JGI’s Community Microcredit Programs Expand Horizons for Sustainable Development  

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In Tanzania, JGI has long supported community-managed funds to support sustainable development, and in 2021, through the Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT) project, this work grew in new ways including 17 new COCOBA (community conservation banking) groups in the first quarter alone! Each COCOBA group selected a community leader to be trained on general management, problem-solving, how to manage shares, handle passbooks, and more. These microcredit groups invest in livelihoods that offer alternatives to those that would be detrimental to habitat conservation, particularly in Mishamo and Katumba Settlements where agricultural expansion presents a very high threat to the Tongwe West and East Forest Reserves. Among the sustainable alternative livelihoods supported by COCOBAS in the region, beekeeping, mushroom collection, and coffee growing have been widely embraced and highly successful.   

JGI’s LCWT private sector partner Upendo Honey registered 166 new landscape beekeepers last summer, and all have participated in honey production training. At the end of the buying season, Upendo had purchased over 52 tons of honey from 202 beekeepers in Western Tanzania. Forty-three new beekeeping groups with 597 members have recently been added. LCWT continued its collaboration with private sector partner Upendo Honey and worked to consolidate information on beekeepers, spatial data on forests producing honey, and identifying LCWT areas where Upendo could expand its beekeeper network. Since August 2021, Upendo has registered 166 new LCWT landscape beekeepers and provided organic honey production training. At the end of the buying season, Upendo purchased over 52 tons of honey from 202 beekeepers in the LCWT landscape, bringing more than $87,000 into the community. More recently, LCWT, in collaboration with local district councils, formed 43 new beekeeping groups whose chosen leaders were trained on beekeeping husbandry principles. 

The COCOBA project facilitated the formation of 18 new wild mushroom collection groups. These groups trained in leadership selection and then elected their leaders. They also learned record-keeping to track income and production. 

Finally, The Kanyovu Coffee Cooperative continues to promote high yield coffee varieties to farmers, supporting the establishment of five coffee seedling nurseries in different villages. These nurseries have already produced 100,000 seedlings. Once the seedlings are ready to harvest, they will be distributed among Kanyovu Cooperative’s members for production. 

To help farmers improve soil fertility and respond to a changing climate, the project has established 20 Climate Smart Agriculture demonstration plots in villages situated in and between the Mishamo and Katumba settlements. The demo-plots serve as communication hubs for the community to learn best agronomical practices for improving soil health and on-farm production. Loss of soil fertility contributes significantly to the practice of shifting agriculture leading to the loss of riverine forests, a critical chimp habitat. 

About Author

Kira is a Communications & Policy Assistant at the Jane Goodall Institute, where she supports the team in advancing public engagement with JGI's holistic programs. Kira graduated from Smith College in 2021, majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history, and during her time there she developed a deep interest in the field of anthrozoology. Her interests within this field are broad, and have led her to study elephant iconography in the U.S. and wildlife management in Tanzania. JGI's values and mission as well as the mindset of anthrozoology guide her work, exploring the interactions between humans and other animals in order to promote a healthier coexistence on this shared planet.