COP28 and Beyond: President Samia and AGRA Chair Drive Tanzania’s Commitment to Transforming Agriculture with Global Support

By Anthony Muchoki

In an event showcasing Tanzania’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and green growth, the Tanzania High-Level Side Event at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai brought together influential leaders and experts. This pivotal meeting, led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and co-chaired by Hailemariam Desalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and current Chair of the AGRA, aimed to explore transformative opportunities in agriculture for Tanzania’s green growth.

President Samia, known for her forward-thinking approach to food systems emphasized the significance of agriculture in Tanzania’s economic landscape, while underscoring the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change. Her co-chair, Hailemariam Desalegn, with his extensive experience in leading agricultural transformations in Ethiopia, brought a wealth of knowledge and insight to the discussions.

The event highlighted Tanzania’s potential as a leader in sustainable agricultural practices, focusing on innovative strategies to foster green growth. Discussions centered on leveraging technology, sustainable farming practices, and international cooperation to transform Tanzania’s agricultural sector into a model of sustainability and resilience.

Minister Hussein Bashe Highlights Tanzania’s Agricultural Milestones at COP28

Hussein Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, provided an insightful overview of the nation’s recent initiatives in the agricultural sector. His speech, directed to an audience that included President Samia Suluhu Hassan and various global development partners, underscored Tanzania’s progressive steps towards sustainable agriculture.

Minister Bashe began by acknowledging President Samia’s pivotal role in launching transformative agricultural projects. He referenced the BBT program, a major initiative aimed at bolstering Tanzania’s agricultural sector. Launched last year under President Samia’s guidance, the program has been a cornerstone in the nation’s agricultural strategy.

Further elaborating on the government’s efforts, Minister Bashe highlighted the recent launch of the ‘Farmer Borehole Project’ in August. This initiative, part of the larger Environmental Protection Program, aims to significantly expand irrigation projects across Tanzania, providing a lifeline to smallholder farmers grappling with the challenges of climate change.

The Minister also noted the substantial financial backing from international partners, including a $100 million contribution from the African Development Bank for the BBT program and a $300 million support from the World Bank for the ongoing P4R (Program for Results) project. This funding is part of a broader, ambitious seven-year plan, which requires a total investment of $1.6 billion, focusing on irrigation and support for smallholder farmers as a key aspect of the BBT program.

To visually encapsulate these efforts, the Minister announced the screening of a 5-minute animation documentary, providing the audience with a vivid representation of Tanzania’s agricultural initiatives. This was to be followed by a 2-minute investment documentary, further emphasizing the nation’s commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

Documentary Highlights the Struggles and Triumphs of Tanzanian Agriculture

The poignant documentary captured the essence of the agricultural challenges and transformations in Tanzania. It centered around the life of Bwana Juhudi, a smallholder farmer, portraying the stark realities faced by many in rural Tanzania.

Bwana Juhudi’s story, set against the backdrop of his humble mud hut, is a familiar narrative in rural Tanzania. With his wife and six children, Juhudi’s daily life revolves around concerns about unpredictable weather and the impact of climate change on agriculture. The family’s dependence on a single season of rain illustrates the precariousness of their situation.

The documentary showed the momentary relief brought by the rains, allowing Juhudi and his wife to work their land with traditional hand hoes. However, this relief was short-lived. Scarce rainfall led to a meager harvest, illustrating the harsh reality of rain-fed agriculture and its inadequacies in the face of changing climatic conditions.

From Desperation to Hope: The Turnaround

The documentary took a hopeful turn with the intervention of Mr. Tumaini, a community member who stopped Bwana Juhudi from cutting down trees for charcoal, a desperate measure to sustain his family. The introduction of a borehole and irrigation equipment marked a significant transformation. The family’s fortunes improved, evidenced by better crop yields, new school supplies for the children, and overall improved living conditions.

Tanzania’s Agricultural Transformation

The documentary broadened its scope to highlight the Tanzanian government’s initiatives under President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s leadership. The focus was on the ambitious Visionary agenda 10:30, targeting a 10% growth rate for the agricultural sector by 2030. This strategy involves diverse aspects, from crop diversification to embracing cutting-edge technologies, all aimed at bolstering food security and economic prosperity.

Significant investments in irrigation, seed multiplication, and promoting agribusiness among women and youth were showcased. The Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT) program, large-scale irrigation schemes, and seed multiplication initiatives underscore Tanzania’s commitment to transforming its agricultural landscape.

