ON October 14 Tanzanians paid homage to Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the Founding Father of the Nation and one of Africa's renowned statesmen.
Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) in its tribute to Mwalimu said he had undying passion for agriculture and believed the sector was key to unlock the country's economy.
"Agriculture is the cornerstone of Tanzania's economic recovery and resumed growth," Mwalimu is quoted to have said. TADB Managing Director Japhet Justine, participating in a homage function held in Dar es Salaam, said TADB workers had great respect for Nyerere as a torch bearer.
Mwalimu was and still is a trail blazer, Mr Justine told his audience and continued: "Following his passion and belief for agriculture as key to unlock the country's economy, it is safe to say that Mwalimu would be proud to know that we have today in Tanzania a fully-fledged development finance institution dedicated to financing transformation of the agricultural sector the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB)."
He quoted Mwalimu's speech and observations to underscore the fact that agriculture was too strategic to Tanzanians' survival to be taken lightly.
"Agriculture is indeed the basis of Tanzania's development. We need to make it understood and meaningful. We have to demonstrate by actions that better agricultural methods are possible. We have to show and not say, we have to act and not talk," said Mwalimu during his life time.
Mr Justine said TADB was established in the belief that it would be a world-class model agricultural development bank which promoted agricultural transformation from subsistence to commercialised farming and agri-business for economic growth and poverty reduction.
At the heart of the bank, Mr Justine said, lied the agricultural players in Tanzania, especially smallholder farmers. It is worth noting that smallholders account for over 90 per cent of all produce that feeds the nation, and yet when you take a look into their livelihoods, the same is not reflected.
It is against this backdrop that TADB stands for and seeks to generate lasting impact especially in terms of delivering on the promise of improved incomes and livelihoods of farmers, livestock keepers and fisheries communities.
But he also admitted that agricultural transformation would not solely depend on agricultural lending, however big it was. We take cognisance of the fact that it takes more than finance to transform a country's agriculture.
As such, establishing and fostering strategic partnerships with key actors along the agricultural chain is central to TADB's operating model along a list of featuring the farmer, the input supplier, the agro-vet, the extension officer, the aggregator/trader, the agro-processor, the researcher, the non-state actor and the policy maker to name but a few.
At TADB, the farmer is an ever important partner and never a mere customer with whom to do business. It is ridiculous to focus on agriculture if we are not going to make any change in our old methods of cultivation, the hand hoe will not bring us the things we need today, according to Mwalimu.
Praising Mwalimu's vision on the importance of agriculture to Tanzania, Mr Justine said agriculture was Tanzania's wealth. Within Tanzania lies multiple billion dollar agri-economies, with each crop having the potential to become an economy of its own.
For instance, Tanzania has the potential to increase coffee yield threefold using the same area under cultivation. At varying degrees, the same is true for other crops and livestock produce. To achieve these great feats, farmers ought to be supported to adopt productivity enhancing technologies and support services to transform their activities into actual business undertakings.
During the colonial era and in early post-independence Tanganyika, the cooperative movement was very strong in coffee and cotton growing areas and Mwalimu appreciated that.
Mr Justine also tried to impress his audience that their bank had keen interest in revamping coffee and cotton production because the two crops were important cash crops for farmers and were significant foreign exchange earners.
As regards coffee, he noted that the bank had established an efficient and transparent marketing system for coffee with 189.5bn/- paid to 124,382 coffee farmers in the Lake Zone.
"With this market incentive in place, the second phase of TADB's coffee project will focus on facilitating production and productivity gains by helping farmers' adoption of modern technologies and methods of production."
On cotton he said the revival of two cooperative ginneries in the Lake Zone was a dual-mission. First, it was to breathe life into cotton production. Second was to provide financing for industrial upgrading and meet working capital needs.
"This," he said, "is a testament to the bank's commitment to farmer-led agro-industrialisation in the country. Such improvements and the production of new value added agro products will position Tanzania well to take advantage of the food and agricultural business estimated at $1tri in value by 2030.
Looking ahead, the bank is setting out to expand its impact on processing and value addition for high value crops, including cashew, tea and sisal and sustain impacts created in the coffee and cotton subsectors.
This unwavering drive to industrialise major agricultural subsectors will most certainly spur local job creation, increased income, and improved livelihoods of 58 per cent of Tanzanians employed by the sector and greater impacts on the broader economy through the multiplier effect.