Baltazari knows what it means to struggle: the farmer from Nyasa district, Tanzania, works hard to provide for his six children by growing maize, cassava, and sesame. Yet, despite his labors, he had lower crop yields and couldn’t earn enough to support them.
“I could not afford rent, medical care, or buy other necessities. I believe this was because I did not progress far in my education. I stopped after I completed my primary level education due to lack of school fees.”– Baltazari
Baltazari’s circumstances improved after he learned of cassava seed entrepreneurship and started working with the BEST Cassava project. As part of the project, he received training on more efficient agronomic practices. After his training course, Baltazari put his knowledge into action. He started to grow improved cassava seeds in 2018 on his two acres (.80 hectares); now he owns six acres (2.4 hectares). When he first became a cassava seed entrepreneur, he encountered resistance from his fellow villagers because they did not see the value in buying cassava seeds. Buying cassava seeds was also a new concept for them. Despite their attitudes, he refused to give up. He continued to promote his seeds through events such as farmer field days and by attending the “Nane Nane” (Swahili for ‘eight eight’) Farmer’s Day exhibition, which assisted him in finding many buyers.
But then crop disease struck and greatly affected his fellow villagers’ crops. Over time, this setback made his fellow villagers see the importance of improved cassava seeds. As a result, Baltazari’s peers bought seeds from him. Through the money earned from his cassava seed enterprise, he was able to build a house for his family, buy a motorcycle, and expand his farm. He was also able to meet his family’s basic needs and pay for his children’s school fees. For his hard work, he was recognized as the best cassava seed farmer for Ruvuma region and came in second place for the wider Southern Zone of Tanzania in the 2019 Nane Nane Exhibition.
Baltazari attributes his success to his hard work. His goal is to be the best farmer in the zone. He encourages other farmers in his village to become cassava seed entrepreneurs so it can change their lives too.
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