A Call for Global Investment and Collaboration

The documentary makes a powerful call to action, inviting global partners to invest in Tanzania’s green technology and sustainable practices. It painted a picture of a nation poised for agricultural growth and resilience, inviting stakeholders to join in crafting a sustainable future.

Minister Bashe Welcomes Distinguished Guests at COP28 Agriculture Event

In a gesture of warm hospitality and recognition of the significance of the gathering, Hussein Mohamed Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, took a moment to acknowledge the guests present at the Tanzania High-Level Side Event at COP28 in Dubai.

Minister Bashe extended a special welcome to the notable figures in the realm of agricultural transformation. He acknowledged the presence of Hailemariam Desalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the Chairman of the Board -AGRA. Desalegn’s extensive experience and leadership in agricultural development, particularly in the context of Ethiopia, lent considerable weight to the discussions of the day.

Furthermore, Minister Bashe recognized the presence of Dr Agnes Kalibata, the President of AGRA. Kalibata’s role and contributions to agricultural advancement on the African continent have been significant, making her presence at the event particularly noteworthy.

With these acknowledgements, Minister Bashe set the stage for the opening statement of the event. His invitation to President Samia to deliver the opening remarks.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s Visionary Address at COP28

In a powerful and inspiring address at the Tanzania High-Level Side Event at COP28, President Samia Suluhu Hassan articulated Tanzania’s challenges and aspirations in the realm of sustainable agriculture and climate action.

President Hassan began her speech with a warm welcome to the assembled dignitaries and partners, acknowledging the presence of key international organizations and development partners. She expressed her gratitude towards the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the African Development Bank (AfDB), among others. Her acknowledgment of these organizations underscored the importance of global cooperation in tackling the challenges at hand.

Addressing the Dual Challenge of Climate Action and Sustainable Development

President Hassan highlighted the complexity of striking a balance between climate action and sustainable development in Tanzania, a country with a population of 61 million, predominantly youth, relying on rain-fed agriculture. She emphasized the pressing need to scale up sustainable agricultural practices to combat the adverse effects of unpredictable weather patterns and the consequent reliance on practices like deforestation for survival.

President Hassan made a poignant appeal to the global community for support and cooperation. She outlined Tanzania’s ambitious plan to mobilize $1.8 billion over the next seven years for sustainable agricultural transformation, mentioning the support already received from the World Bank under the P4R program and the AfDB for the ‘Building a Better Tomorrow’ initiative for youth and women.

Envisioning Tanzania as a Food Hub and Job Creator

The President expressed Tanzania’s intention to become a hub for food production in Eastern and Central Africa. She set a target for the agricultural sector to grow by 10% by 2030. Central to this vision is the BBT program, which focuses on increasing agricultural productivity and environmental protection through initiatives like expansive irrigation systems. She underscored the program’s dual focus on job creation, particularly for the youth, and environmental sustainability.

President Hassan extended an invitation to development partners, the private sector, and other organizations involved in agricultural promotion to collaborate with Tanzania in realizing its goals. She emphasized that Tanzania is ready to work with all willing partners in this endeavor.

AGRA Chairman Hailemariam Desalegn Commits Support to Tanzania’s Agricultural Vision

Following the visionary address by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the stage was set for Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and current Chairman of the AGRA Board, to share his insights and commitments.

Emphasizing Tanzania’s Central Role in Africa’s Agricultural Transformation

Mr Desalegn opened his remarks by acknowledging Tanzania’s crucial role in spearheading agricultural and food system transformations in Africa. He expressed his firm belief in Tanzania’s capability to not only feed its population but also extend its agricultural reach to feed Africa and beyond. This confidence stemmed from Tanzania’s vast agricultural potential coupled with the strong leadership currently at the helm.

AGRA’s Support for Tanzania’s Youth and Agricultural Programs

Highlighting AGRA’s role as a Pan-African institution, Mr Desalegn reaffirmed AGRA’s commitment to supporting Tanzania’s agricultural programs, particularly those involving the youth, such as the BBT (Building a Better Tomorrow) initiative. This support aligns with AGRA’s broader goal of fostering sustainable agricultural growth across the continent.

A significant highlight of Mr. Desalegn’s speech was the announcement of a cooperative effort between AGRA and Global Climate Finance. This initiative aims to address post-harvest loss issues in seven African countries, including Tanzania. The commitment of 100 million US dollars for these countries marks a substantial investment in combating one of the critical challenges in the agricultural sector, ensuring that more produce reaches markets and contributes to food security.

