I am Ombeni Hingi, from Tanzania, an MSc. Tropical Forestry and Management student at TU Dresden in Germany. I am doing my master thesis research on “Smallholder Farmers, Support Organizations, Their Linkages and Influence on Woodlots Development in Mufindi District, Tanzania”. The thesis is integrated under the WoodCluster project.
There is a strong struggle for smallholder’s woodlots to keep pace, especially in the southern highland regions of Tanzania including Mufindi district. As such, smallholder woodlots are becoming the major source of wood supply for construction and energy in the country.
Different organizations have supported these progresses in Mufindi district. However, despite these progresses limited studies existed about smallholder woodlots, supporting organizations and their linkages that probably influenced woodlots performances. Thus, this became my motivation to carry out the present study.
Therefore, the present study will examine farmer’s motivations, knowledge base, current woodlots performance, map both tradeable and non-tradeable woodlot products and assess challenges constraining woodlot farmers. Moreover, this study will assess the woodlot farmers and their support organizations, describing their linkages in relation to their woodlot performance.
Analyzing woodlot farmers’ motivations, knowledge base and performance is important to understand the current drivers of increased woodlot establishment. Address the farmers’ woodlots farming knowledge gaps while assessing the performance is vital to improve the farmers woodlot product quality for improved market, farmers income and sustainable woodlot development. On the virtual of support organizations, the study will determine which aspects of woodlots developments have been adequately addressed by these organizations and which aspects are unaddressed including lessons learnt for management of strengths and entry points for future organizational supports.
The results from the entire study are expected to fill the gap of such missing information and contribute as a road map to government and private planners, policy and decision makers on how smallholders can be organized and supported. It can significantly contribute to the supply of wood materials to reduce the country supply gap that in 2015 was reported to stand at 19.5 million m3 per year. Improved woodlots farming will improve farmers’ incomes, reduce poverty and contribute generally to development of the rural people. In addition, the study will contribute as baseline information for further studies.
It was a pleasure to be in Mufindi district, Tanzania for my study data collection. Fortunately, most people were welcoming, friendly and were open minded such that they were able to respond to all questions included in my questionnaires as well as effectively participated in focused group discussions.
In addition, there were no need for language translation as everyone could speak Kiswahili as a national language and all interviews and group discussions were held in Kiswahili.
The difficulty task was woodlots assessments by rapid appraisal (RA) approach that required physical visit to the woodlot site. This was because firstly; some woodlots were allocated far away from settlements in the village and randomly scattered in different directions. And secondly; it was rain season, such that some woodlot roads were hardly accessible. However, it could be managed by the positive cooperation of the woodlot farmers. Finally, everything went quite well and the required 72 woodlots in 3 villages (Mninga, Igowole and Nundwe) were assessed. RA task involved direct observation and assessment that ranked the performance as good or poor by scores bas
On top of tree planting I observed, farmers integrating crop farming in their woodlots especially during the first 1 to 3 years of tree growth. While some woodlot farmers engage in bee keeping in stands older than 4 years to the harvesting time which differs normally from 10 years for Pines spp. and from 5 years for Eucalyptus spp. This practice seemed important strategy to ensure food security and give farmers income source to meet basic needs while waiting for woodlot trees maturity
Nevertheless, a few woodlots farmers expressed some of the challenges that seemed new to have been observed. For example, a disease condition in Eucalyptus (at Igowole) and some vermin monkeys that cut and feed on the growth tips in Pines (at Igowole and Mninga villages). Farmers argued that they believe researchers may come up with solutions to resolve their challenges.
Finally, I would express my sincere thanks to Dr. Felister Mombo (SUA WoodCluster project coordinator), Ms. Maxi Domke (TU Dresden WoodCluster project coordinator), Mr. John Kallabaka and Mr. Piere Protas (MSc students at SUA under WoodCluster project) for their cooperation in suitable study villages selection and getting in contacts with the local administration in the study area which made logistics much easier. My thesis is supervised by Dr. Eckhard Auch from TU Dresden – Germany and co-supervised by Prof. Yonica Ngaga from Sokoine University of Agriculture – Morogoro, Tanzania.
Special thanks to DAAD and my Supervisors.
By Ombeni Hingi.