Aussie startup sows the seeds of change in Africa

Three young West Australians have built a sustainable development initiative that is helping farmers in Tanzania grow stronger crops and escape from poverty.

SeedChange Tanzania is a local WA organisation exporting homegrown sustainability solutions; they provide oil palm farmers with genetically superior seeds, giving them the ability to produce crops with stronger yields. Furthermore, SeedChange Tanzania provides farmers with agricultural education and training. This sort of social and economic empowerment develops a more competitive advantage for Tanzanian agriculture that will open up new markets and more encouraging terms of trade over the long term.

More immediately noticeable however, is the financial implications of SeedChange’s work on local farming communities. Average incomes of under AUD$300 a year keep families living at less than subsistence levels; that’s around $5 a week to feed and care for an average family of seven children. With stronger oil palm tree yields, farmers are potentially able to earn an extra $275 – $3425 a year, which enables them to move beyond the poverty line and drastically improve their standard of living.

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Alex Chetkovitch, Arno Rohwedder and Andy Benn are the three lads behind this great venture, which started as a uni research project in 2012. For them it is not just about assisting those in poverty, it’s about giving them a sustainable future for their families and the Tanzanian economy.

In the broader context of sustainability, SeedChange Tanzania  is helping to mitigate food security issues we face over the next 30 years, to 2050 and beyond. Although it has a different scope than something like Project Sea Dragon, it nevertheless has the potential to provide sustainable solutions for a product that is used in an increasing number of products that we use on a daily basis. Whilst there have been problems with palm oil production internationally (namely deforestation and slave-like worker conditions) this endeavour is giving developing communities financial freedom, self determination whilst simultaneously diminishing the oil palm industry footprint by greatly improving products for existing farms.

You can read more about their seed nurseries on their Facebook Page – like them and help spread awareness about what some bright local talent is doing to make the world a better place. Keep up the great work guys – you’re a real inspiration!

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