FRB’s Land Rights and Food Security program, in Sengerema, Tanzania, aims to protect farmers from outside land acquisition by training them on securing titles to their land, and educating them on improved agricultural practices to increase their productivity.
One program participant, Samwel, farms seven acres to support his large family. He grows vegetables and other food crops on four acres, and on the other three acres he has planted 2500 pine trees he plans to sell for timber, projected to be worth $65 each when they mature in eight years.
Samwel and his father have been farming these seven acres for decades but, like most other farmers in Sengerema, they had no formal title to prove to the government, micro-finance institutions, or other farmers or investors that the land is theirs. This meant that Samwel could not use his land as collateral for loans, could not demand compensation if someone tried to take his land, and could not be confident in the security of his investment in the trees.
In 2011, recognizing the value of obtaining land title, Samwel was the first farmer in the village to put his name on the list of farms to be surveyed by the District government. Samwel learned steps he needed to take to get his land surveyed, and then how to apply for a title deed for a 99-year lease of his land. It was a long process but, in October 2013, Samwel received his official land title certificate and could not have been more proud to show it off to everyone in the community. He finally has proof that the land is his, and he can now use it as collateral for larger loans to improve and expand his farm.
Mr. Paulo, village chairman, said, “Samwel is the first farmer in the village to get the title for his land and we all worked hard to help him get it. Now all the farmers are very proud of him and see his success as proof that it is possible for them to get title for their land, too.”
Samwel further explained, “The government land officers told me that they want to see many more farmers pursue their land titles so that we can improve agriculture in the area. I expect others to follow me.” Samwel’s goal now is to expand his farm and increase his crop yields, using the additional revenue for his children’s school fees. Meanwhile, he is watching his trees mature and his investment grow.
Tanzania Sengerema encompasses 16 communities, 1760 households and 8800 individuals.