Mbarali pastoralist and MVIWATA member Trugeti Kashu explains to the committee her experiences on land conflicts
- Passing of Retired Secretary of MVIWATA
Retired Secretary of MVIWATA Andrew Charles Hepelwa has died. Hepelwa's death happened on Sunday morning, December 9, 2012 at his home Makambako Iringa.
Andrew Hepelwa MVIWATA has served as Secretary General for 10 years before retiring this position after the constitutional changes.
For some time now Mr Hepelwa has been suffering from diabetes, which was diagnosed as four years ago.
Hepelwa was buried in his village Lulanzi in Kilolo district, Iringa on Wednesday December 12,2012.
MVIWATA at national level and at the middle level of Iringa actively participated at the funeral of our comrade Andrew Hepelwa.
May the soul of the late Andrew Charles Hepelwa rest in peace.
- MVIWATA Board Meeting held in Morogoro
The Board of Directors of MVIWATA, on 3 November, 2012 held a quarterly meeting in Morogoro.
It was a normal meeting which received reports and work plan as well as discussed other issues for the sustainability of the organisation.
Before the meeting on 31 October, 2012 board members participated in training workshop on Financial Management issues.
On 1st November, 2012 members of the board visited smallholder farmers in Wami Luhindo, Mvomero and Hembeti villages in Mvomero district, Morogoro region.
The visit focused on learning activities undertaken by farmers and exchange experiences on successes and challenges.
In the village of Wami Luhindo board members visited members of Juhudi na Maarifa group who makes the study of rice cultivation through irrigation during the dry season and encouraging farmers to spread the knowledge they have gained to more farmers in the area.
They also encouraged the farmers to develop projects through funding from the District Agricultural Development Programs (DADPS).
- The Let’s Talk Land Tanzania website launched
Tanzania Land Alliance (TALA) and Tanzania Land consortium and Portal partners have launched a new technological platform of sharing and getting information on land issues.
The Let’s Talk Land Tanzania website and land management and acquisition information sharing tool http://letstalklandtanzania.com/s/ was officially launched on Tuesday October 16, 2012, during the World Food Day at Kiharaka villages in Bagamoyo district.
The campaign is aiming to give communities affected and those working on land issues a platform to share, get information and contact the land help line by merely using cell-phone in sending sms or phone call. There was also an event of launching a report 'Lay of the land; Improving land governance to stop land grabs' by Actionaid
At the occasion, victims of land grabs from Kiharaka, Kisarawe and Kilosa shared their stories in which it was clear that land grabs has impact to food security in their areas.
Addressing the gathering, Kiharaka Village Executive Officer Mr. Juma Kozi said land disputes has becoming a serious issues in the area as many villagers now does not own a piece of land instead they turned to be guardian after been lured and sell the land to local investors.
MVIWATA is a founder member of Tanzanian Land Alliance (TALA) a coalition of civil society groups with strong expertise on land governance and sustainable development.
- Homeless farmers’ lives are uncertainty
Over 2500 homeless farmers of Mateteni in Mbigiri village, Kilosa District, live at risk of their lives as the country is heading to the rain season in this October to December.
The Tanzania Meteorology Agency (TMA) has announced the rainfall outlook for October –December 2012 by saying the country will experience above normal rain season, which means without homes their lives of Mateteni people are uncertainty.
Mateteni farmers for more than eight months live in obsolete tents after their 50 houses got flattened in February 2012 due to land dispute of farm number nine between them and the former Chief Secretary of government Mr Timoth Apiyo who served in the Mwalimu Nyerere regime. Mr Apiyo is claimed to own the farm.
The demolition conducted by under the police supervision to implement directive from Mr Apiyo in which caused panic and heart attack among of the residents living in the area, who lost their belongings.
The demolished houses included those built by widows who were moved to the area after their homes were razed down by the floods of Mkundi River in 2008.
Since then 2500 homeless people are still living on that piece of land. It is because of their struggle that they were able to fulfil their fundamental human right to shelter, food and life.
Speaking before the Kilosa District Commissioner Mr Elias Tarimo on 5th October, 2012, farmers in Mateteni refuted the order of the government of vacating the area, instead recommended the commissioner to supply them with the basic needs, including construction of new houses.
“After the demolition, the government said it was a mistake and promised to build us new houses, what is the status and tell us where would you expect to take us in the coming rain season,” Ms Francisca William questioned the DC Tarimo.
In his response DC Tarimo, said had no any information concerning the program of building new houses for Mateteni victims and promised to work on the matter.
Farmers also are in doubts of being affected by the epidemic of infectious diseases such as diarrhoea.
The Commissioner and the District Security Committee have started intervention in the dispute by summoning the investor, who for a long time had failed to develop his farm, causing people to invade some sections of the land particularly after they were hit with floods in their previous lands.
