the posters with messages urging stakeholders to recognize and promote farmer managed seeds. More than 200 farmers shared around 60 indigenous varieties and their local management practices and the value they hold in their culture and traditions. Upon arrival of guests, farmers shared the importance and contribution of the seeds they brought in food and nutrition security and cultural identity.

As mentioned, key focus of this specific event was on the farmers themselves as it gave them a space to share their stories regarding farmer managed seeds in their farming journey. The wide varieties of activities brought together knowledge around seed systems from and for the farmers themselves, ranging from a panel discussion, where the agenda 10/30 was discussed by a group of speakers (a farmer, a member of parliament and three implementation staff members from SWISSAID-Tanzania), to the facilitated seed exchange (infrastructure and visibility). Participation of the representatives from the ministry of agriculture, and the members of parliament was a significant value-add since they had the opportunities to hear the farmers’ voice regarding the Farmer Managed Seed Systems, its challenges and potentials. It was also a great opportunity to present to key representatives that seed exchange is the core reason why farmers still have their indigenous seeds for decades.

I am using indigenous seeds I inherited from my parents and grandparents which are more resistant to pest and diseases and their produce has good taste compared to the improved ones. I also farm agroecologically applying indigenous knowledge I learnt from my parents and those acquired through trainings from SWISSAID.”
(Testimony of a farmer from Mtwara, August 2022)

Regarding the topic of seed exchange, one of the key achievements of this event is the launch of the modal Community Seed Bank (CSB). Community seed banks are locally governed and managed, collective-action institutions, whose core function is to maintain seeds for local use. They have been designed to conserve, restore, revitalize, strengthen, and improve plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. As a part of the CROPS4HD project, SWISSAID-Tanzania set up a modal CSB that will be used as a reference by farmers and other stakeholders during the establishment of the other community seed banks with the beneficiaries. It serves as a replicable structure to be built easily with affordable tools and raw materials available in the local area. With a modal CSB, all farmers can reach out to the bank and see the developed structure meant for seeds collection, storage, and viability maintenances. The launch was done by the guest of honour, Late Beatus Malema (Assistant Director for Crop promotion, agricultural inputs and cooperatives), accompanied by the members of parliament, the SWISSAID-Tanzania country representative and staff, and farmer representatives.

Directly listen to the comments, feedback and suggestions that Hon. Neema Lugangira (member of Parliament, Special Seats) shared during her participation in this seed and local/traditional food fair in this following video:

[1] Agenda 10/30 is an initiative aiming to achieve an impressive 10% annual growth for the agricultural sector by 2030.