Financed by the European Union (EU) to the tune of 4.5 million euros (12.5 billion/-), the projects under the South Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) umbrella were launched in Dar es Salaam yesterday at an event graced by the deputy minister for Agriculture, Dr Mary Mwanjelwa.
They will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Tanzania branch in collaboration with HELVETAS Swiss Interco-operation and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Tanzania.
Officials said the main focus of the projects will be to equip the farmers with post-harvest management skills to enhance their ability to compete in the rice market.
Dr Mwanjelwa said the projects will add to ongoing government efforts to reduce post-harvest losses which account for about 40 per cent of the country’s total rice harvest.
She added that the projects are expected to build the managerial capacities of rice farmers’ organizations to put them at leverage position in collaboration with other value chain actors hence increasing their competitiveness, reducing post-harvest losses, maintaining quality and quantity.
“The government takes the issue of food security as a priority. This is why we are working with partners from both public and private sectors to improve food production in the country to ensure that there is enough investment in the value chain from production, storage, processing, packaging, transporting and accessing markets to avoid post-harvest losses,” the deputy minister explained.
The EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Roeland Van Geer, said the projects will address some of the challenges faced by the country’s rice industry, “in particular those associated with post-harvest losses and value chain weaknesses”.
The first project is to be confined to Iringa region while the second one covering Rice Post-Harvest Management (RIPOMA) is to be implemented in Kilosa and Mvumero districts on Morogoro region.
According to Van Geer: “This project aims at empowering smallholder farmers through capacity building in good agricultural practices, market systems, financial services, and investment in post-harvest infrastructures.”
The third project in Kilombero, Malinyi and Ulanga districts will reach up to 5,000 smallholder rice farmers, particularly women and youth.
FAO’s representative in Tanzania, Fred Kafeero, said farmers are “at the core of the value chain as they play a significant role in the source of the produced goods.”
“With improved competitiveness and post-harvest losses management, paddy and other cereals can definitely make the country food self-sufficient, resulting in poverty reduction and increased incomes while ensuring a sustainable supply of food and reliable market for farmers,” Kafeero added.