Smallholder women farmers outline issues to consider in Agriculture

14May 2022
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Smallholder women farmers outline issues to consider in Agriculture

SMALLHOLDER Women Farmers Forum (SWFF) have outlined key areas the government should put more emphasis in as it tables agricultural budget in the parliament coming Monday.

Hussein Bashe, minister of agriculture.

 They said this year’s budget should strive to achieve the mission of Malabo declaration goals and commitments and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) which is the Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.

Speaking at CAADP BR analysis and advocacy engagement meeting with Members of Parliament in Dodoma recently, they asked the Minister for agriculture to allocate enough budgets so as to comply with Malabo Declaration commitments. Saying the declaration presents a holistic approach for governments to achieve improved livelihoods through agriculture, with a particular emphasis on the role of smallholder farmers.

Fredinah Said from Kishapu district in Shinyanga region said the government and the Ministry of Agriculture should allocate enough budget for agricultural research and extension system. She said there are so many farmers struggling with drought due to climate change; they have also been affected by crop pests and diseases.

They can’t be reached by researchers due to small budget to take them to remote areas.  Citing an example, she said there is acute shortage of extension services as one extension saves a ward or division and many are ill equipped. She said research on useful traditional seeds, their technologies; affordable fertilizers and soil testing are also important areas to be considered in the budget.

She also explained that there is a need for research on availability of markets. “There is very scant information on suitable markets. The farmer can struggle to grow different crops but the crops ends up rotting due to lack of reliable market. Without better markets the small holder farmers will never graduate from subsistence to commercial,” she explained.

Frola Mlowezi from Mbeya said the government should revive irrigation schemes and projects that have been abandoned so that small holder farmers can conduct agriculture throughout the year.

“Agriculture that depends on rains will never grow. The farmers cannot secure loans from financial institutions because they don’t have reliable income. Therefore, the coming budget should consider all these concerns, she said.

Pili Kuliwa from Kilwa district in Lindi region urged the government to allocate more budgets on nutrition issues saying malnutrition is on the increase in many parts of Tanzania. She said the situation is not so good especially to children under five.

“If we don’t address malnutrition issues, we are going to have stunted students and leaders to lead this nation,” she said.

Civil Society organisations representatives namely Audax Rukonge from ANSAF,  Joseph Senga from MVIWATA, Nicholas Lekule from Policy Forum, Msololo  Ondit from ForumCC, and Bakari Mongo from TOAM collectively urged the government to increase the budget for agriculture sector as per the Malabo declaration and the CAADP.

 Earlier on, Scaling up Public Investment Agriculture (SUPIA) Project Coordinator of ActionAid Tanzania, Joram Wimmo explained the progress Tanzania has made in areas of research, post-harvest loss, climate change, trade and intra-trade, and poverty among others but advised that more efforts are needed to achieve the goals and commitments of Malabo declaration.

Citing an example of Rwanda, he said the country has made progress in many areas that other countries should emulate.

International project manager for SUPIA Constance Okeke said the BR report gives countries and governments opportunity progressively review the implementation of the CAADP both at the country level and at the continent level.

Also it is an opportunity to build data even with the impact of COVID-19 which has shown the need for countries to invest largely on agriculture and food security, it is also creates an opportunity to build resilience and ensure people don’t go hungry in future.

She called on Members of Parliament to collectively push for a better agricultural development.

Concluding the discussion with farmers, vice chairman, agriculture, livestock and water Almas Maige said members of parliament have taken into consideration all farmers concerns and will present them as they are to the government for implementation.

The smallholder farmers pray that Monday’s agricultural budget will meet their expectations and desired goal.

The analysis report was expected to trigger discussions and actions at country level to spur policy and investment responses designed to speed up the attainment of the Malabo Declaration goals and commitments

ActionAid championed the analysis for the 3rd Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Biennial Review (BR) Report that was endorsed by the assembly of African Heads of State and Government during 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government in February 2022.