A wave of green ripples in the breeze as Gertruda Domayo stoops over to pull a tangle of weeds from her soybean fields in Nakahegwa, Tanzania. She loosens the soil with her hoe, freeing the weeds with quick flicks of her wrist. The small pods on her evenly spaced plants will be ready to harvest in a month.
Uniting to Earn More
Soybeans have been planted for years in Tanzania , but small-scale farmers could not attract large feed manufacturers on their own. Instead, manufacturers turned to imported soybeans from India or nearby Zambia to help meet demand. Meanwhile, middlemen dictated the price of the soybeans Gertruda and other farmers grew.
"[Soya ni Pesa] informed us about the genuine market prices, and so we ended up selling [at] a good price," Gertruda says. "We now know to hold on to our harvest and not sell without a plan."
As a result, Gertruda has seen her soybean profits jump from $30 to $180 a year. The added income has helped her rebuild her thatch-roofed home, which was damaged in a kitchen fire. Her new home is built with brick and a fire and leak-resistant iron roof. She can also afford better food for her family.
"The [advantage] of belonging to a group is the market is almost guaranteed," Gertruda says. "The committee bargains directly with the buyer and agrees on a good price. If we disagree on the price then we don't sell our soya, but if we do agree with them, the buyer is allowed to come and purchase our soya."
Handing Down Better Lives
"I encourage my neighbors to join the Soy ni Pesa project so they can also improve their income," Gertruda says. "The project will help them move from poverty by increasing their [profits] and therefore change their lives for the better."