Meet the people behind Action Africa, the initiative that enables 250.000 farmers, together with Yara, to feed one million people for one year in East Africa.
When he leaves his home for work or attend to everyday chores, Elibariki Benjamin Kimati takes off on his shiny red motorcycle, wearing his matching red flip flops. The dusty and worn tires reveal that the motorcycle is not brand-new, but the shiny silver frame and the red leather seat show that he takes care of it as if it were.
“When I wake up, the first thing I do is go to the mosque for the morning prayers. After that I come back home for breakfast, and then go to the farm,” he says. “I come home for lunch, and then I go to my other business, a retail shop. I sell ordinary wares and groceries, at the shop in the village centre, just to meet the need in the community.”
Elibariki lives with his wife and their two children in Kiomu, Kahe Ward, Moshi Rural District, Tanzania. On his farm, he grows maize, and dreams of expanding the farm from one-and-a-half acres to two or three more. “My objective is to become a good farmer, who follows the best practices, to get the needed farming supplies in good time, and to get good seed to plant.”
It is important for him to increase his earnings to be able to take care of his family. “My income from farming is not that large, it is quite meagre. Sometimes you have to do odd jobs to get money to meet your needs at home. My dream is to have a thriving family, a good house to live in, for my children to get an education and for my life to be good as well.”
One employee helps take care of the retail shop when Elibariki is working on the farm. Elibariki hired him because his poor hearing led to difficulties finding a job. In spite of his own modest means, Elibariki is understanding when his customers don’t have money to pay for their goods. “Village people’s resources are meagre. Most times we survive by borrowing, because these are people we know, they are neighbours, who will tell you that on that day they don’t have money, and they will make payment when they get the money.”
“Of course, you lose sleep as a normal human, because you are constantly thinking about how to make life better”
Elibariki has passionate ambitions to be a role model for the community. It is important to him that the people around him are doing okay and support each other. “We live in harmony with each other, and where there is a problem, we seek to handle it amicably. If there is ever a need, my neighbours are always available to consult with, and everything moves on positively.”
For Elibariki, Action Africa has the potential to have a real impact on his dreams to expand his farm and increase his income from the harvest. “The biggest challenge we face, especially us small-scale farmers, is agricultural supplies. For now, we can’t access them, because our resources are limited. You have to struggle to find the money to buy the fertilizer, and maybe by that time the season for that particular crop is ending. Then you are at a loss because the crops have to follow the calendar.”
Because of Action Africa, Elibariki is able to use the right inputs at the right time this year. “I have already done the first dressing, and for right now, the donation I have received from Yara has enabled me to put the fertilizer on the maize on time,” he says. “After registering by phone, the agricultural officer visited us, courtesy of Yara, and trained us on how to use the fertilizer, as well as how to plant and take care of the crops we grow. We are limited in our understanding of farming since we do it traditionally, so we require their expertise. And we anticipate a good harvest because of the training.”
Although Elibariki has his concerns about the future, he maintains a positive attitude towards the people of his community and the future of his farm. Elibariki looks forward to having new guidance that can enable him to make more of his resources, and to seeing the positive changes that he can help bring about. “Of course, you lose sleep as a normal human, because you are constantly thinking about how to make life better,” he says. “Some things look impossible, but you have to hope that soon things might change.”