The Only Greenhouse in Zanzibar

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania – Zanzibar has one greenhouse. Only one. And Ali Othman is the only farmer reaping the benefits of such a simple agricultural tool.

In his greenhouse, Othman grows anywhere from five to six tons of tomatoes in just an eighth of the space of a traditional acre plot farm. In his Amiran Farmer Kit provided by Zanzibar Agriculture and Development Incorporated, Othman gets everything he needs to grow tomatoes, including a specialized training program throughout the entire first season.

Usually a farmer will make about 10 tons of tomatoes in a season on an acre plot of land. But using a greenhouse, a farmer could yield five times the amount of produce in a season. It seems like a logical investment if a greenhouse will help farmers grow more produce, especially if they can make more money.

Money, though, is a big challenge. Patrick Micheni Njue, an Economist with ZAIDI said that a single greenhouse costs $4,000. With a majority of Zanzibarian farmers making around $250 a year, the greenhouse is unaffordable. If installed, though, the greenhouse would quickly pay for itself.

Despite the cost, Njue’s goal is to see the number of greenhouses expand in Zanzibar in the next five years. He wants the island to be able to feed itself with vegetables.

Greenhouses seem simple from a US perspective, but in places like Zanzibar these simple solutions could be life-changing. For another small innovation with a big impact, check out our Ask the Expert segment where Njue explains how seed trays can increase harvests. Then join the discussion below – what simple innovations are you using in your life? Are you using a greenhouse in your backyard?

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