Life can change for small-scale farmers like Halima

In the field article written on the 06 Aug 2013

High in the mountains of Lushoto in northern Tanzania, life has been very hard for Halima Shabani. Feeding and sending her children to school has been a constant struggle as have been the long back-breaking days tending her fields. But with support of overseas aid, life is changing for Halima and her family.

Halima is one of thousands of small-scale farmers involved in a new Oxfam-funded project aiming to secure sustainable livelihoods for women like Halima. Livelihoods that mean her children can attend school regularly.

With eighty per cent of Tanzanians relying on agriculture, the vast majority are also living below the poverty line. In Lushoto, many families live on less than $2 per day. This is not because women like Halima don’t work hard, but because her gruelling labour on the land, and the four miles she treads to simply reach her field each day, was previously under-valued and poorly rewarded.

For Halima, change started with her decision to join an Oxfam project and start growing snow peas. Her crop has become a powerful symbol of a better life.

Ask our Government to do more to tackle global hunger by increasing our aid to support small-scale farmers.

Oxfam is working to develop alternative markets and provide bigger rewards to small-scale farmers in Tanzania. Snow peas are just the start and here’s how it works.

Within three days, snow peas harvested in Lushoto are on supermarket shelves in Belgium. In a globalised world, that may not sound surprising, but it’s revolutionary for the farmers of Lushoto. While far from being a silver-bullet, snow peas are connecting farmers to secure markets, and subsequently to better futures. The contrast with some other crops is stark.

In neighbouring fields, crops of peppers are being left to rot. When asked why they’ve not been harvested, the farmer’s response is resigned: “no market”. What’s different? In this Halima’s case markets have been identified and small-scale farmers like her are being given the information and support they need to switch crops.