Digging Contours at Fred Mollel's Farm

The second project that the team of college students from Belmont University did was carried out at Fred Mollel’s farm.

Fred Mollel proudly showing off his trees.

Fred Mollel proudly showing off his trees.

Most Tanzanians own land that is not optimal for farming. The best land has been taken for development, and poor farmers are left with the marginal, sometimes barely inhabitable, land.

Steep slopes.

Erosion.

Infertility.

Lack of water.

All of these things create immense challenges for farmers who depend on the land for their health and even survival.

Here, you can see the very steep slope on the land of this farmer.

Here, you can see the very steep slope on the land of this farmer.

Just a quick look at Mollel’s farm showed me that he has taken a piece of difficult land and already improved it through innovation and hard work. He has an impressive plot of agroforestry trees, beehives for honey, rabbits for manure, and GMCC’s from ECHO.

Mollel’s farm stands as a success story for ECHO’s training and as example to the community.

You can see contours, intercropping of maize and  lablab , newly planted bananas, and a protective thorn fence.

You can see contours, intercropping of maize and lablab, newly planted bananas, and a protective thorn fence.

His field of maize and lablab was located in the middle of two intersecting hills (a small valley). This is advantageous in the dry season, when water is scarce, but as soon as the rains come, the water threatens to wash all his work away.

What has he done to prevent that? He has dug contours and planted trees.

The contours are trenches along the field, stopping the water from carrying away the soil, and he planted grass along the contours to stabilize the trenches. There are bananas freshly planted throughout the field, diversifying his crops and creating an agroforestry system. And there is a large acacia tree, providing shade, stabilizing AND fertilizing the soil, and housing a beehive. He has a thorn fence around the parameter made of dead thorn branches to keep out passing livestock.

What a beautiful, innovative plot! 

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Our team dug another contour. It took the team only a few hours to dig a trench that was waste deep and a meter wide.

We then planted 30 fruit trees around the field. We intentionally chose fruit trees because of the many children that pass through the area. These trees will be able to provide extra nutrition and extra income at little cost to his family and the community.

This area will soon be a beautiful and productive agroforestry plot, providing over 15 different yields! 

The students with their finished contour.

The students with their finished contour.

The potential productivity of the land here is great. All it takes is a little education and access to some basic resources, and the land can be transformed from barren and eroded to lush and productive.

Thank you Belmont for your investment in the people and future of Tanzania! 

Fred Mollel wanted me to take a picture with him in front of his beehive!

Fred Mollel wanted me to take a picture with him in front of his beehive!