Field Visits

November 1, 2017 | Nina, POL, Tanzania, Uniterra - MVIWATA Kilimanjaro - Business Development Advisor

The Maasai, famous for being cattle and goat herders, live in the highlands of Northern Tanzania. Their daily meals and economic production is based on their livestock. The Maasai follow their cattle and goats in search of new grazing lands and water resources in the Kilimanjaro region. Due to the remote location of the Maasai, members of the Maasai tend to have less access to education and economic opportunities than other ethnic groups in Tanzania. My organization, National Farmers’ Network (MVIWATA) aims to promote capacity building among farmers to increase their profit while providing marginalized groups with training on the latest agricultural techniques, business opportunities and human rights.

We have visited the Maasai village in the Same District of the Kilimanjaro region several times. MVIWATA asked for the help of Chairman of the village to encourage participation of villagers, especially women and youth. We collected primary data from farmer groups and individual groups to better understand their needs. The organization also conducted interactive trainings on HIV and AIDS. With another volunteer who studies international development in Canada, we observed that most participants who attended the workshops were women. We learned that in the Maasai culture, men are responsible for taking care of the livestock. Sometimes men spend several weeks to months away from their homes to find food and water for their cattle. The Maasai women are then responsible to conduct agricultural activities and domestic work at home.

We also provided training sessions on gender equality. In the Maasai culture, women should not speak publicly especially in front of other men. Because the presence of certain young men at the trainings, the Maasai women are timid to speak in front of the villagers. We encouraged them to participate in the training by having discussion sections. We also designed “games” such as passing the ball to another participant who will talk about things they learnt from the trainings. These activities worked really well in promoting women participation in the workshops.

My role as a business development advisor at MVITWATA enables me to gain a better understanding about agriculture business, cultural differences and social challenges in the country. My past experience working as a business analyst at a consulting company and as an investment banking intern allowed me to grasp the financial side of the business but doing an international placement in a developing country make me realize the social side of agricultural business. By doing field visits to farmlands, factories and agricultural companies, I got to know small-scale farmers’ difficulties in building relationship between processors and agricultural companies and farmers’ challenges facing climate change, deforestation and over population. This international internship has given me an opportunity to gain “hands on” experience in agricultural business while bringing positive changes to the community.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.