WORLD Food Programme (WFP) has launched a strategic food system plan aimed at supporting small scale farmers from farms in the value chain to market acquisition for their produce, especially sorghum, sunflower and soybeans.
Speaking of the plan in Mbeya region on wednesday, WFP Head of Sub-office and Programme Policy Officer Neema Sitta said the five years programme would see them also teaming up with banks for financial support and input suppliers to reach over 400 farmers in their target scheme.
She said the programme of food system from the farm to production would support the farmers to change their ways of production and link them with ready markets and in turn motivate and raise their livelihoods.
Elaborating, Ms Sitta added that the programme worth 15,000 million USD funds (equivalent to 35bn/-) would also incorporate horticultural farming to raise nutritious food in the fight against stunting growth, saying: "It is not only about food security, but growing nutritious food that is a necessity in the health of people... that is why we also train them in our agenda."
She further said their plan would also go along the Ministry of Agriculture- Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT)'s initiative that started last month and facilitated by MASTERCARD Foundation, focusing on youth to raise their livelihood through irrigation and financial support.
The officer noted that the Foundation will be run in Dodoma, Singida, Simuyu, Tabora, Shinyanga Mara, purely in the drought stricken areas, where the youth form the majority in the population and capable of revolutionising agriculture.
She added: "In our new strategic plan we have eight goals to meet namely in school feeding programme, nutrition, climate smart, environmental protection, feeding refugees, disaster management in the Prime Minister's Office as well as working closely with the government so that communities' lives are improved."
Elaborating, she noted that to ensure the farmers cultivate the crops especially, sorghum to the required standards, they routinely train them on the best farming practices and link them with financial institutions, like NMB bank that provide them with low interest loans and deducted on the parties agreed terms.
She added: "At present through the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme funded by the Irish government, we try to see into it that it becomes sustainable in the region, even after being phased out especially in the six districts of Bahi, Chamwino, Mpwapwa, Kongwa, Chemba and Kondoa in Dodoma Region, where for the 2020 to 2021 season they (farmers) successfully sold more than 28,000 tonnes of sorghum, worth 13.5bn/-, the money that was paid in cash to farmers without involving fleecing middlemen.
"Our expectation is to see sorghum farmers increase production for the new season, in order for them to earn more and enlarge their income."
Ms Sitta said their focus on sorghum farming was due to the crop adapting the climatic conditions of the region as well as soil. She assured residents not to worry of market that is also provided by the WFP that mills it locally at Masaka in Dodoma before transporting to refugee camps in Kigoma and South Sudan.
"In our programme there are also buyers that have entered the contract with farmers such as John Rainbow, Ali Juma and Tanzania Breweries Limited while WFP purchases the crop before transporting it to DRC ," she pointed out.
She further said: "The sorghum contains a lot of vitamins that are beneficial to the human body nutrition-wise as they help to fight stunting. Our future strategy is to increase productivity."."