The committee held talks with the investor and agreed the land should be re-surveyed so that farmers would continue living in a part of the land while remaining section should be developed for investment purpose.
DC Tarimo said at the village assemble that the investor holds all legal documents for his occupancy of the land, but the government pleaded for him to release a section of land to farmers, the decision was reached with the aim of helping people who were affected by floods as they had their houses swept away.
However, the DC statement received with different views whereby many farmers refuted by advising the government to give the investor a piece of land elsewhere so that farmers there were still those who continued to live in flood prone zone.
The farmers’ arguments based in the fact that, apart on residential area, they still need more land to establish facilities such as a dispensary and a school, arguing that the investor had been neglecting the land since 1990s and only came to claim for it last year after had been cleared by them.
“For almost twenty years the farm had been abandoned in which people were cultivating crops freely until 2010 when victim of floods taken to the areas by the government.
They claimed that the dispute has been handled more politically, with each politician bringing in his idea without any proper documentation. They advised that the long lasting solution should be found given the fact that even the President’s Officer was aware of it.
The development of the dispute came about to the public through different local and international media after hamlet leaders in Mateteni and farmers reported the matter to MVIWATA in seeking assistance. From there MVIWATA supported to access media and giving out their grievances and arranged the meeting with the District Commissioners Office as well as Statehouse.
Our government and political leaders excluding the poor, had led movement of landless farmers to occupy lands to farm and live in dignity. Movements like Mateteni and dedicated farmers elsewhere are symbols of what is happening in the country.
- MVIWATA receives International Award
Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) has been awarded the 2012 FANRPAN Civil Society Movers and Shakers Award, which recognises contributions of mobilising small-scale farmers in Tanzania.
The award was announced recently at the FANRPAN Annual Regional Policy Dialogue held in Dar es Salaam.
FANRPAN Civil Society Movers and Shakers Award is given to Civil Organisations that have demonstrating excellence in promoting food security, agriculture or natural resources issues through advocacy or any other approach that influences policy in FANRPAN member states.
Speaking soon after receiving the award, MVIWATA Executive Director Mr Stephen Ruvuga expressed gratitude for FANRPAN for recognition of the network’s efforts in mobilising small-scale farmers who are majority in this country and play a big role in food security and the wider economy.
“We are very grateful for FANRPAN for recognition of our efforts in mobilising small-scale farmers who are majority in this country an play big role in food security as well as nation economy,” he said.
The agricultural sector in Tanzania employs close to 80 percent of the country’s population that is now estimated at 45 million.
Founded in 1993, the network aspires to empower smallholders economically and socially through capacity building. It similarly undertakes lobbying and advocacy by strengthening the group and other networks, facilitating communication and learning to defending farmers’ interests effectively.
“MVIWATA was formed to address challenges facing smallholder farmers such as lack of a strong organisation of small scale farmers in the country to combat exclusion of small scale farmers from the decision making process. It also sought to reduce under-representation in decision making bodies, work on low prices of agricultural produce, unreliable markets and lack of access to financial services”, the director explained.
To address the challenges, he said MVIWATA has been implementing various interventions focusing on lobbying and advocacy, capacity building and economic empowerment of small-scale farmers in which objectives have been achieved and can be testified through individual experiences.
The organisation has being facilitating the formation and strengthening of production and marketing groups and link them with extension service providers to increase productivity, he said.
In facilitating economic empowerment, recently MVIWATA accomplished the construction of three new semi-whole sale food crop markets structures with the aim to facilitate rural farmers’ access to reliable markets and better price for agro produce. The completion of these markets with the other six built before, has influence in increased food production in country.
“The vision of MVIWATA is to become a strong farmers’ organisation that will guarantee small-scale farmers’ participation and representation in the socio-economic and policy dialogue process at various levels. That will be achieved through learning, initiating, implementing and monitoring social and economic development processes”, he further noted.
Reflecting on the award, the director said MVIWATA has registered a number of achievements such as an increased number of farmers who raised awareness on the importance of joining together. “This gives them one common and strong voice to advocate for the interest of farmers, while at the same time other stakeholders have increased their understanding about the work of MVIWATA and its mission to advocate the farmers’ interests and improve their livelihoods.
- MVIWATA hold 17th Annual General meeting
On 15th to 16th August 2012, Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) held its 17th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and National Workshop in Morogoro town.
The AGM and National Workshop was held at Gronnency Hotel 88.
The meeting was officially open by the Executive Director of Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Mr Joseph Butiku, who is also a member of Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
This constitutional meeting brought together 250 participants, who include members from regions of Tanzania and Zanzibar, and invitees from international and national partnership organizations and the government officials.
Prior to the Annual General Meeting, on 15th August there was the National Workshop whose theme this year was participation of small-scale farmers in the process constitutional review.
