An innovative farming model to reduce FGM
Meet Selemani Bishagazi, a man who is making a difference in his community. The leader of Kipunguni Knowledge Centre, one of the 25 centres Crossroads’ local partner TGNP created to give local communities the tools to change their own lives, Selemani is fighting Female Genital Mutilation.
Female Genital Mutilation is a serious issue in some countries in Africa and Tanzania is no exception. Fueled by ancestral beliefs and economic motivations, the practice is still common in many villages and tribes even though Female Genital Mutilation has been illegal in Tanzania since 1998.
Selemani recognized this was not only a women’s rights issue, but also an economic one. To end this cycle of violence targeting too many girls in his community, Selemani wanted to develop new activities that would allow women who financially benefited from Female Genital Mutilation to have a new way of making a sustainable living. As Kipunguni Knowledge Centre was already focused on improving infrastructures and developing agriculture, Crossroads International supported Selemani to explore a new agricultural approach through a South-South exchange to La Colombe, Crossroads’ local partner in Togo. There, he learned about their innovative layering approach on very small plots of land to diversify their production and increase yields. For instance, the droppings from rabbits feed the fish ponds and the nutrient-rich water from the fish ponds is used to water the garden.
Once back home, Selemani trained his community and they managed to adapt the Togolese model to their gardens. The new production processes increased the quantity and quality of the vegetables grown and their production is now enough for they own use and for sale.
To participate in this project offering a sustainable income, both the families and the practitioners had to commit to stopping the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. A lot of women who previously financially benefited from Female Genital Mutilation stopped their involvement in the practice, learned new skills and became producers, now making a living from agriculture. Selemani also used this opportunity to educate his community on the effects of Female Genital Mutilation. Following the implementation of this new model, a decrease in genital mutilations of girls is expected in the community.
This new model of economic empowerment through agriculture was such a success than TGNP, in collaboration with Crossroads International, is planning to open a Learning Centre in Kipunguni to train other Knowledge Centres in integrated agriculture. Ultimately, TGNP would like to implement a component of integrated agriculture in every Knowledge Centres to help with economic empowerment. Another Crossroads’ partner KWIECO will also benefit from this model. Implementing integrated agriculture will help with its shelter’s sustainability, food security and women’s economic empowerment.
Selemani’s determination had a real impact in his community and even beyond. He made change happen proving, as Barack Obama once said, that “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”