FARMERS in Pemba have been motivated to grow spices, vegetables and fruits following the support project funded by the European Union (EU) and being supervised by the government of Zanzibar.
"We had lost interest in farming because of lack of technical support, working equipment, poor infrastructure and lack of market for our products. We are happy now that the project has awakened us after the challenges were minimized," farmers said when the project was being introduced to them.
The project is being implemented by the People's Development Forum (PDF) in collaboration with Community Forests Pemba (CFP) and Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA)-Zanzibar.
Farmers at Kiungoni, Kinyikani, Pandani and Pembeni villages in Wete district, Pemba North, on different occasions gave their comments that the revival and motivation of the project to grow spices, vegetables and fruits was a milestone in their welfare.
Mr Ali Said Khamis, a farmer from Kiungoni village thanked EU and the government, saying the project has been introduced at the right time.
"We produce low, but sometimes we have good produce despite no market," he said.
He said that some farmers had abandoned growing the spices, vegetables and fruits, because they guaranteed no benefit.
"For example, recently I had good production of watermelon and tomatoes, but due to lack of market, most perished in the farm," Mr Khamis said.
Another farmer, Ms Mtumwa Busra Mohamed, said she is now optimistic that many women will return to farming, following the introduction of the project that assures them of technical support and market.
"Many women cannot engage in agro-business because of lack of start-ups or capital. But with the project, many will now join," she said after the Project Officer, Mr Yahya Khatib Suleiman informed farmers that the project aims at tackling challenges facing them.
Mr Suleiman said that the project's objectives include finding a reliable market for the products, improving production (quality and quantity), and which are competitive in the demand market.
"This is business in any oriented project, you will produce quality farm products as per market requirement," he said as the project 'economic empowerment officer', Ms Asha Mussa Omar, adding that women should be given priority in the project being implemented in 50 areas (Shehias) of Unguja and Pemba.