The SACAU women farmer leaders recently visited a hydroponic farm in the heart of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This urban farm – called Mwamy Green Veggies – is managed by a dynamic woman, Ms Mwamy Mlangwa, who left her banking career to enter farming in a full-time capacity. The visit was part of the 2017 SACAU Regional Women Farmers’ Forum that was co-hosted by the Agricultural Council of Tanzania back-to-back with the leadership and negotiations skills training.
The farm visit was an eyeopener for many of the women. They realised the potential and possibilities of farming in urban areas making it possible to supply fresh vegetables to urban consumers. Ms Mlangwa is farming on a small plot and supplies lettuce to shops on a daily basis. Mwamy encouraged women to explore the possibilities of hydroponic farming because it has several advantages that include the absence of soil-borne pathogens; a safe alternative to soil disinfection; good quality crops; precision application of nutrients; no soil tillage and preparation; high total yield; and environmental safety and sustainability.
However, she cautioned that though the technology is handy for urban farming, before adopting it one should take into consideration the high initial cost of setting up greenhouses and other supporting equipment, the high requirements of technical skills as well as a clean and adequate supply of water.
Lastly, Mwamy tipped women on some of her secrets for running a successful business. “For an entrepreneur to succeed in a business such as hydroponics, the following are some of the things women should be aware of: proactive management; documentation of all the activities and close monitoring of the plants and equipment; fertigation (the injection of fertilisers, soil amendments and other watersoluble products into an irrigation system); production planning; proper pest control mechanisms; manpower management and use of efficient machines; and strong supervision,” she said.