In last year the National Workshop’s theme was ‘the Private Sector and Public Sector Partnership in Development of Crops Markets’, while the 2010 National Workshop’s theme was “the East African Community Common Market; is an opportunity to Smallholder Farmers”
The workshop proposed some recommendations on the new constitution which would be forwarded to the Constitutional Review Commission.
The workshop was preceded with the MVIWATA’s 17th Annual General Meeting whereby members of the AGM received and considered reports, audited report, plans and budgets.
Narrating some achievements at the AGM, MVIWATA Programme Officer Mr Laurent Kabubire, said the organization has managed to solve and resolve land conflicts in a host of villages and he went on to name a few, Itete and Maguba were first then Msowero and Mateteni villages in Ulanga and Kilosa districts in Morogoro Region.
In but one year, the network has also reported 1.9bn/- issued in loans to some 1,232 farmers who are members of the network of small scale farmers in Tanzania (MVIWATA) which now has more than 100,000 members countrywide and growing rapidly.
He went on saying; the organisation in collaboration with other financial entities made the assistance a reality but some 78m/- of the loans was exclusively from the network itself which reports a very high repayment rate.
Up to 95 percent of all beneficiaries are said to have been able to pay their loans in a timely manner, qualifying them for even more loans.
- Give your views on new constitution, farmers urged
Small-scale farmers have been challenged to participate fully in the ongoing constitution review process by airing their views.
The challenge was thrown recently by the Executive Director of Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Mr Joseph Butiku, when opening a National Workshop organised by a Network for Small-scale Farmers in Tanzania (MVIWATA) in Morogoro town.
The two-day workshop aimed at discussing the ongoing constitutional review, assisting the participation of small-scale farmers in the process and reviewing their views to be forwarded to the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
Mr Butiku said small-scale farmers have the opportunity to present their views to the commission without fear.
“There is no need to fear anything, it is high time for you to tell how you want the new constitution to protect your interests,” he said.
Mr Butiku, who is also a CRC member, hailed some farmers who had contributed their views to the commission since it embarked on the exercise in some regions last month.
“We have received a lot of their comments, most of them want the new constitution to protect them against land eviction and to clarify the farmers and pastoralists rights…this will help stop the ongoing land conflicts….,” he stated.
He warn that African countries sidelining small-scale farmers in land ownership are most likely to breed future conflicts.
There is fear among observers that if the situation is left unchecked, there will be a repeat of feudalism with the farmers turning into serfs and serve for cheap labour on the acquired huge land, hence there is dire need for African governments, when it comes to land acquisition, to give first priority to its citizens.
An organization making a difference in the matter is MVIWATA which, in the course of recent years has united small scale farmers and provided resources in money and kind availing loans, material and equipment and even more importantly, counselling and forums on farmers’ rights as citizens and as humans.
For their part, small-scale farmers asked village leaders not to intimidate them soon after presenting their views on the new constitution.
A farmer, Ms Donatila Laurent from Manyara region, said some leaders have been warning them against contributing their ideas to the commission.
She also urged the CRC to conduct public hearings in the afternoon instead of morning hours.
Mr Emmanuel Newasi from Newala urged the CRC to cover as many areas as possible since there are many people who are left out of the process.
“Many people, including farmers in our district, were not able to present their views to the commission due to various reasons,” he said.
Presenting his paper titled 'Crucial issues relating to farmers in the constitution', a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Mr Bashiru Alli, urged small-scale farmers to make sure that the new constitution clearly states on the production system.
"The new constitution should tell us how we are going to benefit from social security, democracy, distribution of natural resources and who will be responsible for farming inputs and loans,' he said.
Mr Bashiru also said there is fear that Tanzania would enter into land conflicts if the current trend of land allocation to foreigners is not reviewed.
He said land and its related issues should be thoroughly elaborated in the new constitution to avert possible conflicts.
“We need to look at our land laws and strengthen them so that they adequately protect the rights of indigenous Tanzanians,” he said.
Speaking earlier, MVIWATA Executive Director Stephen Ruvuga said the new constitution should stipulate the freedom of farmers to sell their produce anywhere.
He said the constitution should also identify various groups on land ownership in order to avoid land disputes.
He said MVIWATA had already proposed some recommendations on the new constitution which would be forwarded to the CRC.
"We need to look review our land laws so that they adequately protect the rights of indigenous Tanzanians," he said.
“We will continue aid the farmers and to educate them on their rights, particularly on land issues…,” he assured them, saying they hope such knowledge will reduce the escalating land conflicts currently rocking rural Tanzania.
“…it is high time farmers participated in the formation of our new constitution… to protect their interests as well as that of the nation as a whole…,” he said.
- Launching of a new website
We are delighted to invite all of our stake holders into our redesigned website. We hope that through it you will learn of various activities we are conducting, in helping farmers in Tanzania
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