What We Do
In Tanzania, commercial wood plantations was considered to be the role of the government until in the late nineties when the government started creating enabling environment for private commercial forest plantations. Because of favourable climate and suitable soils as well as availability of land for expansion of tree farming, Southern Highlands has attracted both private industrial forestry companies and smallholder tree growers. These natural factors coupled with the active engagement of the people in the area in tree planting led to government and development partners to start promoting private commercial forestry in the area. To stimulate an inclusive forest sector, Private Forestry and Carbon Trading Project (PF-CP) demonstrated the tree growers associations (TGA) model. PF-CT was a bilateral development cooperation project between the governments of Tanzania and Finland and it was implemented in 2010-2012. Tree growers associations are voluntary groups formed by tree farmers at village level.
TGA members have come together for the purpose of having collective voice in the forestry sector and its related value chains at local level where, members can increase their lobbying powers and negotiation skills in mutual matters, increase their market and price knowledge and improve their technical skills in tree growing value chain from seeds to market. The main objective of TGA model is to increase smallholders’ net income at harvest through enhancement of productivity and quality standards in tree farming through providing improved planting materials, technical advice and creation of enabling environment. TGAs have taken the role of focal point for organising these services in their respective locations.
The increasing enthusiasm to engage in forest investment by small scale tree growers has also been to respond to ever increasing demand of sawn wood timber which does not match with decreasing supply from government forest plantations. However, very often smallholder tree growers mention low level of knowledge and technical capacity aggravated by limited access to advisory services, improved seeds and recurrent wild fire and disorganised wood markets to be the four major barriers to becoming successful commercial forest actors.
High prices of improved seedlings offered by commercial nursery operators of TZS 150 to TZS 200 per seedling is explained by smallholders to be one key hindrance towards adopting the use of improved planting materials. Under TGA common nursery tree growers have been able to get the same material at TZS 70. Under this model, members are given seedlings for planting one acre for free and if one needs more than that then has to pay TZS 70 per seedling. This model has enabled members who cannot afford buying improved seedlings by their own to get seedlings from the TGA. Members mobilise their resources by contributing for purchase of seeds, polythene tubes and labour force for management of the nursery.
The growing importance of smallholders engagement in commercial forestry and increased need for diversified services among tree growing farmers called for establishment of an Apex body of the tree growers in Southern Highlands; the Southern Highlands Tree Growers Association (SHTGA) in 2014 and its subsequent registration in 2016. Members of SHTGA are TGAs from 8 districts located in Iringa, Njombe, and Morogoro regions. Currently there are 116 member TGAs with 7,745 members (2,512 women, 5,135 men and 98 institutions).
Roles of SHTGA include:
- To advice TGAs on gender participation in tree planting
- To promote development of public-private partnership in forest sector
- To enable members to share knowledge and experience
- To collaborate with private and public institutions in finding reliable markets for wood product.
We Effect Sivcam; a Swedish organization is supporting SHTGA to implement a project on Improved Women and Youth Participation in Private Forestry and Increased Women Income and Household Nutrition Agricord is supporting SHTGA to implement a project called Smallholder Forestry Business for Women and Youth in Southern Tanzania
Recently, there has been ever increasing demand to extend commercial tree growing to other parts of the country, especially in the western part. Few tree growers from this part of the country has shown interest of joining the Southern Highlands Tree Growers Association. Likewise, people from these areas have been seeking advice from SHTGA on different matters pertaining to nursery and woodlot establishment and management. This led to the establishment of the Tanzania Tree Growers Associations Union (TTGAU). This is a central body established in 2017 to bring together private commercial smallholder tree growers for collective voice. TTGAU’s goal is to spur a common Tanzania smallholders tree growers voice in order to address forestry and related value chains issues with the aim of enhancing inclusivity, competitiveness and resilience of the sector. Membership to TTGAU is open to registered tree growers associations. Currently there are 136 member TGAs with 9,554 members where 3,078 are women and 6,326 are men.
Some of the roles of TTGAU include:-
- Provide platform and create enabling environment for smallholders participation in the forestry sector
- Building and strengthen networking and peer learning of smallholder tree growers in Tanzania
- Enhancing women and young people participation in tree planting
- Enhancing smallholder tree growers (STGs) access to better markets and integration in the value chains
- Facilitate members’ access to improved forestry and farm inputs
- Access to advisory and extension services for increased plantations productivity and quality
- Linking Tanzania smallholder tree growers with the external world
Sustainability of TGAs, SHTGA and TTGAU largely depend on the satisfaction by members of the services provided as well as reducing their dependence on donor support. Such services as marketing of members’ wood, enhancing members access to improved planting materials and other farm inputs at a reasonable price, as well as provision of technical support plantation management for improved income at harvest.