Symbol of light and freedom
Boaz Ogola on higher harvests, girl dormitories and the feeling of carrying a very special torch
Mr. Ogola, what role do you play in the Alliance Tanzania cotton company?
I am responsible for managing the day-to-day business operations, but I also represent the company in all government affairs and of course those relating to village communities. In addition, I coordinate, supervise, and manage the implementation of all CmiA projects.
Alliance Tanzania has been working with CmiA since 2014, and its first certificate was issued in 2015. How has your business developed since then?
Remarkable. Our employees are extremely motivated as a result of our efforts to promote decent working conditions, including gender equality. This leads to better harvests, high productivity, and a close relationship with the people who work near our factory, especially with those farmers who benefit from community projects. Our cotton intake has increased as a result of our commitment to contract farming, and cotton quality has improved enormously through training for farmers.
Alliance Tanzania is also committed to improving the livelihoods of cotton growing communities. Can you give a brief overview of the projects?
Together with CmiA we were able to realize a number of joint projects. The old building at the Kasoli Health Center was renovated and a maternity ward was set up to reduce the mortality rates of expecting mothers and infants. We also installed wells in various places and built water collection systems in schools, health centers, and vegetable gardens to improve the community’s nutritional situation. To improve the inadequate school infrastructure, we also put up twelve modern classrooms, 30 pit latrines, and a girls’ dormitory at Mwamlapa Secondary School together with CmiA.
Is there anything that truly stands out from your commitment to the village communities?
Our joint work and efforts for the Simiyu region have received a great deal of attention. We received a tribute visit by the ‘Uhuru Torch’ during the official handover of the classroom project and the ‘Busese’ water project. This torch represents freedom and light and is carried every year on a different route through the country. Being the national symbol that it is, it was a great honor for me to hold the torch.
Do you already have plans for 2019 to achieve similar success?
What really counts is that people’s life are getting better - the community still needs a lot of support, whether in terms of health, education, or water and sanitation. In 2019, our focus will be heavily on education. In addition to new classroom buildings for primary and secondary schools and the expansion of the girls’ dormitory with kitchen and dining room, we will also start building a vocational training center at Kasoli Ward, the region in which many of our contract farmers live.
In your opinion, which are the three decisive tasks for making the cotton industry in Tanzania fit for the future?
First of all, I would extend the concept of contract farming to a larger region in order to provide smallholder farmers with the necessary knowledge to increase their productivity. I would also provide quality training in sustainable cotton production to include good agricultural practices, conservation tillage or Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM). Last but not least, further support for the rural communities is needed by helping to ensure that the villagers are healthy and happy.