Case Study — Victoria Petro

Farming as a business with GAFCo has given Victoria a vision of how she can grow as a businesswoman.

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Victoria Petro, 55, is a determined and serious woman who has been growing rain-fed crops her entire life. She recently moved to the fertile valley of Mwada in search of better farming opportunities, and is now farming with GAFCo. Victoria gave birth to her first child at the tender age of 14 and has since single-handedly raised 5 children while simultaneously working hard at farming and becoming a community leader known for being open to new ideas and opportunities. Despite the strains of unpredictable weather that might result in plentiful harvests one season and complete crop failure the next, Victoria does not feel held back by her environment, gender, or situational circumstances. Rather, it is her financial inability to purchase her own farmland that concerns her the most. Victoria farms on 13 acres of land, which she rents for TSH650,000 (US$286) per season. She must pay rent for that land whether or not she earns any money from her crops. In order to mitigate the risk of crop failure from drought, flood, disease or pests, she farms separately in four fields in different villages, the furthest being a one and a half hour walk from her home.

In January of this year, Victoria started farming two acres of sunflower seed with GAFCo. “I’m not only receiving training on how to plant and care for my sunflowers, I am also working with higher quality seeds,” Victoria says. She goes on explaining that she feels the winds are finally changing. “I’m especially happy because I’ve gotten a loan for harvesting from GAFCo.” Victoria can now hire farm laborers to help with harvest, meaning she can farm a greater number of acres and earn higher income. GAFCo strives to bridge the gaps that prevent determined farmers like Victoria from being as productive as they can, providing access to improved seeds, mechanized equipment, loans to help purchase inputs and prepare fields, loans for harvest, training on good agricultural practices and stable fixed-price contracts for high-value export markets in Europe. She tells GAFCo, “My neighbors see the difference between my crop and theirs, and they are starting to ask how they can also have access to seeds as good as mine!”

Giving a hand up rather than a hand-out, GAFCo is pleased to play a role in helping small-holder farmers realize their dreams. “I plan to grow my business once I can purchase my own land from my profits,” says Victoria. “I want to own 10 acres of my own, someday, so all my children can finish their schooling and get better jobs.”