TANZANIA – Sabina Makongo is a farmer and practitioner of conservation agriculture in the village of Nyamohonda, Tanzania. She was recently named a “Champion Farmer” by her village in recognition of her success and inspiration to other farmers. But it wasn’t always so.

She has been so successful that she was recently named a “Champion Farmer” by her village in recognition of her success and inspiration to other farmers. But it wasn’t always so.

Sabina grew up hungry.

Sabina and her husband were both raised in farming families where conventional farming methods resulted in low yields every season.

As a mother of seven children, Sabina wanted more for her children and worked hard to provide. Her husband worked as a subsistence trader, regularly traveling to different local markets, while Sabina stayed home and managed the farm and household. She used the methods with which she was raised — no fertilizer, planting by “broadcasting” (simply strewing seeds by hand), and mono-cropping (growing the same crop on the same plot every season — and couldn’t grow enough to feed her family. They needed about 2,000 kilograms of maize a year to avoid hunger and Sabina’s efforts were yielding less than 700 kg.

Sabina and her husband had “hustle,” but it wasn’t enough.


But Sabina kept going and she made a smart choice.

In order to generate income, Sabina took on casual labor jobs and contributed some of those wages into a village savings and loan group. After six months in the group, Sabina was able to take a loan from the group and start a roadside restaurant near her home, with her husband and neighbors pitching in to build a temporary dwelling for the venture. But the loan wasn’t enough to cover foodstuff to meet growing customer demand and feed her family, who were now eating at the restaurant.

So Sabina made another smart choice.

Sabina’s latest harvest of this year (in August 2018) yielded 4,800 kgs of maize from the very same land that only produced 700 kgs before!

In 2016, World Renew and our partner, the Mara Ukerewe Diocese of the Africa Inland Church, introduced conservation agriculture in Sabina’s village, and Sabina decided to join a farmer’s group that would learn and work together. She attended several conservation agriculture trainings and started making some changes on her two-acre farm over the next two growing seasons. She started by preparing her land well with animal manure as fertilizer and, instead of “broadcasting,” she planted precisely, according to recommended spacing methods she had learned in training.

Over the course of a year, including two growing seasons, Sabina planted green cover crops (Canavalia, Mucuna, and Lablab beans) alone, allowing the soil to be re-nourished before planting maize the following season. And then, after all that effort, Sabina started to see changes in her farm plot: the weeds were much less intense, the soil was retaining moisture, the seeds were germinating well, and — best of all — her efforts paid off with healthy crops and greater harvests.

Sabina’s latest harvest of this year (in August 2018) yielded 4,800 kgs of maize from the very same land that only produced 700 kgs before!

Since 2017, Sabina’s maize yields have increased each season, so the cost of feeding her family has gone down. She has planted a one-acre sweet potato field that also contributes to family nutrition and supplies her restaurant. She has been able to buy 8 cows that provide milk for her family and her restaurant, as well as manure for her farm.

With their reduced food expenses, Sabina and her husband have gradually increased their savings in the savings group and been able to access another loan, with which they have constructed a permanent building for the family business, pictured on the front page. They now have enough food for the year and surplus for income and the restaurant. Sabina and her husband plan to scale up their agricultural efforts in the coming season by cultivating  4 acres of family land with 7,000 trees as a way of conserving the environment and growing a future source of income that they can use to finish their permanent building and expand their business.

Sabina’s “hustle” needed the knowledge she gained in conservation agriculture training, and farming always needs hustle!

In addition to her farming success and her family’s new income security, Sabina has been rewarded with the acknowledgment of her community, who named her a “champion farmer” last year. Champion farmers serve as models of improved agricultural technology and practices that can inspire others. Sabina now directly mentors 13 farmer households in her community! Having been trained in improved agricultural practices, she has since gained skills in entrepreneurship and livelihood diversification, adaptive crop enterprises, and agro-forestry practices.

All of this success translates directly into family well-being and happiness for Sabina and her husband. He no longer has to travel away from home as much and her two daughters and five sons are happier now than ever before because they eat every day, go to school every day, and have access to healthcare.

Sabina says that during difficult times, when her children lacked food, she never realized the full joy of being a mother and a wife. She can experience that joy deeply now, celebrating that her family is achieving food security and looking beyond it to long-term economic investment.

“All along I trusted in God,” says Sabina, “for my family provision and good health.  I’ll keep on trusting in Him for our future plans.”


Prayers for Tanzania

  • We are thankful that Gladys Mwangi’s work permit was approved last month by the Labour Ministry. With the approved work permit submitted to Immigration, we were waiting for approval of a residence permit that would allow her to live and work in Tanzania for two years. Praise God with us, this is also approved!
  • The dry season in Tanzania’s Lake Zone should be ending soon. Pray for the blessing of enough rain in due time so that the families we serve, who depend on the land for their livelihoods, will experience good yields, sufficient food, and steady income for the months ahead.
  • We continue to give thanks for our two church partners, the Africa Inland Church of Tanzania dioceses of Mara Ukerewe and Geita. The church elected several new bishops in August to fill vacancies. Mara Ukerewe Bishop Peter Kitula retired after many years of faithful service. Pray for his replacement, Peter Pharles, as he steps into this key position.
  • We are considering a proposal from a potential church-based partner in Mwanza. Pray for wisdom and discernment for this possible new partner and for our team as we consider their program proposal.
  • Pray for the families of the 227 people who lost their lives in the ferry disaster on Lake Victoria. This disaster happened on September 20 in Ukerewe District which is served by our partner AICT Mara Ukerewe.



Gladys Mwangi

Program Consultant
World Renew Tanzania