Travels in Tanzania

Our founder and CEO Peter Kelly spent a month traveling through Africa on a due-diligence trip, visiting several projects that could become recipients of the very first Grow Further grants. In the last issue, we shared some photos from Ghana, and in this issue we turn to Tanzania.

Arusha, Tanzania is one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities. A stepping-off point for treks to Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha is also famous for the occasional United Nations convention and international conferences. Several non-profits and NGOs are active there. Arusha is also an educational and scientific hub, home to researchers exploring new and innovative ways to help smallholder farmers while hopefully improving food security in the process.

Day one: In Arusha under the shadow of Kilimanjaro

On his first day in Tanzania, Peter met with the Arusha-based research team whose application impressed us enough to land them at one of the top spots among over 700 requests for grants. Above, researchers demonstrated for him a smartphone application similar to one they hope to develop for smallholder farmers to head off disease threats to crops.

The app uses machine learning technology to provide early warning of diseases and could be used by farmer groups as well as individual farmers to reach those who don’t have smartphones.

Peter walks across campus with the applicant

and meets the dean who would oversee the project.

Day two: In the field

Though the city of Arusha is pleasant enough, on the second day of his visit Peter got out of town to meet farmers and see their crops.

Here, a farmer shows pest and disease damage to her prized maize crop.

The research Peter came to Tanzania to visit may one day help farmers like her minimize pest and disease damage.

Later, Peter and his hosts toured a nearby banana plot.  A similar  disease detection app already exists for bananas.

The longest part of the field visit was actually a focus group discussion with farmers.  Peter asked a number of questions and listened closely to what the farmers themselves had to say regarding their problems and needs. They liked the idea of the app but many didn’t have smartphones. They thought that sharing phones through a farmer organization would be a better solution than informal sharing or relying on agricultural extension agents.

Day three: Back in the lab

After a day of meeting farmers and seeing their fields, Peter had the opportunity to see research scientists in action at their laboratories. Shown below is a new facility for growing common beans.

Below, Peter can be seen sharing his thoughts about how some of the as-yet unused space in the new facility might be used.

Peter also visited field research plots at the same research station.

Prior to wrapping up his Tanzania visit, Peter treated his hosts to a presentation on Grow Further and our work. Several audience members said that they were planning to submit applications in response to our next grant announcement. All told, his travels in and around Arusha proved very fruitful.

We wish to extend our thanks to the talented photographers who accompanied him to capture the images above.

— Grow Further

Photo credit: All photos are courtesy of True Vision Productions.

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