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Before participating in Village Business Forums (VBFs) organized by Farm Concern International (FCI), farmers in Sing’isi village, a few kilometres from Arusha, had no knowledge of how to transform their farming systems, secure their livelihoods and increase their earnings. Most of the farming activities were essentially informal and geared towards subsistence.

Although Sing’isi is a productive agricultural area, with soils rich in nutrients necessary for basic plant nutrition, most farmers had little knowledge of markets and consequently produced relatively low quantities of the vegetables that thrive in this region. Hence, the combination of low production and lack of access to markets tends to work against farmers’ efforts to increase their incomes.

During FCI’S commercialization campaigns in 2011, more than 100 farmers were registered in Sing’isi village. However, the task of forming Commercial Producer Groups (CPGs) was slowed down by farmers’ lack of market knowledge as well as their negative perceptions about working in groups.

During a forum organized by Juhudi CPG at Sing’isi Commercial Village in October 2011, three traders from Mbauda Market engaged the farmers on issues of quality, quantity and pricing of vegetables. The traders present were Ms.Yasinta Macha, Ms. Shamira Omary and Ms.Magreth Athanas.

After the VBF, it was noted that there was rapid adoption of improved farming and marketing practices and the formation of more CPGs. With increased and reliable volumes from the commercialization of vegetables, farmers have ceased selling their vegetables to traders after haphazardly picking from the farm. They are now packaging them into bags. This has motivated more traders and farmers in the village to come on board the FCI DoHoMa project. These days, most farmers believe that being a CPG member is advantageous in marketing their products and improves their lifestyles through increased production and consequently, increased incomes.

Once seen as the preserve of female farmers, vegetable farming has caught the attention of men who want to be part of the economic revolution either as farmers or traders. Since the first VBF, men have been motivated to produce vegetables and the notion that vegetables are essentially a “women only chore” has been wiped out.

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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.