In March 2014, Lorna Young Foundation Project Manager Cristina Talens, Joseph Macharia and Ringtons’ Responsible Sourcing Manager spent a week in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, working with staff from the Wakulima Tea Company (WATCO) and the Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers’ Association (RSTGA), to set up a Smallholder Support Network radio-extension programme with them.
This project, Funded primarily through the Waitrose Producer Support Fund with support from Ringtons, will use interactive radio programmes to provide farmers and their families with information and advice on issues such as good agricultural practices, sustainable land-management, markets and climate-change, as well as wider social issues affecting rural families, like HIV/AIDS. This will build upon work already done by RSTGA in creating radio production facilities.
The week was highly valuable in allowing the team to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex challenges involved in increasing volumes and quality of leaf supplied to WATCO, to establish good relationships with all relevant stakeholders, to complete the initial training and to create & trial the baseline questionnaire. The Lorna Young Foundation’s strong understanding of the tea industry plus the wealth of experience in working with smallholders and launching radio-extension projects proved invaluable.
This week highlighted one of the greatest advantages of The Lorna Young Foundation’s highly successful Smallholder Support Network radio-extension programme: the ease with which it can be adapted to a great variety of contexts, scales and budgets and still have a substantial impact. Once the smallholder group, extension officers and radio presenters have received the training, discovering what has worked in different contexts for different commodities, they take ownership of the radio programmes content and style.
The time spent in Tanznaia was an extremely positive start to the project and we look forward with great anticipation to the progress made by RSTGA & WATCO and to our future visits to Tanzania. In the coming weeks, the questionnaire will be rolled out across the 108 villages where the smallholders that supply WATCO live and it is hoped that the first radio programmes will air in May 2014. Follow the progress of this project on this blog.
Responsible Sourcing Manager