Sustainable Agriculture Technology

ABOUT US

SAT History & Mission Statement


In Africa, with Zimbabwe being no exception, agricultural productivity differs greatly between large scale agricultural enterprises and small scale farms. Major parameters that express this difference are yields per ha, the quality of any product as well as the maintenance of soil quality. SAT (Sustainable Agriculture Trust) was formed in 2007 with the expressed aim to bridge this divide.

Mission Statement


A Mission Statement was formulated:

  • To be the most efficient and effective implementing partner of sustainable farming projects in the Southern African region.
  • To ensure food security for participating farmers within the shortest possible time.
  • To ensure financial security through adequate production for participating farmers within the shortest possible time.
  • To help participating farmers to become self-sufficient.
  • To work within the framework provided by the Government of Zimbabwe, and to create individual and national wealth and employment opportunities
  • To operate as a non-profit making organization.
  • To access the best technical expertise and experience to transfer such knowledge, skill and expertise to the target group through highly trained and dedicated staff.
  • To build long-term relationships with donors and farmers through quality training and farmer support programs.
  • To support recoverable inputs credit schemes.
  • To follow principles of sustainable agriculture and Conservation Agriculture (CA).

In 2011 the process to register as a Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) was completed and SAT was listed as SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE TECHNOLOGY under registration number 09/11.

A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH


International support for the agricultural sector has focused mainly on seed and fertilizer assistance to increase yields and food security. In general, these interventions cannot achieve a full impact as they form only a single component of production (e.g. inputs, irrigation). Projects have to add value to these inputs by incorporating crop management, land use and marketing issues that link adequate food production to higher income generation of the household. As such, the main thrust of a project must be to increase overall household productivity and financial security through improved production as a result of improved management and the efficiency of land use. Field operations must focus on good management practices, including timely land preparation and planting, correct spacing of the plant population, appropriate weeding, fertilizing and plant protection. Tillage constraints are to be compensated for through the introduction of reduced or zero tillage and Conservation Agriculture (CA) technologies. These measures in combination with the input support are expected and have already shown to increase yield levels significantly.

In line with these parameters, SAT helps farmers to achieve:

  • Food security, quality and nutritional variety on an increased and stable level.
  • Surplus production for additional income.
  • Transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

SAT offers a unique combination of:

  • Daily services by a resident extension worker to solve day-to-day agricultural problems as well as management and financial decisions.
  • Demonstration sites to showcase crop rotation, correct fertilizer levels, livestock husbandry practices etc.
  • Regular field days to keep farmers informed about latest developments.
  • Logistical support for supply of inputs, including transport.
  • Access to micro-finance.
  • Excellent connections to companies that offer contract growing.
  • Use of Good Agricultural Practice’s (GAP) to increase and maintain fertility and water holding capacity of the soil.
  • Through excellent relationships with NGO´s, SAT is able to provide specific expertise for mainstreaming such cross-cutting issues as HIV/AIDS and gender in agriculture; protection of natural resources etc.

     

    Success

    SAT, since its foundation in 2007, has seen extraordinary growth and is today the largest local provider for GAP agricultural interventions in Zimbabwe.

    Total Households Assisted Per Year

    FUTURE PLANS

    Conservation Agriculture (CA) originated on large scale farming enterprises, mainly to deal with soil degradation. It developed into a “way of life” from there. Combined with sound management practices and environmental concerns, it can be applied to any farming enterprise in any region, taking into account the local problems. With its experience SAT can now offer its services to small scale and large scale farmers alike. SAT has close links with Foundation For Farming (FFF), a pioneer for CA in Zimbabwe.

    SAT´s proven methods of intensive extension and demonstration are also covering:

    • Livestock Management

      Improved livestock management, which includes simple breeding techniques leading to a healthy, more productive livestock unit. Pressure on the land through overgrazing etc. is removed. A well-managed livestock unit provides adequate nutrition as well as financial benefits.
    • Wildlife Management

      The commercial use and management of wildlife and natural resources can be integrated into the concept of sustainable agriculture, for the benefit of the participants as well as the environment.
    • Infrastructure development

      Through its partnership with the World Food Program (WFP) Food for Assets Project & GIZ DETA Project SAT is involved with borehole rehabilitation, road repairs, weir construction, dam construction and dip tank rehabilitation.
    • Extension & Training in Good Agricultural Practises (GAP)

      Technical extension services remain a critical factor for raising smallholder output, which is frequently insufficient to even meet subsistence needs. The extension services lack resources, experience and know-how for translating their technical targets into advisory contents tailored to the needs of the target group. Smallholder enterprises therefore lack the necessary strategies for appropriate use of agricultural inputs. Consequently, the ZEST project currently being implemented by SAT for GIZ and funded by the EU has addressed these needs through capacity support of public extension departments through the provision of equipment, logistical support followed by quality Training of Trainers (TOT) approach and the cascading of information and knowledge with sound extension tools (demonstration sites, thematic exchange visits, key handouts, mobile training, new technology) in order to meet the needs of the communal farmer to improve his outputs and ensure food security. We would recommend a roll-out of the principles of this project due to it’s impact and support from key stakeholders within the rural setup as well as at Ministry level.
    • Group Development: Farmer self-organisation

