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The Mulbadaw neighbors want HDC back
The Mulbadaw neighbors want HDC back on CMSC and the Mulbadaw farm. They have developed a strategy in order to obtain this goal. In that connection they have asked the director of HDC, Halvdan Jakobsen, to make a statement about how HDC would manage CMSC and the farm if HDC should be asked to come back. The following statement of Halvdan Jakobsen is dated 14th sept. 2016:
to use of land and to food production in Hanang
Ever since the Tanzanian Government with capital and expertise from Canada established the “Basoto Wheat Plantations” in Hanang in the early seventies, there have been conflicts between the people living there and the “owners” of the plantations.
Lawyers, plantation-owners and politicians seem to refer to the conflicts as a dispute about ownership to land. The nature of the conflict is more a dispute over use of land; - a conflict between pastoral way of life and crop production. Formal ownership might be of much less importance than a good and functional relationship between the people owning the cattle and the people planting crops. Haydom Development Company Ltd (HDC) acknowledged this, hence the “Jirani Wema” (good neighbourhood) strategy that brought in the immediate neighbours as partners in wheat production at Mulbadaw in 2006.
From 2005 to 2007 I served as managing director of Haydom Development Company Ltd (HDC). Since then I have been fortunate enough to be in regular contact with former colleagues and with our partners from the villages along the border of Mulbadaw Farm. My latest visit to the area stirred and scared apparently the present Norwegian occupants at Mulbadaw. They apparently also tried to prevent me from seeing people in the area. They didn’t manage.
When the Canadians in co-operation with the TZ Government embarked on the big wheat production project about 45 years ago, more than 350 000 ha of the best land was taken away from the pastoralists using it for grazing cattle. The Canadian extensive strategy of wheat production, without using fertilizers, produced annually between 25 000 and 50 000 tons of wheat, depending on the rains. By then it contributed to about 10 % or less of the demand for high quality wheat in Tanzania. The best wheat farmers in Europe, or Zambia, are getting yields 5 times or more per ha. This is equivalent to 125 000 tonnes or more from an area as big as all the seven “Canadian” wheat farms in Hanang.
are these facts important?
At present, the total demand for wheat in Tanzania stands at about one million tons. The Tanzanian production is about 100 000 tons, or 10 % of the demand. The deficit of 900 000 tons is imported, using huge amount of foreign exchange. It makes good sense to invest in food production in Tanzania and save foreign exchange by closing the gap between demand and supply by food produced locally.
The big challenge is to use land more efficient; doubling or more the yields per ha of cereals and to establish more sustainable and productive food productions systems.
use of land - higher yields per ha
Many factors might influence the yield. Water and plant nutrients; - fertilizers or manure - are among the more important ones if the farmer has good and disease resistant varieties of the crops. Looking at the yields at Mulbadaw, Murjanda, Setchet and ..... farms, the average yields are not different from the yields obtained 40 years ago. The main production strategy is still rather extensive. There has been none or only negligible efforts in making the land more productive.
These farms are all owned and run by non-citizens through shareholder companies registered as “Tanzanian” companies. The mode of production is large-scale monoculture of wheat, using big tractors and aeroplanes for spraying pesticides.
One of the main objectives of HDC was to improve yields from the historic average yields in the area of less than 1,5tons/ to 3 tons/ha. The company hired a senior Tanzanian wheat specialist in breeding and production and established a research and development program addressing soil fertility and variety challenges.
The late Dr. Ole Hallgrim Evjen Olsen at Haydom Lutheran Hospital (HLH) suggested already in 2004, when the process of buying Mulbadaw was initiated, to construct shallow dams at Mulbadaw for harvesting of rain water and to use this for securing better yields of the crops. In 2006, HDC hired the services of Ingar Kvia and the soil moving equipment he brought to HLH to construct one shallow dam, in order to gain practical experiences with shallow dams at Mulbadaw.
The main wheat growing areas in Australia has a rolling landscape similar to that of the wheat growing areas of Hanang. HDC received a team of three Australian irrigation specialists from the wheat growing area in Australia where rain harvesting has become an important strategy for higher and more reliable yields of wheat. The team concluded that the landscape and rainfall pattern of Mulbadaw and Bassotu is ideal for rain harvesting. There is experience from Zambia indicating that rain harvesting and irrigation is profitable. One company investing in irrigation of wheat there had an ambition of getting 6 tons/ha from irrigated and fertilized fields. They got 10 tons/ha, - same yield as the best wheat growers in Europe are getting with similar inputs.
Sustainable production systems
There is much to be wanted in form of sustainability from what I see at present.
Much of the rain falling over the Basotu farms is lost from the production fields, flooding Lake Basotu in years of heavy rains. There is soil erosion and hence silting of Lake Basotu. Even in years with a high rainfall, crops might suffer during long dry spells and impede growth and development of the crops. Rain harvesting and irrigation contributes to sustain yield at high levels. Same amount of wheat can be produced using less land. Water harvesting might thus be a sustainable strategy for diversification of agricultural production systems, including other crops for proper crop rotations, livestock and useful trees.
Soil fertility and soil productivity
After more than 45 years with wheat, the infection pressure from wheat diseases and pests is high. Noxious weeds have been combated by spraying large amounts of glyphosate (‘Round Up’) on the fields before planting. Pests and diseases are sprayed from the air, using chemicals that might be harmful for the people living in the vicinity of the farm. Run off from the fields pollute drinking water for cattle and man. Crop rotation and proper soil cultivation might be a more sustainable strategy for obtaining sufficient control with some weeds and harmful diseases and pests.