A Call for Continued Collaboration and Support

Mr. Desalegn extended his gratitude for the invitation to the event and called upon all stakeholders to continue supporting and participating in such transformative agricultural initiatives. His message underscored the importance of collaboration and concerted efforts in achieving sustainable agricultural development in Tanzania and across Africa.

African Development Bank Praises Tanzania’s Agricultural Efforts and Pledges Support

Introduced by Hussein Mohamed Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Beth Dunford, the Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), took the podium to address the distinguished attendees at the COP28 side event.

Dr. Dunford began by commending the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania for its extensive efforts to foster agricultural opportunities for green growth, particularly in the agriculture sector. She lauded President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s vision for agriculture as a pivotal economic and development priority, highlighting its significant impact on the Tanzanian people.

Announcing Financial Commitment to Tanzania’s Youth Initiative

Dr. Dunford reflected on the recent Africa Food Systems Forum held in Dar es Salaam, where the AfDB announced a $100 million commitment to support Tanzania’s ‘Building a Better Tomorrow’ youth initiative for agribusiness. She emphasized the program’s focus on empowering youth in the agriculture sector by providing them with essential skills and technologies for sustainable and improved livelihoods. The AfDB’s pride in supporting this initiative was evident in her speech.

Dr. Dunford further mentioned Tanzania’s Food and Agriculture Delivery Compact as a critical component of the country’s agricultural strategy. Born out of the dear 2 Summit co-hosted by the bank, these Food Systems boosting compacts aim to find African solutions to the continent’s food security challenges. She noted Tanzania’s significant move of tripling its budget for agriculture as a testament to its commitment to the sector.

Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change

Highlighting the importance of climate-smart initiatives, Dr Dunford pointed out how programs like the AfDB’s climate-smart and Seed Focus technology for African agricultural transformation are helping Tanzania become more food resilient. She stressed the importance of adopting agriculture technologies, such as heat-tolerant and pest-tolerant seed varieties, to prepare youth for lucrative careers in agribusiness.

The Vision of Economic Growth and Green Job Creation

Dr. Dunford asserted that agricultural value chain growth leads to economic growth and the creation of green jobs in agribusiness. Such growth can result in higher-yielding harvests, more affordable and nutritious food, increased incomes, and overall improvement in the quality of life for Tanzanians.

Dr. Dunford commended the Tanzanian government’s initiative to establish boreholes for the country’s smallholder farmers, as showcased in the video. She expressed the AfDB’s eagerness to support Tanzania alongside other partners and highlighted these efforts as part of a shared vision for a holistic, climate-smart, and integrated approach to realizing Tanzania’s agricultural future.

World Bank’s Martien van Nieuwkoop Highlights Support for Tanzania’s Agricultural Vision at COP28

Hussein Mohamed Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, introduced Martien van Nieuwkoop, the Global Director of Agriculture and Food Global Practice at the World Bank, to share his insights on the bank’s role in supporting Tanzania’s agricultural sector.

Van Nieuwkoop started by noting the endorsement of the UIE Declaration on sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems, and climate action by 134 countries at COP28. He praised the declaration as a directional guide for the future of agriculture and highlighted that many of the principles outlined in the declaration were already being implemented by Tanzania. He commended the Tanzanian government for its leadership in aligning its agricultural programs with the declaration’s goals.

World Bank’s Commitment to Tanzania’s Agricultural Programs

The World Bank, as van Nieuwkoop stated, is a proud partner in Tanzania’s agricultural endeavours, contributing $300 million in support of a ‘Program for Results.’ This program aims to scale up sector-wide impacts by combining domestic resources with multilateral financing. He emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts to achieve large-scale results and reduce the fragmentation often seen in agricultural projects.

Van Nieuwkoop addressed the need for a more integrated approach to agri-food systems, which is a key topic at COP28. He noted that Tanzania’s approach and the collaboration with financing partners align well with this integrated vision, helping to address the fragmentation of official development assistance to agriculture.

Replicating Tanzania’s Approach in Other Countries

Highlighting the World Bank’s interest in replicating Tanzania’s approach, van Nieuwkoop mentioned the Africa leadership agriculture policy dialogue held in Lusaka. This event invited countries interested in embarking on similar agricultural programs to collaborate with the World Bank. He reiterated the invitation, expressing optimism for a strong response from countries that endorsed the UIE Declaration.

van Nieuwkoop expressed the World Bank’s commitment to working with governments to realize their agricultural aspirations, inspired by the successful model presented by Tanzania.

