Jembe Magazine; East Africa's Natural and Organic Farming Periodical

Jembe Magazine; East Africa's Natural and Organic Farming Periodical

Tanzania
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Jembe Magazine empowers farmers to be agricultural entrepreneurs. Our participatory and interactive periodical tackles rural poverty by giving farmers across Tanzania access to life-changing information. Jembe Magazine offers an environmentally and economically sustainable future for rural populations reliant upon agriculture. Our subscribers are leading a movement for transition to natural farming. Jembe improves rural literacy through the incentive of relevant materials that address issues farmers face in their daily lives. Jembe Magazine is a scalable market-based solution partnering with private advertisers that purchase spots to reach rural populations.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A number of factors combine making the need for Jembe Magazine especially acute in Tanzania right now. The government system of agricultural extension support has become particularly weak in the last 20 years. Agriculture methods, once included in the primary school curriculum, have been eliminated. In secondary school and university, they focus on industrial agriculture methods inappropriate for smallholder farmers. Most written resources for agriculture are in English rather than Swahili. 80% of the Tanzanian population is spread across rural areas, is dependent on agriculture, and speak Swahili rather than English. The effects of climate change are ravaging rural economies where the farmers are unprepared to adapt to the new weather patterns. The agricultural sector is also, on the whole, fairly disconnected as it is such a large part of the economy but very diverse and highly distributed geographically. There is an abundance of relevant knowledge in local institutions including research and academic centers, NGO's, government, and a few innovative farmers. Local and international preference for naturally grown produce and natural treatments make a strong market for such products. Currently, the pace of growth of the agricultural economy in Tanzania is half of the brisk 7% overall growth rate of the national economy. It is very common for middle class Tanzanians living in urban areas to invest in agriculture in their home villages. Jembe Magazine leverages their investment power by offering them the information they need to make informed decisions about their agricultural investments.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The magazine fills a need to develop long-term knowledge exchange between various institutions and farmers so that the whole agricultural sector can learn & adapt to new circumstances as quickly as possible. The periodical bridges the knowledge gap between agricultural institutions and farmers with very immediate opportunities to improve profitability and sustainability of smallholder farming and the agricultural sector. Other organizations train farmers directly with workshops, farmer field schools, or demonstration plots, or work indirectly through processors of agricultural produce to build capacity of the sector as a whole. Monthly magazines are printed frequently enough to contain up-to-date information on emerging agricultural threats and appropriate responses. Unlike radio shows, farmer workshops, or village meetings, the magazine can be edited for accuracy, be re-read and studied, and easily shared with neighbors and relatives. Supplementing the costs of production with relevant advertising makes the magazine a cost-effective model for efficient transfer of knowledge to a mass audience of poor rural farmers. The Fema and Si Mchezo magazines have already demonstrated great success in rural Tanzania for education and behavior change for healthy lifestyles and sexual health. We will be the first to apply the model to agriculture, where there is a great need and opportunity to bridge the knowledge gap, and more opportunity for subsidizing costs with advertising.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We spend much of our time in the field visiting farmers, agricultural extension officers, and researchers to collect stories and contributions of innovations, successes, best practices, climate and market forecasts, observations and responses to emerging threats to agriculture. In the office, we compile and edit stories from the field, supporting and linking them with current research. We arrange printing, maintain a database of subscribers, solicit advertisers, and manage a distribution system to subscribers, newsstands, and farmer supply stores. Our subscribers include NGO's, local, district and national government, rural schools and training centers, agricultural investors, cooperatives and societies, and individual farmers. These primary activities of the Jembe project are complementary to our other activities including village discussions and demonstrations, and on-site farmer trainings.
About You
Organization:
Evergreen Agriculture Tanzania (EAT!)
About You
First Name

Stephen

Last Name

Veryser

Twitter
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Evergreen Agriculture Tanzania (EAT!)

