THE Norwegian government yesterday signed a $3m deal (about 8bn/-) with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) aimed at supporting the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA), an initiative aimed at affording smallholder farmers to access farm inputs and markets for their produce.
Norwegian Minister for International Development Nikolai Astrup signed the agreement on behalf of the Norwegian government, while UN WFP Country Director Michael Dunford signed on behalf of WFP.
The signing ceremony was held at Yara Fertiliser Terminal in Dar es Salaam.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, the visiting Norwegian minister said achieving the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) had been his government's priority, especially in terms of attaining food security.
He said his government was pleased to support an initiative aimed at affording smallholder farmers to access farm inputs and market for their agricultural produce in the country.
"Agricultural development will benefit smallholder farmers and I hope that development funds like this is a catalyst for the lives of smallholder farmers," he noted.
He thanked the government of Tanzania for its commitment to supporting the agricultural sector, saying ever since he arrived in the country he had frank and fruitful discussions with government officials, including President John Magufuli.
For his part, the UN WFP country director thanked the Norwegian government for the support to help smallholder farmers to work closer to buyers of their produce and access farm inputs.
"Farm to Market Alliance started in Tanzania three years ago and I am confident that with this initiative, we will achieve the target of reaching out to more than 1.5 million smallholder farmers," he explained.
The signing ceremony was also attended by Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Omar Mgumba, who thanked the Norwegian government for the support, noting that he was pleased to note that Tanzania and Norway had always cordial bilateral ties.
"We are optimistic that the funding will benefit intended people," he said, noting that the government recognises the role played by development partners in supporting the agricultural sector in the country.
He said the fifth phase government under the stewardship of President Magufuli was committed to transforming the agricultural sector, knowing that the sector stood a better chance to stimulate industrial growth and development in Tanzania.
FtMA is an initiative, which was established in 2015 by eight public and private organisations, including Yara International ASA, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Buyer, Grow Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC) among others.
Earlier, Yara Country Manager William Ngeno said the financial support was significant in the lives of smallholder farmers, saying Yara was pleased to be part of the Farm to Market Alliance initiative.
"Yara International ASA, as leading providers of sustainable crop nutrition solutions and supporting farmers profitably, are happy to be part of the FtMA initiative to uplift the lives of smallholder farmers," Mr Ngeno said.