As the discussions at the Tanzania High-Level Side Event at COP28 continued, Hussein Mohamed Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, initiated a pivotal transition in the session’s leadership. Recognizing the departure of Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Minister Bashe handed over the facilitation of the ongoing conversation to Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn.

Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn: Leading the Agricultural Delivery Commission

Mr. Desalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and a member of the Tanzania Presidential Agricultural Delivery Council established by President Hassan, graciously accepted the role of co-chair. He acknowledged the significance of leading this commission, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate closely with a former Prime Minister of Tanzania, Mzee Mizengo Pinda on this critical Compact.

Moving the agenda forward, Mr. Desalegn swiftly transitioned to the next segment of the event. He invited a representative from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, known as BMGF, to take the floor.

BMGF’s Rodger Voorhies Highlights Commitment to Tanzania’s Agricultural Sector

Rodger Voorhies, President of the Global Growth & Opportunity Division at the BMGF, began by applauding Tanzania for its emphasis on agriculture, recognizing it as a sector that delivers substantial economic development impact. He commended Tanzania’s approach, which not only focuses on economic development but also prioritizes sustainability within the agricultural sector. This, he noted, is crucial in the context of climate change, which has already imposed significant challenges on African agriculture.

Investments in Agricultural Transformation and Sustainability

Voorhies highlighted several key areas where the BMGF is investing in Tanzania’s agriculture. These include:

  1. Agricultural Transformation Office: Set up in the Ministry of Agriculture, this office coordinates efforts to ensure desirable outcomes in agricultural investments. Voorhies expressed appreciation for the partnership and dialogue around this initiative.
  2. Continued Support for AGRA: The BMGF is one of the largest investors in AGRA, supporting the seed sector and policy-related aspects in collaboration with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture.
  3. Private Sector Development: Voorhies mentioned the foundation’s support for private sector initiatives in Tanzania, such as Hester Biosciences in animal vaccines and dual-purpose poultry development, which is particularly beneficial for smallholder farmers and women.
  4. Partnership in Seed System Development: The BMGF’s partnership extends to cassava and African bananas through collaborations with institutions like the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology.
  5. Collaboration with International Development Banks and CGIR: These partnerships aim to deliver impactful outcomes for Tanzania’s agricultural sector.

A Commitment to Smallholder Farmers and Climate Action

Voorhies reiterated the BMGF’s commitment to supporting smallholder farmers in Africa as a crucial step in addressing global climate challenges. He thanked the Tanzanian government for the opportunity to be a part of the country’s agricultural transformation and expressed readiness to continue this collaborative journey.

Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn Underscores the Importance of Water Management in Tanzania’s Agriculture

After Rodger Voorhies’ insightful address, Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia emphasized a crucial aspect of Tanzania’s agricultural strategy: water management. Drawing on his expertise as a water engineer, Mr. Desalegn praised Tanzania’s current efforts in enhancing water resources. He specifically mentioned the significant number of boreholes being implemented, a project initiated by President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Additionally, he highlighted Tanzania’s investment in dams of various sizes – mega, micro, and medium – which serve dual purposes: mitigating floods caused by climate change and storing water for use during drought seasons.

A Comprehensive Approach to Agriculture and Food Security

Mr. Desalegn pointed out that these water management initiatives are part of a broader, comprehensive agricultural program in Tanzania. This program doesn’t just focus on crop production but also integrates livestock production and fisheries, thereby addressing multiple facets of the agricultural sector.

A Call for Global Support

Recognizing the scale and significance of these initiatives, Mr. Desalegn called upon the global community for enhanced support. He stressed the need for collaborative efforts to bolster this comprehensive program, which is crucial for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate catastrophes. Mr. Desalegn opened the floor to a representative from the World Food Programme (WFP), inviting their contribution to the discussion.

WFP’s Sarah Gordon-Gibson on Strengthening Agriculture and Food Security in Tanzania

Following Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn’s emphasis on water management, Sarah Gordon-Gibson, the Country Director and Representative of the United Nations World Food Programme in Tanzania, expressed her gratitude to the Tanzanian government for their collaboration.

Praising the Partnership with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture

Gordon-Gibson began by expressing pride in the WFP’s longstanding partnership with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture. She reinforced the idea expressed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan that agriculture is the backbone of Tanzania’s economy. The WFP has been actively supporting the sector, focusing on empowering farmers, particularly youth and women.

