Happy International Labour Day everyone! As Tanzanians celebrate this special day, we would like to acknowledge the men, women and children that work tirelessly on farms, in shops, in clinics, or within their homes in rural communities everyday. Thank you, it is your endless determination and strength that is helping rural communities thrive.
Sometimes I try to imagine what it’s like to live in one of the villages we work in. It’s a far-away world, so I’m trying to bring it closer by sharing information on current Africa Bridge projects. Take our Avocado Cooperatives. Some serious work is underway in all five of the new villages Africa Bridge is assisting, and it’s exciting to think that our Tanzanian friends are planting trees and thinking about the future that these green stone fruits will help them build.
Some background: as of this writing, all five Mpombo villages have established avocado cooperatives. Every farmer in each co-op received their share of 100 seedlings—high-quality fruit stock that will be able to withstand variable weather conditions while still making lots of avocados. These little guys will take about three years to mature. In the meantime, Africa Bridge (AB) is establishing a partnership with Rungwe Avocado Company (RAC), a medium sized locally-owned corporation, which provided those seedlings, and will offer training for the farmers in planting, irrigation, weed control, pruning and other aspects of agronomy. The cooperatives also receive support in the form of a small capital grant—in other words, money—so they can buy good compost and then pay people (local labor!) to dig and plant all those trees.
About 80% of the avocados exported by this company will be grown by small-scale farmers, including Africa Bridge co-op members. The trees are harvested twice yearly, with a small harvest in November and the main harvest in March or April.
–At age three, a tree will produce about 100 kilos of avocado fruit per tree.
–At age ten, a tree will produce 400 kilos/tree
–The maximum harvest, when the tree is at full maturity, is about 500 kilos a year.
–Trees can produce for about 80 years. If yields begin to slow on a tree, it is pruned back, which allows it to continue to be highly productive.