Organization Country

, MW

Country where this project is creating social impact

, MW

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Steve Veryser has been working in rural areas in Tanzania for over 5 years. In 3 years teaching a secondary school syllabus designed around theoretical examinations and preparation for white-collar professions, he came to envision a more effective curriculum for a country dependent on a rural agricultural economy.
In 2010 Steve was working with one of EAT's member groups to try to help them respond to the loss of cassava crops to an unknown blight. He wrote letters and travelled 60km to an agricultural research institute in order to identify the disease and learn how to mitigate it. The blight turned out to be the Cassava Brown Streak Disease, and we were advised to replace the common variety cassava with disease resistant cassava. Steve later found that the same problem was acute in many areas of the district but many people were not aware of the cause.
The cassava blight was only one of many examples where farmers desperately needed access to knowledge vital for sustainability and viability of their farms and livelihoods. Steve realized that by publishing the information in Swahili magazines, he would be able to reach a large number of farmers. Recalling his experience in formal education, Steve knew that the magazines would provide valuable educational materials for agricultural extension and education, with relevant and immediate applications to improve rural livelihoods.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

Jembe Magazine is a formalization of the knowledge-sharing process that our organization has been facilitating between our diverse member base over the past year. The reproducibility and scalability of the written word allows us to share this type of information with masses of the population. Our success is measured by number of paying members (annual subscribers), number of magazines sold each month, monthly advertising revenue, and growth in sales. In the future, we expect Jembe Magazine to be rated highly alongside other periodicals in the external Tanzania All Media and Product Survey and we will cooperate with academic researchers to assess Jembe’s impact on the capacity of farmers to adapt to emerging threats and opportunities in agriculture, including climate change. We also hope to see an impact at the national and regional level as policymakers and agricultural researchers learn of the challenges, needs, opinions, and successful innovations of our contributing farmers.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101-1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

We will scale up the printing, distribution, and reach of the periodical from Mwanza Region to neighboring regions of Mara, Kagera, and Shinyanga reaching over 50,000 readers monthly within the first year. In the second year, we will reach over 200,000 readers monthly by attracting subscriptions from countrywide NGO and Government farmer support agencies. In the third year, we will expand from our central base in Mwanza to neighboring countries of Uganda and Kenya impacting millions of farmers. We will be better able to facilitate impact in specific communities as the reader base grows. The established reader base will be connected through real time applications including our social networking sites and mobile phone feedback. Linkages between farmers and markets will be greatly improved.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

In order to establish the demand for Jembe Magazine we will need to heavily market the first two issues in order to reach as many readers as possible through free sample issues and advertising. We are currently conducting a capital fund drive to meet our start up needs. We're soliciting funds from friends and family, digging deep in our own shallow pockets, and soliciting advertisement sales. We anticipate raising sufficient capital needs as we enter the market through our first three issues to be released over the three trade fair holidays in July, August and September respectively. Saba-Saba is the July 7th international trade fair hosted in Dar es Salaam, Nane-Nane is the August 8th nationwide Tanzania agricultural trade fair, and the East African trade fair is hosted in Mwanza (where we are headquartered) in September. We hope to establish a large enough reader base to attract an advertising revenue sufficient to cover our operational costs by the second year of operation.

Tell us about your partnerships

We collaborate with the extensive network of NGO's, government and research institutes supporting farmers in Tanzania. An example of this three-pronged partnership in one district includes the district government of Missungwi, the Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute (LZARD) Ukiriguru, and an NGO called Mwanza Rural Housing Project (MRHP). The Missungwi District government administers the system of rural schools, health facilities, infrastructure, and agricultural extension support in the district. LZARD has developed appropriate seed varieties for common crops grown by smallholder farmers in Tanzania's Lake Victoria Region. MRHP has been involved in training farmers to adopt new high-yeild crops which are rich in nutrients, resistant to drought and disease, and have strong local markets. Our program complements the roles of our partners by providing a vehicle to capture the most relevant training materials from practical examples of farmers that have successfully adopted these methods and varieties. We work with the same types of partner institutions in other areas of the country as we expand operations to other districts and regions. As a market-based solution, these partners will support the expansion of our operations through magazine subscriptions, advertisements, and submissions of articles or information. Our partners benefit from our ability to reach a large audience of rural farmers and our network with other institutions.

