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The Farmers' Dialogue has grown out of the commitment of working farmers' in many countries on all continents who have found a new purpose through Initiatives of Change.
They have been wrestling with the problems facing our planet. This is resulting in them being involved in many of the issues of their day, be it the European Union, developing the Dairy Industry in Asia, farming in Africa or developments in Eastern Europe.
Half the world sees farmers as a beleaguered minority, the other half as a huge majority struggling for a voice. Despite great differences of circumstance and climate, there is a common language between people who work the soil.
Since the early 90's we have seen the benefit of arranging what are known as Farmers' Dialogues'. These are aimed at creating a common purpose based on shared values for the soil, environment and family life.
Farmers Dialogue – Muheza Tanzania April 2010
80 farmers, mostly women, met in Muheza, situated in the North-East of Tanzania, from April 27-28 2010, invited by the Farmers' dialogue local team. The District Commissioner opened the meeting, with the Director of the Agricultural District Services and the Chairman of the Council of Muheza.. They showed a real interest and attention to the farmers, their problems and the challenges they face in terms of agricultural development. Some farmers had brought with them some samples of their work as a way to show their efforts of diversification and food-processing, mostly done in the framework of farmers’ groups.
These 2 aspects – the support of the authorities and the dynamism of the farmers – are very encouraging if one thinks of the challenge to feed people. Claude Bourdin, French coordinator of the International Farmers Dialogue underlined it, mentioning that Tanzania would see its population grow from 40 million inhabitants to over 100 million in 40 years time. Who else than the farmers will produce the food needed?
The other big challenge which he mentioned was the ability of each farmer to take the decisions and the commitment at the level of the needs. “What will be different, after this meeting, for each one, in one’s life, one’s relationships, one’s way of working on the farm ... to contribute to the effort of food production in Tanzania?” One farmer had already decided to start a small activity of fish-farming, and another to plant trees.
The farmers were invited the following day to come for farm visits: to look at concrete examples of individual and group initiatives in order to improve production, increase the income, find new markets and stimulate decisions.
These 2 days illustrated how individual commitments, well supported by the right policies, can transform the lives of the farmers and their families, and at the same time contribute to a global rural development and better food autonomy.
'Farmers Dialogue' Hosted By Tanzania November 2006
In November, Buhuri Livestock Institute in Tanga, Tanzania, was the venue for a Farmers’ Dialogue hosted by East Africans. The conference was opened by Dr Joseph Lykurwa on behalf of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Livestock and was attended by 77 people, mostly farmers, from 11 countries. The event caught the attention of the National media with items on TV and in the papers.
The delegates discussed the challenges that lie ahead for society and considered what needs to be done by 2050:
The evidence produced during the conference and the farm visits demonstrated that the small farmers in the tropics can provide the highest production per acre, use little or no chemicals, use minimum amounts of non renewable energy, one of the biggest challenges being to provide a reliable sources of water through times of drought and protect land in time of flooding.
Discussions on a range of topics included how rural development can be enhanced; development of small holder coffee growers; food for all; water; energy; climate change; value added products and marketing; farmer-to-farmer extension; perspectives Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Gambia, Uganda, France, Netherlands, Switzerland and Kenya.
Running through the event was the theme of how to create the will to meet these challenges and where to turn for inspiration when life is tough.
Following the conference, three days of farm visits took us to see milk processors large and small, milk collection groups run by farmers, rice growing, women’s groups, organic farms, and a tour of Buhuri and Tengeru Livestock Institutes near Arusha.
Juliana Swai works with 35 farmers groups near Tanga in Tanzania. A number of these groups consist of single women, often alone and poverty stricken, with their children not in school, with inadequate food and without access to healthcare.
Her approach is to give each farmer training in dairy cattle management, and then they are given a pregnant heifer, on the unders- tanding that the first heifer calf born will be given to another farmer to help them make a new start in life.
The teamwork among members in their Pcommunity helps improve their living conditions.
Organized visits to farms and meeting with farmers in north and south from different backgrounds, and with scientists and offi- cials, has enabled them to discover new far- ming methods.
Farmers’ Dialogues have provided valuable assistance. An international group that came to a meeting in Tanzania in 2004 visited two farmers Juliana was working with. These farmers were very encouraged by the in- terest shown in their work and as a result redoubled their efforts.
They increased their income, which allowed them to pay school fees for their children, build better housing and improve the quality of their diet. Encouraged by their success, others have joined their group. Juliana calls her work Women’s initiati- ves for change.
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'