GAGGAN & aNDONI x tANZANIA, ParT 3: sunflowers
After lunch, the chefs met with Maasai sunflower farmer Timothy Stone and his wife Joyce. The husband and wife team has been battling difficult weather conditions to grow sunflowers for the last ten years.
When Timothy met the chefs it was raining and he was grinning from ear to ear, welcoming both the intrigued guests and the much-needed rain. The traditional variety of sunflower he has been growing for years is thirsty and dry weather conditions have cut the size of his sunflower harvest.
With support from Farm Africa, Timothy has dedicated half of his farm to a new hybrid sunflower seed, which produces flowers with larger, drought-tolerant heads. Unlike the traditional relative he’s been growing for years, the hybrid sunflower is performing extremely well, despite the difficult conditions.
Timothy’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed, 100 local farmers want to buy hybrid seeds next year. He is now acting as a model farmer to inspire other farmers to adopt hybrid seeds.
“There was a drought after I planted, the hybrid plants survived. This gives me hope. I now come to the farm to relax, as I’m happy to see something different from the previous ten years.”
The chefs visited the Mzalendo Oil mill in Babati town, where Timothy and other farmers add value to their sunflower seeds by milling them into various grades of sunflower oil. While the chefs visited, a steady stream of customers arrived to buy oil.
The seeds are first put through a machine outside, which removes the seeds’ husks. Then the seeds go into a press – a red machine, which fittingly for Gaggan had the name Anand stamped on the side.
The trip highlighted to the chefs the urgent need to invest in sustainable agriculture, which is crucial to ending poverty, ensuring food security and enabling rural food producers to adapt to climate change.