Jubilant MVIWATA Marks 20 years’ Anniversary
MVIWATA, Tanzania’s National Network of Farmers Groups this July marked its 20 years of existence in jubilation.
The four-day-long event that took place in Morogoro, MVIWATA’s home-town in Eastern Tanzania, from 23rd through 26th July brought together around 2,000 farmers and farmer group leaders from all the over the country.
The event was marked by three main activities: MVIWATA’ Annual General Meeting, on 23rd July 2013 where participants discussed and deliberated on different subjects around MVIWATA’s performance so far. A national workshop was held on 24th and 25th where different topics were presented on, ranging from Farmer and rural people’s rights, New Constitutional Process in Tanzania and how farmers are participating, Gender and governance etc.
The 26th July was the big day, the climax of the celebrations. Thousands of farmers, dressed in white and green T-Shirts, caps, banners and placards matched the Morogoro Municipal and literally brought the streets to a stand-still for some time. The demonstration ended at the Jamuhuri Stadium where the demonstration was received by the guest of honor – who was the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania – Dr. Mohammed Ghalib Bilal.
The event went on with speeches from different Government leaders and other invited guests from different organizations and MVIWATA representatives. Participants at the final day came from different sectors and institutions including MVIWATA members, Government Leaders and Officials, representatives from partner organizations, representatives from different Ministries and Government departments, Embassies, Members of Parliament, representatives from Trade Unions, the Media and Interns from different higher learning institutions. The day was concluded with different social activities and games by different participants.
In his speech, the guest of honor, the Vice-President first congratulated MVIWATA for their 20 years of success and growth and then commended their good practice of meeting regularly to discuss their work, success and challenges and how to face them together. The vice president mentioned that he clearly understands the role played by MVIWATA in building the nation, commending the stallholder farmers for the role they are playing in not only feeding the nation but also contributing to the economic growth.
He further commended MVIWATA for the building the capacity of smallholder farmers in fighting for their rights and access to markets for their products, for being able to reach such a huge number of farmers and beneficiaries, for facilitating market information access and for establishing financial credit institutions. The vice-president also told the congregation that the government understands the challenges faces by farmers in the country and that it was taking different steps to address those challenges.
MVIWATA has grown step by step from humble beginnings 20 years ago to reach nearly 150,000 members. MVIWATA’s work currently reaches around 2 Million Tanzanians creating platforms for smallholders to speak out and be heard through different platforms.
While celebrating 20 years of Success and achievements, MVIWATA and its members are, however, of the understanding that there is still a long way to go. New challenges keep emerging that need even more efforts, more energy, more resources and more unity among MVIWATA members and partners. Policy and legal issues around land that is much needed by smallholder farmers, seed sovereignty, conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, lack of proper financing mechanisms for smallholder farmers, inadequate extension and other much needed services are just a few example of the challenges that MVIWATA and farmers in general will still have to face – if a better, prosperous future for smallholder farmers is to be realized.
These obstacles that are yet to be eliminated in the way of success and prosperity for stallholder farmers mean that the role of MVIWATA of unifying farmers and leading the fight for their rights and development becomes even more critical than before. It is thus from this backdrop that it is the aspiration of the MVIWATA to become even stronger, expand its membership and its capacity to serve the members and respond promptly to issues in question that relate to the welfare of smallholder farmers.
At the end, MVIWATA national Executive Director – Stephen Ruvuga – thanked the Guest of Honor and all the participants for their full participation during the four days and that MVIWATA would do everything possible to make sure that it worked on all the propositions made by the participants on how it can better serve the smallholder farmers in Tanzania and strengthen its collaboration with other stakeholders – including the government.
For More Information about MVIWATA, visit their Website at www.mviwata.org