The erratic and often insufficient rainfall cause low efficiency of fertilizers in most years, using conventional methods of application. Trials conducted by HDC at Mulbadaw in 2006 and at Setchet in 2007 demonstrated the tremendous effect of adding fertilizers to the soils of these farms, providing that the crop gets sufficient water.
A crop getting sufficient “food” in the form of fertilizer is much more competitive towards competition from weeds and damage by wheat diseases and pests.
Effect of sulphur and nitrogen (Sulphate of Ammonia) added to Mulbadaw soils in the container to the left. Same soil in the container to the right, but without added fertilizers, representing “natural fertility” of the Mulbadaw soils.
Halvdan Jakobsen, HDC Ltd.
HDC Ltd addressed the conflict of interests between neighbours needing land for grazing and food production by inviting them in as participants, - by realizing that they also have a right of ownership to the production on the land. “Josphines story” published in Arusha Times in 2006 illustrates the HDC strategy of “social sustainability”. Her story is the story of “Jirani Wema” – good neighbourhood – mentioned above.
The present occupants of Mulbadaw seem to have a completely different strategy for relating with the neighbours and original caretakers of the land taken for wheat production. They have closed and destroyed the road they have been using to reach Gichela and CMSC ever since the land was cultivated. They are chasing their neighbours, accusing them of “trespassing”, fining them millions of shillings for cattle “trespassing” without involving courts and the legal system; - i.e. taking the law into their own hands and sending police after them accusing them of trespassing.
There is no “Jirani Wema" anymore, inviting the neighbours in as participants in food production. The elders are complaining about being squeezed out from the land that their ancestors have used for centuries, being left with no future there. The young generation sees no future in staying, no opportunities for work and having a family there.
The Central Maintenance and Service Centre, CMSC, at Gichela used to be the hub for all the seven NAFCO wheat farms. The Centre provided training of people and serviced farm machinery needed for production on 2 800ha (70 000 acres) of wheat. HDC bought CMSC with an objective of doing the same, - providing training and services for farmers. The rehabilitation had started and services initiated when the Norwegian Lutherans occupied the HDC properties.
During the last few years I have been approached a few times by representatives of the villagers bordering Mulbadaw, - former participants of “Jirani Wema”. I have been asked about possibilities of having HDC Ltd back again at Mulbadaw and CMSC and developing further the “Jirani Wema” project involving the local population in using the land for food production.
A few years ago I was also requested to participate in developing a business plan for Basotu Wheat Plantation, the farm not yet sold or handed over to a legal entity that can own (lease) land.
One opportunity, all parts being co-operative, would be to “bring back life” to CMSC as a training and service centre for rural enterprises in the area. It would make sense to involve more the local population as partners in production at Mulbadaw, Murjanda, and Bassotu as a start. Gawal and Warret has been handed over to the village/local stakeholders, - and could also benefit from training and services provided by CMSC.
One of the main challenges of a “reborn” CMSC could be to look into opportunities for rain harvesting and construction shallow dams for irrigation.
Other challenges would be to look into production systems; - opportunities for establishing sustainable livestock production. HDC Ltd looked at it, and was advised that there would be a need of producing 20 000 litres of milk per day if for a UHT (Long life) milk factory. We started a communication with cattle owners in the area with an objective of discussing opportunities for earning more money from cattle, but the process came to an abrupt end by the illegal actions that chased HDC away from Mulbadaw and CMSC. Such discussions could be restarted, with a base at CMSC and people there with experience in livestock and dairy productions.
The present “dairy goat project” at Mulbadaw, was initiated and started by HDC in co-operation with SUA and the Norwegian University of Life Science (“the Agricultural university of Norway”).
The forest has been depleted in the area. Trees have been cut for charcoal and for giving space to annual crops. There is no doubt about the benefit of trees in a sustainable agricultural production system. The World Agro-forestry Centre in Kenya has vast and relevant experience in establishing and developing sustainable productions systems in with trees as an integrated part of the system. A “reborn” CMSC would benefit much from working with international partners and experts in Agro-forestry, both from SUA and from the centre in Nairobi.
Jakobsen, September 2016.
See Visions, objectives and
targets for HDC : http://www.haydom-dc.com/Visions,%20ojectives%20and%20targets.htm
and footnote 4 about “Josephines story” – Jirani Wema.
See my report from the visit here: http://www.haydom-dc.com/Report.htm
Information I am getting indicates that the Norwegians at
present occupying Mulbadaw paid a media reporter residing in Babati
for preventing publication of what the villagers in Dajamaeda said.
 Josephines story: http://www.haydom-dc.com/Josephines%20story%20eng.htm
Information that I received confidentially indicates that the
Norwegian bribed five members of the High Court, Land Division with at
total of 72 million Shillings for making sure that the court case
never was heard. The money was paid by the Norwegians to the
Liquidator of the farms and receipted as payment for the water pipe
from Mt Hanang. The water pipe was not an object to be sold, but was a
liability for the one who bought CMSC (which was HDC Ltd). The
Canadian Government had donated the water pipe to the people and
holders of the wheat farms on conditions that it was maintained. My
understanding was that the condition was that the private households
of farm employees should be supplied with water free of charge, the
farms paying for the maintenance of the pipeline.