One of the most successful ongoing community development projects at Singita Grumeti is the Grumeti Horticultural and Marketing Co-op Society (GHOMACOS), supplying the lodge kitchens with a constant flow of high-quality, freshly harvested, locally grown vegetables, herbs and fruits. Lodge guests are often surprised at the freshness and diversity of the juices, salads, vegetables, desserts and sorbets on the menus at Singita Grumeti, given the remote location of the five lodges and camps. Many guests are also appreciative of the fact that the food they’re enjoying is locally grown, benefits small-scale producers, and hasn’t clocked up unnecessary transport miles.
Launched in January 2010 with a handful of vegetable farmers and an annual turnover of around $74,000, GHOMACOS’s membership has grown to 53 small agricultural businesses active in eight local villages in the local communities. Business has grown dramatically since then, with last year’s turnover totalling more than a quarter of a million dollars; income that flows directly into local households.
GHOMACOS’s members are predominantly fruit and vegetable farmers, but also include pig, cattle and poultry farmers, egg producers, and bee-keepers. There is a dedicated GHOMACOS market place in the village closest to Singita Sasakwa Lodge, where members can display and sell their wares during the week. Here, drivers from each kitchen arrive to collect orders, and often the chefs themselves pay a visit to peruse the produce, checking quality and offering constructive feedback to the farmers.
Not only does this type of successful small-scale farming keep the lodge kitchens amply supplied, it has stimulated the local economy, provided self-sustaining jobs and, from a conservation perspective, reduced the community’s reliance on bush meat and illegal hunting by providing alternative sources of food for families. For many of these rural communities, the gradual shift from subsistence farming to practising farming as a business has been life changing.
Singita Grumeti provides support and training to all members in areas such as farming techniques, sourcing the best seeds and understanding the importance of quality, packaging, and timely deliveries. Training extends to administrative, financial and marketing skills, and Singita Grumeti also funds an annual financial audit.
Singita’s vision has always been to protect and preserve conservation areas in iconic wildlife destinations through the interrelation of ecotourism, community development and conservation. GHOMACOS is a great example of a sustainably run project in partnership with a local community. Members of GHOMACOS are experiencing tangible benefits from living in close proximity to the reserve, as Singita Grumeti pays premium prices for their goods. In turn, this encourages the local community to support the protection of wildlife, habitat and natural resources in one of Tanzania’s most iconic safari destinations.
Singita Grumeti’s other community development projects in the region include the Environmental Education Centre; a scholarship fund for local schoolchildren; and improved access to fresh water. You can read all about these projects here.