Sustainability Spotlight shines on the Tanzania Gatsby Trust

In a venture to eliminate poverty in East African countries, the Tanzania Gatsby Trust (TGT) has implemented sustainable economic development programs to people’s quality of life in the region while keeping an eye on the environment.  Already TGT has several programs in place utilizing conservation farming methods, sustainable forestry and a “push-pull” method of agriculture that doesn’t use pesticides.  They are also now looking into ways to provide water access to regions experiencing severe drought.

With poor, recycled seed, poor soil and little to no training in farming methods, Tanzanian farmers struggled to make ends meet with their number one crop, cotton.  Delegates from TGT spent three years researching agriculture techniques practiced by these farming communities hoping to give these farmers a brighter future.

In the cotton farming industry, in general, pesticides and herbicides are used in heavy quantities.  TGT admits to using these products but has developed a method called “push-pull” farming that is replacing older forms of environmentally destructive methods of insect and weed removal.  With this “push-pull” method, natural plants are used to attract insects away from valuable crops.  Also natural predators to certain crop destroying animals are introduced to cut down on damage.  TGT calls this a “model for Africa’s green revolution.”

Cotton farmers have also been introduced to conservation agriculture, a way to plow rather than till soil which decreases soil erosion and creates an ideal environment for better crop yield.  Rather than plowing fields using expensive and gas guzzling tractors, farmers use animals to plow.  This alleviates expense on their part but also reduces their carbon footprint.  Farmers are also encouraged to rotate crops, replacing cotton with corn when the season is right.  Crop rotation encourages soil health rather than depleting the same nutrients caused when the same plants are continually planted in the same secitons of field.

Animals sometimes free-graze on farmer’s crops and so TGT encouraged the implementation of “living fences” around cotton and corn crops.  These living fences can be plants such as jatropha, which has seeds containing a high oil yield used, in turn, as soaps and even biofuel.   This idea gives Tanzanian farmers extra money with little to no work involved in the plant’s growth.

TGT also deals in sustainable forestry methods.  Many African foresters are desperate for money so they destroy forest ecosystems in search of valuable wood to be chopped down and shipped all over the world.  TGT has encouraged the replantation of trees and sustainable forestry methods in East Africa, saving the forests but also supplying a livelihood for people involved in the TGT forestry initiative while also fostering competition in an industry dominated by ecologically harmful techniques.

A serious problem in the Lushoto district in northeast Tanzania is availability of water.  TGT is now looking for ways to give people living in this region, especially the villages of Emao and Longoi, access to safe, clean water.  These villages are the focal point for proposed projects to funnel clean water from nearby forests to alleviate water scarcity.

The Tanzania Gatsby Trust has already improved the lives of many people through its various projects and continues to grow with the hope of bringing financial liberty, economic development and environmental conservation methods to the people of East Africa.

Related Sources: