Today, on World Food Day, people from across Tanzania gathered in Kiharaka village to call for better rights for small-scale food producers. In particular, land grabs and threats to people’s land rights were identified as among the biggest dangers to the nation’s food security.
Amina Rashid told how her small plot of land, on which she grew maize and vegetables to support her two children, was fenced off last year by a foreign investor she has never met. She can no longer access her fields, while other villagers have been cut off from their water sources and coconut trees.
“We now have more poverty and less food” says Amina, “Without land where will the food come from?”
There were concerns about local as well as foreign land investments. Hadija said that wealthy city-dwellers from the capital, Dar es Salaam, have been buying up her village’s land, pushing prices beyond what local farmers can afford. Hadija’s husband has had to leave her and the children behind and travel hundreds of kilometres to find available land.
Events like this aim to bring people together who are facing similar problems, sharing information and uniting communities. Mohamed told the crowd: “We have seen the fences being built in our fields and when we protest we are threatened with guns.” A new online portal was officially launched – Let’s Talk Land Tanzania – which aims to give communities and civil society working on land issues a platform to share information and campaigns. There is also a telephone “help-line” which people can call to get advice about their land rights.
See photos from the day’s events.
Meanwhile, the 14 Female Food Hero finalists sent an open letter to the President of Tanzania, spelling out their concerns and what needs to be done to support women farmers – reproduced in English below and in Kiswahili here: