In 2010, a Zinduka women’s group based in the Mshewe village in the Mbeya region of the southern highlands of Tanzania was established. The mission of the women was to support one another through agricultural production and sales of their agricultural goods, to become economically empowered and to serve as a shining example in their community.
The group chose the common bean as the main crop because of its potential to uplift livelihoods by providing quick income. Before establishment of this group, production for beans was very low (300 kilograms per hectare) as result of inadequate knowledge of good agronomic practices and poor seed technology, among other reasons.
This observation is summarized by Miss Witness, the group chairperson, who said, “After analyzing several crops, as a group, we decided to grow beans as the most promising crop for business even though we grow other crops such as maize, soybean, tomato, rosella and papaya.”
The Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) Uyole research institute worked with this group as a bridge to reach other farmers through evaluation and promotion of new technologies. The initiative turned out to be a learning platform to a majority of value chain actors. In the process, the group realized the existing challenge of seed accessibility, especially quality seed of improved common bean varieties. Zinduka, which means “turn around,” decided to turn a gap into an opportunity and they ventured into seed production. They approached the TARI Uyole to advise them on where to access quality seeds of improved varieties and train them on better bean farming methods and production of quality seed to sell to other neighboring farmers.