Over 100,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania’s major breadbasket zones are expected to more than double yields, access low cost fertilizer while finding competitive markets thanks to a host of projects meant to address food security.
The US$4.25 million funding comes from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and targets smallholder farmers in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania by improving their incomes, productivity and access to markets.
Farmers in the area have struggled with access to quality seeds and other inputs like fertilizer, poor markets and bureaucratic processes in access to financing.
On average 30 percent of the farmers use inorganic fertilizer and only 6 percent use improved seeds.
To overcome these challenges AGRA, with partners including Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Rural Urban Development Initiative (RUDI), Women in Social Entrepreneurship (WISE) and, DundulizaNetwork of Savings And Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) have worked together to design a series of three year projects to directly tackle these issues.
The projects which have been seamlessly arranged targets all aspects from farm to folk. To enhance farmers’ access to improved seed and inputs, the project will facilitate the training of agro dealers to increase their knowledge and confidence on the improved technologies. The project will also link agro-dealers and farmers to micro-financiers to make these improved technologies more accessible.
To allow optimum yields from the seeds supplied, farmers will also be trained on different farming techniques like Integrates Soil Fertility Management which increases cereal yields by upto 300 percent.
The practice involves the use of the strategic use of fertilizers combined with organic soil enhancers.
To ensure gains made from improved seed and management are not lost when trying to sell the produce, the projects will result in providing farmers with training in post-harvest loss management, access tostorage facilities and access to structured markets for rice, maize, beans and soybeans.
As a result of the intervention some 50 percent of the farmers are expected to embrace fertilizer use, from the current 30 percent while 30 percent more farmers will use improved seeds.
This while halving post harvest losses and reducing the distance farmers use to access agricultural inputs from 50 kilometers to 20.
“These grants take into consideration the whole value chain: from ensuring farmers have access to improved seeds and other inputs, training in the best soil management practices and output markets which,pay a fair price for their harvests,” said AGRA Tanzania Country Head, Dr Mary Mgonja
In welcoming AGRA’s annoucement, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Engineer Raphael Daluti said investments such as A RA’s , complements existing investments and initiatives occurring in Tanzania.
“This announcement builds on the work we are doing to secure the country’s food supply, in our initiatives such as the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) and our Input SubsidyProgramme,” he said.
Since 2002, agricultural production in Tanzania has grown 4.2 per cent annually and this year many farmers are expecting bumper harvests.
The funding will go to projects in several districts in the southern highlands region of Tanzania, including Ifakara, Kilombero, Kilolo, Kyela, Ludewa, Mbarali, Mbeya, Mbozi, Momba, Namtumbo, Songea and Sumbawanga.