Dar es Salaam — Tanzanian smallholder farmers are asking for more support to help them sell their produce.
Through an innovative poll, led by Farm Radio International, 8,891 farmers nationwide were consulted on their access to reliable, local markets. It was the first time that so many Tanzanian farmers were given a chance to express their opinions through a simple, free mobile phone poll.
The poll - which was conducted over a two-week period and broadcast by farmer radio stations - reveals the following:
- 65% of farmers do not feel that they have access to good markets for their harvested crops.
- 45% of farmers feel that agricultural strategies (through external help or programmes) have helped them to increase their crop yield in the past two years. 55% of farmers do not feel that they helped them.
- 64% of farmers do not think that Tanzania has done enough to support smallholder farmers' access to good markets.
- 44% of farmers want the Tanzanian government to provide them with more knowledge on markets. 31% want a review of taxes on crops.
- 70% agree that access to reliable markets would increase their crop yields in two years.
The findings are being released today at an event in Dar es Salaam, under the banner of ‘Do Agric, It Pays' - a continent-wide, grassroots campaign calling on African Heads of State to commit to reform and increase support to agriculture when they meet at the African Union Summit later this month. Do Agric was launched to mark the African Union's Year of Agriculture and Food Security and is supported by ONE, the Agriculture Non State Actors Forum (ANSAF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a number of celebrated Tanzanian artists, including A.Y. and Diamond Platnumz. A Do Agric petition asking African leaders to invest in agriculture and support smallholders has collected over one million signatures.
Commenting on the results of the poll, Japhet Emmanuel of Farm Radio International said: “The enthusiastic and widespread participation in the poll is in itself an indication that farmers want to be heard.
Farming is an income source for most households and a pillar of Tanzania's economy and yet, farmers continue to face real challenges to sell their produce.”
Audax Rukonge from ANSAF said: “Agriculture is the future for Tanzania and Africa. This poll tells Government exactly what is needed to help farmers - straight from farmers themselves. Helping farmers gain a better understanding of how markets work and creating a more supportive regulatory environment - including by reviewing taxes on crops - would help farmers grow more, boosting their incomes as well as food security and economic growth for the whole of the country.”
Dr. Sipho Moyo of ONE said: “By 2030, food markets in Africa are billed to be a one trillion dollar industry. By ramping up investment in agriculture, African leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to show that they are serious about ending hunger and poverty once and for all.
One million Africans have already put their name to a petition, standing behind these Tanzanian farmers, to call on leaders to do more to support agriculture and smallholders.”