Comprehensive Support Through the Agricultural Value Chain

Gordon-Gibson highlighted the range of activities supported by the WFP in Tanzania. These initiatives span the entire agricultural value chain, from providing climate-resistant seeds and climate-smart agriculture practices to offering equipment and training for post-harvest loss management. Other areas of support include facilitating access to finance, warehouse management, and irrigation schemes, and linking farmers to markets where WFP purchases locally for its operations in Tanzania and the region.

Investment in the Local Economy and Diverse Value Chains

She noted that these efforts represent a significant investment in the local economy. The WFP has traditionally supported three key value chains – maize, sorghum, and beans – and has recently expanded to include sunflower and horticulture. This diversification aligns with Tanzania’s goal of becoming the breadbasket of the region and beyond.

Emphasizing the Role of Science, Technology, and Policy

Gordon-Gibson underscored the importance of integrating science, technology, policy, and action in agriculture. She advocated for bringing digital technology and climate-smart innovations to the forefront to meet the evolving needs of the sector. The use of technology, as shown in the video presentation, offers valuable solutions to enhance labour and land productivity, provide real-time monitoring, and share information on climate-smart risks.

Reiterating Support for Tanzania’s Agricultural Sector

Gordon-Gibson reiterated the WFP’s commitment to supporting Tanzania’s agriculture sector, emphasizing its role in enhancing food security and the overall development of the country. Following Gordon-Gibson’s address, Mr. Desalegn shifted the focus to the private sector, recognizing its vital role as the engine of growth. He invited representatives from CRDB Bank and the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) to speak.

Tanzanian Private Sector Pledges Support to Agriculture at COP28 Side Event

CRDB Bank’s Commitment to Agricultural Financing

Abdulmajid Nsekela, the CFO of CRDB Bank, expressed his honour to participate in the meeting. He highlighted the bank’s commitment to continue innovating products that support farmers and government initiatives in agriculture. Nsekela acknowledged the importance of the agricultural sector and the bank’s dedication to financing all its value chains. He appreciated the collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and pledged to invest more in the sector.

TADB’s Focus on Climate-Smart Agricultural Funding

Frank Mugeta Nyabundege, CEO of TADB, emphasized the need for climate-smart agricultural funding. He explained that TADB is developing tailor-made products specifically addressing climate-related challenges faced by farmers. These products aim to provide low-cost, affordable loans to facilitate a shift from current practices to more sustainable, resilient, and climate-smart agriculture.

Call for Partnership and Support

Nyabundege highlighted TADB’s role as an arm of the government in supporting Tanzania’s agricultural strategies and plans. To achieve impactful results at the national level, he called upon development partners and international funders to collaborate with TADB. This partnership is crucial for mobilizing sufficient, sustainable, and long-term financial resources for the betterment of farmers and the sustainable development of Tanzania’s agricultural sector.

As the Tanzania High-Level Side Event at COP28 drew to a close, Mr. Desalegn, the event’s co-chair, and Hussein Mohamed Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, delivered their final remarks, underscoring the success of the meeting and the path forward.

Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn Highlights Global Support and Future Aspirations

Mr. Desalegn remarked on the significance of COP28, particularly its focus on agriculture and food systems. He celebrated the endorsement of the UIE Declaration by over 136 countries, a testament to the growing global commitment to sustainable agriculture. He acknowledged the substantial financial commitments made by various organizations and institutions, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), AGRA, and the Green Climate Fund, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural initiatives in Tanzania. Mr. Desalegn called upon additional donors to contribute to Tanzania’s ambitious agricultural programs, expressing hope for increased investment in the country’s future.

Minister Bashe’s Acknowledgments and Call for Collaboration

Minister Bashe expressed gratitude to his colleagues, including the foreign affairs and water ministers and the minister of agriculture from Zanzibar. He announced significant funding allocations for Zanzibar’s agricultural efforts, with contributions from the World Bank and the AfDB. Emphasizing the goal to raise $1.8 billion over the next seven years, Minister Bashe invited development partners and the private sector to contribute to this endeavor. He stressed the importance of supporting smallholder farmers, stating that addressing their needs is crucial for sustainability and preventing practices like deforestation for charcoal production.

AFDB’s Role in Fund Mobilization and Project Development

Minister Bashe highlighted the AfDB’s commitment to leading the process of fund mobilization and their allocation of resources for a comprehensive feasibility study to ensure the projects are bankable and attractive to potential investors.

Closing the Event with an Invitation to Tanzania

In his closing words, Minister Bashe thanked all participants and extended an invitation to continue these important discussions in Tanzania, emphasizing the country’s commitment to agricultural development and sustainability.

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