According to The World Bank, approximately 70% of Tanzanians live in poverty, with most relying on subsistence agriculture to survive. Within the impoverished Mwanza region, more than 1/3 of the population lives in extreme poverty, where farmers with plenty of land struggle to feed their families. The concept of mono-cropping, once advocated throughout large swathes of East Africa, has depleted the rich soil of its nutrients. It requires the use of chemicals and leads to erosion. Even when farmers are able to produce enough to eat, there is a lack of variety which decreases the health of families in a region where 35% of children under age 5 are chronically malnourished. To address the cycle of poverty fed by these economic, environmental, and health hardships farmers in the region need to be able to increase and vary their food production, while caring for and extending the life of their land.
Permaculture (permanent agriculture) education and implementation is the solution.
Utilizing a holistic and replicable approach, Mainsprings works to uplift the region by offering a community-based, sustainable model to address these challenges. Through our permaculture model and education program, we are able to help farmers and organizations better utilize their own land, benefitting both the community and the planet.
Built in 2012, the permaculture model on Mainsprings’ flagship Kitongo campus is an active classroom. Begun as a simple seminar and hands on experience program, our model has evolved into the Permaculture Institute of Tanzania (PIT) and provides an internationally recognized certification program. Replicating nature in a food producing farm, livestock is used to strategically replenish the soil, fields are filled with a variety of trees, shrubs, plants, and vines, and the campus is 100% solar (including water pump and filtration). Increasing crop yields year after year, Mainsprings further invests in the community by using the food produced from the program to feed 420 primary and secondary school students, and helping to finance healthcare for the district, a home for girls in need, and annual community health seminars. With a focus on sustainability, Mainsprings program is run for the people by the people, providing employment opportunities for over 80 East Africans. The result is a robust community—through healthy people (having more and varied foods), a replenished environment (reducing chemical usage and returning valuable nutrients and water to the soil), and a stronger economy (farmers have enough left to sell for profit).
By engaging with and investing in the community, Mainsprings has created a sustainable and replicable model for agriculture reform. Now, the focus is to increase education access to farmers across the region and, therefore, to broaden the impact of permaculture across East Africa. Working together with the Tanzanian government to identify areas of need, Mainsprings began the development of a second campus in a village of Kahunda in 2016. Over the next decade, Mainsprings intends to complete this campus along with two other campuses in rural Tanzania in order to bring healthy, sustainable change to the lives of thousands of families across East Africa.
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