Edson stands before his beef cattle on this 102-acre farm. Photo credit: Craig Davis/Africa Lead
Thirty-six-year-old entrepreneur Edson Enos Mfuru is an agribusiness consultant and manager of his own 102-acre dairy and beef cattle farm in Bomang’ombe. In addition to 136 cattle, he owns 138 head of sheep and goats, raises maize and sunflowers, and employs four farm workers-including three youth.
At a time, when fewer and fewer African youth want to become farmers, Edson’s passion for farming is interesting. “My dad took me to West Kilimanjaro … when I was thirteen… I saw these big farms, green to the horizon… Wow, I want to be a farmer,” Edson recalls. “I wanted to be a learned farmer… so I got a Master’s [degree] in Agriculture.” Over the past ten years, Edson has followed his passion.
In 2015, Edson returned from six weeks in the United States as a YALI (Young African Leadership Initiative) fellow with new skills, experiences, and fresh ideas that he wanted to apply in Tanzania. “I am lucky,” Edson explains, “to go to school and to travel a bit to other countries… to have this exposure of what other people are doing… I want to bring these models back to Tanzania.”
Despite all of this success, Edson finds plenty of challenges. The demand in the dairy market far outweighs what he can supply. “I can’t meet the demand at the moment… The plan was to get 300 liters of milk per day, but I haven’t reached a quarter of this.” The market for beef cattle and goats is good, but “we don’t have a very reliable market for sheep,” he says. Edson currently has 46 sheep that he wants to sell, but can’t find a good market.
Edson’s entrepreneurship drive goes well beyond farming. He does agribusiness consulting on the side and would like to open a camping ground on his property along the Weruweru River for campers and tourists. “I have two hundred acres of timber,” he explains, that should be ready for harvest in four to six more years. He also has 50 acres of land that he is developing 36 kilometers from Dar es-Salaam. In five years, he envisions owning 5,000 acres of farmland.
Edson realizes that to achieve his goals and maximize his potential, he needs technical expertise that will help him plan his business ventures strategically, gain access to new markets, and increase his daily dairy production. “I need someone to shape [me], to [help me] focus,” says Edson.
Edson enjoys watching his dairy cattle graze in his pasture on his farm in Bomang’ombe. Photo credit: Craig Davis/Africa Lead
Africa Lead’s (AL) support comes at an important time and complements earlier USAID investments by providing a technical assistance package designed to strengthen strategic planning and sustainability. Over the next six months, Africa Lead will help Edson develop a five-year strategic plan, marketing plan, and financial management plan. To help him with much-needed operating capital, AL will assist him in exploring the possibility of a social enterprise grant, such as an animal husbandry project for university students on his farm. Finally, Africa Lead will provide monthly business mentoring from a seasoned expert in the region.
Edson believes more Tanzanian parents should stimulate their children’s minds like his father did. “Take your kids to the airport to see the planes,” he says. “Maybe they will say, ‘I want to be a pilot’. Or take them to the hospital. They will say, “Hey, I want to become a doctor.”