MORE than 100,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania will benefit after yesterday's announcement of US$4.25 million (about 6bn/-) in projects to strengthen agricultural productivity in the country.
The funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) aims to improve incomes, productivity and access to markets for farmers in the southern highlands covered by the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) initiative.
Availability of quality seed and inputs as well as poor market access and difficulty securing finance are major inhibitors to agricultural productivity in Tanzania and most of sub-Sahara Africa.
The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Rural Urban Development Initiative (RUDI), Women in Social Entrepreneurship (WISE) and Dunduliza Network of Savings And Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) have worked together to design a series of three year projects to directly tackle these issues.
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.
The use of better inputs go hand in hand with improved management practices, and through the project over 90,000 farmers will be trained on practices such as Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM).
ISFM can increase cereal crops yield by up to 300 per cent and legume crop yields by 100 per cent, and involves the use of the strategic use of fertilizers combined with organic soil enhancers. farmers use fertilizers efficiently and in combination with organic soil ameliorating inputs.
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 to storage facilities and access to structured markets for rice, maize, beans and soybeans.
AGRA Tanzania Country Head, Dr Mary Mgonja, says the grants announced aim to improve productivity from seeds to access to markets.
"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," Dr Mgonja said.
In welcoming AGRA's annoucement, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Engineer Raphael Daluti said investments such as what was being announcing today, 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 Subsidy Programme," he said.
"But it also adds to the work occurring through SAGCOT, which is helping us achieve a food secure Tanzania," he said. AGRA's Director for Market Access Programme (MAP), Mrs Anne Mbaabu, said the funding will help ensure continued agricultural growth in Tanzania.
The funding will go to projects in several districts in the southern highlands regions of Tanzania, including Ifakara, Kilombero, Kilolo, Kyela, Ludewa, Mbarali, Mbeya, Mbozi, Momba, Namtumbo, Songea and Sumbawanga.