Perched in the lush Usambara Mountains, Lutindi has some of the best environmental conditions in the district. However, the mountainous terrain isolates the village and divides arable land into small and widely distributed farms. One farmer alone cannot produce the quantity needed to profit from sending even the best quality crops to high-value markets. Reaching niche markets, where crops can fetch up to double the local price, is critical to ending the cycle of subsistence farming in Lutindi.
Understanding this reality, the Lutindi Project organized a cooperative of roughly 30 farmers which coordinate planting and harvesting to access markets collectively. The group provides opportunities for education on agricultural best practices and business and finance concepts, as well as opportunities to experiment with specialty crops rarely seen in Tanzania, such as beets. To increase efficiency and develop cooperation and management skills among farmers, the group has been divided into three subgroups that coordinate their planting and harvesting in order to produce year-round and secure access to high-value markets.
To further increase the productivity of each farm, 2Seeds structured a microfinance system. Microloans allow farmers to gain access to higher quality inputs, such as treated seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, which farmers are trained to use safely. Group sales in Lutindi are supported by an insurance scheme that enables Partners to take calculated risks in order to become strong players in the agricultural market. The group is well on their way to full financial self-sustainability!