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  • 20 Dec, 2022
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Years ago, we owned a sugarcane farm. This farm was located in Lwiche , Sumbawanga. If ask old sugarcane road traders in Sumbawanga, they know history of the Lwiche sugarcane farm. This farm was everything to our family. Why do I say this farm was everything to our family? Without this farm, I don't think I would have been able to study until where I am now. Without this farm, even food would not have been possible. Let me explain so we understand each other.

 Small-scale farmers, including myself, lived a life where our main crop was maize. We grew maize for consumption, selling a small portion to buy various daily necessities, and leaving another portion as seeds for the next season. That life, I cannot forget. During the maize planting season, there were farmers who didn't have enough maize reserves for consumption; either they sold all their maize and finished their stock, or they consumed it all before the next harvesting season. If you made a mistake and finish before the next harvest, then your family would suffer greatly from hunger. I witnessed families that finished their maize reserves and had no food left. They had no seeds to plant maize for the next season. Parents had no other jobs than waiting for the rains to come so they could work as laborers in the fields.

So, how does the sugarcane farm fit into this? The sugarcane farm was our savior. There were times when our maize reserves were depleted, and the only lifeline was the sugarcane farm. During the maize season, we got maize, and during the off-season, the sugarcane farm was the source of income for the family. We harvested sugarcane and sold it to roadside vendors who came to buy in our farm. The sugarcane farm was our savior, especially when the maize reserves ran out. When we harvested sugarcane and sold it, we got money to buy maize for consumption. Sugarcane was our savior for our family. I remember witnessing other families struggling for food, and if it wasn't for our sugarcane farm, maybe I wouldn't have studied because maize wasn't a source of income in our farming, maize was for food. That's why we call our sugarcane farm, The Miracle SugarCane Farm.

I remember until today, I used to go to the farm with my late mother. We would meet roadside vendors crowded in the farm, each with an order for sugarcane they wanted. One wanted 10 sugarcane, another 20, another 50 and so on.

 My mother was the one who set the price for one sugarcane based on its size, for wholesale. My mother negotiated the price with these traders, while I acted as an accountant. I recorded daily sugarcane sales, counted money, and hid it in my clothes. Have I told you, this is the reason I studied accounting? The money earned from the sugarcane farm was used to pay for my brothers' boarding school fees. This sugarcane farm holds a special place in our hearts, which is why we refer to it as "The miracle sugarcane farm."

Our farming life was a lonely life. We had no close agronomic support. Yes, in our village, we had an agricultural officer, but he was of no help. Firstly, we never saw him in the fields, nor did we receive any assistance from him. So, we relied on ourselves. Our harvests were poor. That's why our lives were tough. Our neighbors, who were farmers like us, were as poor as us. They struggled like us. Even now, the lives of many smallholder farmers are the same. Even after my mother passed away, we continued to farm with difficulty under the supervision of my grandmother, whom we called Grandma Ndango. Various NGOs came, took our information, and promised to help us but never returned.

The sugarcane farm is what enabled me to finish the university. Thanks to the government's education loan, if not for that, maybe I wouldn't have gone to university because I couldn't afford it. As I graduated from university and returned home to my dear village, I paid a visit to our beloved sugarcane farm. It shatters my soul to witness the struggles that smallholder farmers in my community continue to face even today. The pain is so real as I see their struggles firsthand. It is a constant reminder of the tough journey that lies ahead of me with these courageous and diligent individuals. But despite the challenges, I remain optimistic and determined to do everything within my power to bring about positive change for these deserving farmers.

Every day, I promise myself that I will take action to enhance the livelihoods of these humble small-scale farmers.

I started the company MazaoHub to bring precision agriculture technologies to small-scale farmers because of the problems I encountered as a small-scale farmer. Problems that still plague many farmers in Africa. Before MazaoHub, I started an agritech company that was like an e-commerce platform connecting farmers. I failed miserably. Do you think I gave up?

My failure pushed me to go back to my village, and visited  our sugarcane farm. I remember crying in   the sugarcane farm alone and told that farm , “you are the one that pushed me to start agritech company that failed. Tell me where I'm stuck? Give me strength to start afresh” . I had no idea what happened, but that Miracle Sugarcane Farm gave me a new inspiration that  led to drawing a new map of New Agritech which is the birthplace of MazaoHub Precision Agriculture Inc.

African farmers have been failed by inefficient agricultural extension delivery services. Agricultural extension delivery is disorganized, not data-driven, and that's why farmers are not productive, not connected to market and not creditworthy. Imagine an extension officer, overseeing more than 3000 farmers manually. Many farmers are not served, and nobody cares. Go to any country in Africa, and you will find farmers doing things on their own. If you see a farmer being visited and provided services, know that seed companies have sent their experts specifically to distribute their seeds. They will do it for a few farmers to sell their seeds. No close agronomic support.

MazaoHub solves these problems. We recognize that if agricultural extension delivery is streamlined, many farmers will be served. And we will achieve high productivity. To achieve true agricultural productivity, farmers need a comprehensive approach that includes geospatial data about their land, historical and predictive climate information. They need soil nutrient testing, crop suitability analysis, budgeting based on current market prices, monitoring tools to track crop health, guidance and knowledge of appropriate local fertilizers/herbicides, understanding of market trends, and proper post-harvest practices including insights. All these services must be onboarded together, and we can use AI to provide farmers with personalized real-time prescriptions, recommendations, and insights on soil, fertilizers, herbicides, and daily farming guidance just like how doctors provide prescriptions in health sector. To deliver these services, we cannot rely on extension officers without software tools.  It is impossible. Nor can we rely on software alone to solve this problem. That's why MazaoHub delivers these services through software and on ground support.   

With our simple, local app that functions even with low connectivity or offline. This is where MazaoHub Precision Agriculture comes in. But for African farmers, a human touch is also essential. That's where our farm excellent centers come in.

Mazao Hub Platform is accessible here: www.mazaohub.com and available on Google Playstore as Mazao Hub. We have users in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo, South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda but our headquarters is based in Dar es Salaam, with more than 30 farmer excellent centers serving more than 39,000 smallholder farmers. We produce our own soil sensors and partner with input companies, food companies, financial institutions to deliver all their services using MazaoHub Farmer Excellent Centers models.

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