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Tanzanian ag leaders visit Gowrie

By Staff | Nov 4, 2011

GOWRIE – A group from Tanzania is visiting Iowa this month to learn about American agricultural and farming practices.

Martins Chodota, board vice chair of the Center for Agricultural Development in Tanzania, and the Rev. Charles Mwantepele, CAD executive director, are joined by Jean Twilingiyumukiza, Ruyumba Farm Demonstration and Training Center in Rwanda.

All three will be special guest speakers at the Clay County Regional Events Center in Spencer on Nov. 6 as guests of the Western Iowa Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

“Western Iowa Synod has been joined with the Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod of Tanzania, also called the Center for Agricultural Training, which trains farmers in Tanzania, mostly farmers, to empower themselves and be able to grow more food,” Chodota said. “We are going to talk about that here.”

Chodota will speak about farming practices in Tanzania.

“Farming in Tanzania is not as large as it is here in America,” he said. “We grow various types of crops, food crops. Maize, which you call corn here. We also grow potatoes. We grow various types of fruit. We grow rice, and for cash crops we grow tea and coffee.”

Bruce Towne, of Gowrie, the visitors’ sponsor, said he wanted to present a comparison between American and western agriculture and Tanzanian agriculture, and wanted his guests to understand newer or different practices they could take with them back home.

“Martins was saying earlier, they feel Tanzanian agriculture is in about the 1900s of what ours is, and they’d like to miss some of those mistakes we made and jump up in their production,” Towne said.

All men agreed that their trip has been educational, including Twilingiyumukiza, who has a teaching farm in Rwanda and is consulting with Chodota and Mwantepele to start a teaching farm in Tanzania.

“We’ve learned quite a lot,” Chodota said. “There are a lot of things you do here. For example, there’s a lot of auto-mechanization and automation.”

Chodota said small farms of about 100 to 200 acres would require about 40 to 60 people in Tanzania, but in America farms need only one or two people running it because of the amount of machinery involved.

“This is what we are aiming at, so we can advance,” he said. “But, on the other hand, we see that you cannot do this in Tanzania. This would affect employment. If we mechanize, it would put a lot of people out of employment. You would need a lot of factories to absorb these people.”

Chodota elaborated on Tanzanian agricultural partnerships, specifically the CAD’s efforts to try and create markets and involve outlying communities.

“At present, we sell most of our crops through cooperatives,” he said. “We have rural pickups, so the small-scale farmers can sell their crops through the cooperative.

There are two ways, through the cooperative or privately.”

The visitors, who arrived in Iowa on Oct. 7 for the World Food Prize in Des Moines, will be returning to Tanzania on Nov. 8.

They will be speaking at the Clay County Regional Events Center, located at 800 W. 18th St. in Spencer on Nov. 6, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Cost is $10 per person, and includes a banquet meal. Proceeds benefit the Center for Agricultural Development.

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or bsummers@messengernews.net

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