      Farmer self-organisation is key to improved performance in terms of food security but also marketing of cash crops. In the smallholder context, the formation of groups is one approach to minimise transaction costs for input sourcing and output marketing. However, functioning groups require sound, transparent and democratic guidelines and principles in order to create inclusion for every member and to minimise abuse of groups’ resources by individuals. Therefore, issues of defining joint norms and values, democratic and transparent principles and accountability are keys to improve bonding, bridging and linking of farmer groups.
    • Farming As A Business training

      Farmers require training in crop and livestock production models, value chains and cost benefit analysis in order to enable them to make sound business decisions. This, coupled with basic budgets, cash flows, reconciliations and annual record-keeping will strengthen their commercial potential.
    • Access to Information

      Through various Information Systems platforms currently being developed in Zimbabwe some farmers will have access to market, weather, finance and technical information crucial to their continued operations. A key area would be to explore means of expanding access by farmers to this information possibly through supporting district-level farmer group or business hub points with computer equipment, access to the internet and the relevant training in the use of the equipment and information as well as setting up a sustainable means of continued access once the project reached its conclusion.
    • Climate Change

      Zimbabwe has been identified as a geographical climate hotspot as it has to cope with higher rainfall variability and more unpredictable weather patterns in general. Therefore, adaptation to climate change including improved irrigation and water management practices become a must for smallholder farming systems. Increasing the resilience of farming households through appropriate farming systems including value chains is important to make them less vulnerable.
    • Partnering with the private sector

      The revival of a vibrant private sector in the agricultural sector is crucial for the sustainable development of the rural areas in Zimbabwe. The development of inclusive business models such as contract farming will contribute to strong linkages between smallholders and other stakeholders of the value chain. In order to reduce information asymmetries, the dissemination of relevant market information and the training of farmer groups in business skills are important prerequisites for a fair and transparent business relationship.
    • Mechanisation

      Up scaling of mechanisation (tractor and ox drawn ) planters and related equipment with regards to availability, training and implementation especially in the more productive regions. Conservation Agriculture (CA) mechanization is the next step for a small scale farmer to improve his livelihood, not only by providing easier ways of land preparation, sowing, weeding and harvesting, but by allowing the farmer to increase his cropping area through the use of CA machinery. Specialized concepts have to cater for whole communities, considering methods of CA at the same time.
    • Vocational training

      Not everyone in a community can be a good farmer but other skills are necessary to support the farming enterprises, e.g. mechanical, electrical, brick-making, latrine construction, road-building, value-addition of agricultural products etc and SAT can assist in providing this training.
    • Recently SAT opened offices in Lesotho and Swaziland and has implemented projects in Mozambique and negotiating with partners in DRC and Zambia.

    STRENGTHS OR COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE OF SAT

    1. SAT’s main advantage is that since inception in 2007 it has been conducting and implementing projects with and through the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Department (MAMID) according to the needs of the communal farmer and where possible providing logistical support to public extension departments in order to perform their task of providing quality training and information to the communal farmer. This long-standing relationship has resulted in letters of recommendation from MAMID and a MOU with the Ministry of Agriculture in order to express their interest in working together with SAT to implement programmes and has been developed over the years at National, Provincial and District levels in terms of good coordination, joint planning, collaboration and joint implementation and monitoring of projects.
    2. SAT also has knowledge of all districts in Zimbabwe, according to the farming systems of the different Natural Regions (NR) and has developed the required extension tools to conduct the relevant transfer of knowledge in order to improve the output of small scale farmers.
    3. SAT’s field school or demonstration site approach has been adopted by FAO and many other organisations as the most effective real-time training tool for small-scale farmers.
    4. SAT employs its hands-on experience to demonstrate good agricultural practices, innovative cropping systems and methodologies which can be used to improve and maximize yields and gross margins and ultimately shift households from the margins of commercial production to become profitable farmers who adopt a modern, market-driven and business-oriented approach to their farming operations.

    LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

    1. CA - Conservation Agriculture
    2. ECHO - European Commission Humanitarian Office
    3. EU - European Union
    4. FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization
    5. FFF - Foundation For Farming
    6. GAP - Good Agricultural Practice’s
    7. GTZ / GIZ – Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit /Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
    8. SAT – Sustainable Agriculture Technology
    9. SNV - Mozambique (Netherlands Development Organisation)
    10. WFP - World Food Program