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Transforming the Lives of Women Farmers in Tanzania’s Avocado Growing Fields

An interview with Veronica Isaiya Mwaluleka, UWAMARU Amcos

The avocado growing business in Tanzania has gained great popularity in recent years, thanks to rising international demand. However, it is greatly dominated by men. There are few women in this sector, mainly because of the limited access women have to land.

Veronica Mwaluleka is one of the few women farmers who have broken this barrier. Veronica owns one acre of land where she plants avocados, and she is a member of Uwamaru Agriculture Marketing Cooperative Society (AMCOS).

Through MARKUP partner Solidaridad, the UWAMARU AMCOS project is targeting approximately 21,000 smallholder farmers on Zanzibar (horticulture), in Mbeya and Njombe regions (horticulture and tea), and in Ruvuma and Songwe regions (coffee) in Tanzania.

Q1. How did you venture into avocado farming?

Veronica: I come from an area where avocado was only recently introduced. And so, just like many of my fellow villagers, I joined one of the cooperatives, the UWAMARU AMCOS. I’m one of the very few women in the group. There are 45 women and 329 men in the project.

Q2. What are some of the challenges that you face as an avocado farmer?

Veronica: Women face challenges of land ownership. Most of the land is owned by men due to our culture where men are the heads of family. Men own most of the land, and therefore for women to grow produce such as avocadoes which require many acres of land.

Successful avocado farming needs certified, high-quality avocado seedlings. MARKUP provides us with seedlings through UWAMARU, together with the right type of fertiliser for avocados.

My big problem used to be having to sell my produce to middle men who purchase at very low prices. Thanks to the project, selling is now handled by UWAMAU AMCOS.

Q3. You said that MARKUP has assisted you in getting avocado seedlings. What else has MARKUP assisted you with?

Veronica: We buy our avocado seedlings using money from Uwamaru Amcos-Kitaru. We were trained how to do the grafting and how to prepare the ground for planting the seedlings. MARKUP also supplies us with pesticides, fertiliser and technology.

The MARKUP project enabled us to grow and harvest avocados that are not rejected by buyers because they fulfil the required standards.

I’m looking forward to selling my produce once we reach harvest time.

I have immensely benefitted from the MARKUP project and the technology that is offered to us. Because I work at UWAMARU AMCOS, I receive a steady income, which enables me to feed my family.