Tanzania has made big progress in adopting science and technology in the transformation of the agriculture sector. This has translated to enhanced food security and higher incomes for multiple stakeholders along the agricultural value chain, according to Prof. Nuhu Hatibu, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Regional Head, East Africa.
Prof. Nuhu made the remarks while addressing the Annual Agriculture Research Forum and Seed Stakeholder Forum in Arusha, 19th August 2020, organized by Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA) and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and supported by USAID and AGRA. The forum brought together over 200 participants from the public, private sector, development partners, and academia.
He resonated with the theme of the forum, “Promoting Public and Private Partnership Transforming Smallholder Farmers to Commercialization,” noting that it has been AGRA’s area of investment for a long time and has proved big results. AGRA in Tanzania works in line with the Government of Tanzania’s Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II).
“We are happy to support the development of the agriculture sector in Tanzania… in the first 10 years, AGRA prioritized initiatives that complement the work of other actors to significantly increase smallholder farmers’ income and food security by enhancing productivity, strengthening linkages between market and production systems, and supporting the development of an enabling environment. The results of these investments include the development of 42 new crop varieties, twenty-nine of which have been commercialized, expansion of agro-dealers network with 6,748 outlets enables to expand their business and training of new experts in crop breeding and agronomy. Previously in Tanzania over 90 per cent of improved varieties were imported.
Currently, AGRA’s biggest intervention is based on a consortia model that brings together multiple actors in the commodity value chains targeted in a specific area to provide integrated services to agribusinesses and farmers in that area. This has led to increased efficiency in each segment of the agriculture value chain, hence more income and food security for farmers.
“We are mostly based in western regions of Tanzania – in Kagera, Kigoma, Sumbawanga/Katavi, Iringa, Njombe, and Ruvuma. We have also had some activities in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara,” The results are evident, from increased adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies to better-organized commodity marketing.
Starting with smallholder farmers, agribusinesses along the sector value chain, are transforming into sustainable business enterprises.
AGRA, working in 12 countries, in Tanzania at the moment is in the fourth year of implementing a five-year strategic plan that ends next year, 2021 and is in the process of coming up with AGRA 2030 Strategy.
According to an internal M&E report, Tanzania has achieved its targets one year ahead of the end of the 2017-2021 strategy,” he noted, adding that, the views and concerns of stakeholders in Tanzania, would be presented to top AGRA organs to be considered for inclusion in the strategy document.
Prof Hatibu is an ardent advocate for the use of science and technology in Africa’s agriculture as the road to poverty alleviation for the smallholder farmers. From the adoption of improved seeds varieties to the use of farm mechanization, modern storage and processing facilities, he says it is important to mechanize the entire agricultural value chain.
According to Mr Vianey Rweyendela, AGRA Country Manager, AGRA in Tanzania has in the recent past funded the release of over 42 improved cultivars of food crops such as maize, cassava, beans and soybeans, where 29 of these are varieties that are commercially available to farmers. AGRA has also supported the establishment of 15 seed companies and capacitated others to increase their production.
At the same time, AGRA in Tanzania has capacitated over 6,748 agro-dealers from around the country and supported post-graduate studies for agriculture experts (14 PhDs and 27 MScs), who are leading researchers in agriculture development.