Field Visit East Africa

Posted by Philippe Saner 1 30th Nov 2022

In November 2022 a joint visit by GIZ and the project team was conducted to meet the Cotton4Impact study sites in Tanzania and Zambia to discuss on current challenges and next steps.

Part I: Tanzania

On Monday, November 21st we kicked-off by a visit to the local GIZ office in Dar-Es-Salaam and were introduced to the Reproductive Production Landscapes (RPL) project that aims to build a regenerative production landscape in the Singida and Simiyu regions in Tanzania with an agricultural production ecosystem that conserves natural resources and builds climate-resilient communities whilst enabling businesses to source responsibly.

Gin_red Picture: Aerial view of the AGL TZN Gin at Kasoli village, Bariadi district, Simiyu region, Tanzania

On Tuesday, November 22nd the current status of Cotton4Impact was presented at Alliance Ginneries Ltd, Kasoli village, Bariadi district, Simiyu region, Tanzania. On this occasion we also got the opportunity to meet partners engaged in other projects of the Sub-Saharan Cotton Initiative and exchange on learnings of their own digitalisation journey. How could we best support the needs of the farmers to receive inputs for cotton production on time? How to get up to date information about weather conditions and better access to training material for good agricultural practices? How can we ensure traceability of the cotton that we source across an entire landscape from thousands of smallholder farmers?

DSC_0720_red Picture: Discussion of digital application deployment

Over the course of the next two days we visited organic farmers to discuss their challenges in the field and explore how they can benefit from the development of the application. We were also shown various ongoing CSR projects that cover social and environmental aspects across the cotton production landscape. My personal highlight was the visit of a primary school where we distributed footballs, frisbees and Swiss chocolate to the excitement of the students. In return we learnt about their great tree planting efforts on site at the school and even got the chance to plant our personal VIP trees. Let us imagine a future where schools start their own seedling nursery and children take trees back home to nurse at the family farms to support afforestation efforts across an entire landscape.

DJI_0426_red DSC_0999_red Picture (left): A drone performance given to students at their school Picture (right): VIP tree planting at the school

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Ogola Boaz (General Manager) and his entire team for hosting us during our stay at Alliance Ginneries Ltd Tanzania.

A brief visit to the Montessori school in Mwanza and their newly built computer room was a perfect outlook to our digitalisation journey in Tanzania. Despite the challenges of the pandemic digitalisation doesn’t take a halt and we look optimistically into the future for the generations to come.

Part II: Zambia On Saturday, November 26th a joint meeting at Alliance Ginneries Ltd Zambia in Kafue town was held to jointly discuss the status of the Cotton4Impact project and the various ongoing CSR projects with a special focus on gender equality and women with staff on-site.

In the afternoon we were introduced to the industrial processing of roller-ginned cotton and the soy solvent extraction plant. Cotton is grown in rotation and in competition with other agricultural crops such as soy, a leguminose that helps to maintain soil fertility through its symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacterias. It is therefore important to understand the market access and potential of all crops that are produced within the production landscape.

DSC_0201_red Picture (from left to right): Philippe Saner (Paul Reinhart AG), John Tembo (Alliance Ginneries Ltd), Beatrice Haller (GIZ Germany), Ashfaque Taj (Alliance Ginneries Ltd), and the external consultant (Matthias)

Alliance Ginneries sources conventionally produced cotton from the Central, Eastern and Southern province. In addition, the Lusaka province is currently under certification for organic cotton production, the districts are Chongwe (close to Lusaka), Rufunsa und Luangwa (close to Lower Zambezi National Park).

The rural set up in Zambia is characterised by farmers that are spread over large distances. Mobile connectivity remains a challenge, despite the fact that most farmers own a feature phone and some of them even smart phones. Hence, the purpose of the following two day field visit was to better understand the challenges and requirements of improving communication to the farmers through personal interaction and interviews with relevant stakeholders.

DSC_0339_red Picture: Interview with female cotton farmers that are organized in a women group

Land tenure in Zambia is under a customary tenure, where farmland cannot be bought or sold and by law has no monetary law. The head chiefs of the districts decide how to allocate land. The concern is that under such a system a farmer has little incentive to perform sustainable (agroecological) land practices, as she is not the title holder of the land.

DSC_0267_red Picture: View on Luangwa river

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. John Tembo (General Manager) and his entire team for hosting us during our stay at Alliance Ginneries Ltd Zambia.

In summary, it was reassuring to hear from first-hand that there is a need for improved communication, including weather forecast and recommendations of good agricultural practice that reduce the amount of inputs and at the same time support higher cotton yields.