Explain your selections

Friends and family have donated significant amounts of their time and have been generous with monetary donations to help us with start-up. They have been encouraged by the sustainable model of Jembe Magazine and my extensive experience in the local context. Businesses are attracted to our ability to reach large segments of the population and partner with us as paying advertisers. NGO's, also attracted to our ability to reach sectors of the population, likewise support us through advertising fees for behavior change related campaigns. Membership fees, or annual subscriptions, and cash sales of magazines drive our operations. Our competitive advantage over other type of media is our ability to reach the 80% of Tanzanian's living in rural areas. Considering that the electric grid is limited to urban areas, they are not reached well by television, or radio. The content of traditional newspapers is typically focused on politics and other subjects of little relevance to the rural subsistence-based population. Agricultural support organizations form a large section of our subscriber base through sponsored subscriptions for their beneficiary farmers. Similarly, regional and eventually national governments will adopt our product as an efficient means to reach the rural masses that they struggle to support through a limited number of extension agents.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We will continually grow the program through reinvestment of profit into growth of our operations. We anticipate significant profit growth, especially in the second and third years as we reach a favorable economy of scale by expansion of our regular reader, annual subscriber, as well as advertiser base. We plan to strengthen the project through the investment in the best writers, photographers, and editor available locally. Additionally, funding will be invested in finding and traveling to farms of greatest interest and potential benefit to large sectors of readers. We will also invest in ongoing training of staff in order to ensure our continued position as the premier source of organic and natural farming information. We will strive to always offer readers a regular supply of fresh examples of local innovation, relevant market trends, as well as timely weather, disease, and pest updates. We will accomplish this by establishing and strengthening relationships with other governmental and non-governmental institutions, establishing our brand and product as a preferred means to disseminate knowledge to farmers.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Lack of access to information and networks

SECONDARY

Lack of skills/training

TERTIARY

Restricted access to new markets

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Jembe Magazine leverages the farmers' own potential by making public the knowledge bottle-necked in the research, academic, government and NGO institutions in a market-based information vehicle. Access to valuable information will grant the farmers, agricultural investors, and support persons the skills to improve yields and access little known high value local markets.
This mass-market practical knowledge will serve to keep self-employment in small-scale agriculture sustainable and viable, reducing pressures of rural-urban migration and unemployment. It will also improve profitability of rural agriculture, thus indirectly improving opportunities for rural development and off-farm income.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

SECONDARY

Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

TERTIARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

We will scale up the printing, distribution, and reach of the magazine from Mwanza Region to neighboring regions of Mara, Kagera, and Shinyanga reaching over 50,000 readers monthly within the first year. In the second year, we will reach over 200,000 readers by attracting subscriptions from countrywide NGO and Government farmer support agencies. We will constantly expand our network of collaborating institutions to expand dissemination of best-practices by soliciting content from diverse sources and growing our institutional subscription base. By the third year, we will have expanded to neighboring countries and be impacting millions of smallholder farmers in the East African Community.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Our innovation builds networks and communication between government, technology providers, NGO's, smallholder farmers, research, and educational institutions. Our magazine investigates and reports the tools and strategies that innovative farmers use successfully to survive and thrive on an agricultural livelihood. These tools are developed and tested by our collaborators: research institutes, government extension services, NGO’s, businesses, and farmers themselves—our model has the capacity to disseminate knowledge to rural farmers in a timely fashion on a large scale. Collaborators buy-in to our innovative model with contributions of content, subscriptions, and advertisements allowing us to deliver agricultural knowledge to a wide audience of rural farmers in East Africa.