It feels just like yesterday the year begun and now we are bidding farewell to 2018 which was both rewarding and interesting.
The SAGCOT Partnership has grown to 116 members this year. This is an encouraging sign that the buy-in to the SAGCOT Initiative and SAGCOT way of agricultural investment, is now building more momentum. It is through this partnership that we will actualise the Initiative goals of building true inclusive and sustainable commercialized agriculture, which truly propels Tanzania into a middle-income nation.
In 2018, the Ihemi Cluster Compact, which guides the private and public partnership engagement in the cluster to strengthen value chains, was successfully revised with remarkable progress across value chains. This has seen the introduction of three new value chains in the Ihemi Cluster; avocado, ginger and sunflower, in addition to the existing soya, potato, tomato, tea and dairy value chains. This cross-sectoral engagement of regional government and the private sector in Ihemi Cluster has caused a ripple effect in other clusters.
This year we have also seen the Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture sign a MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands; to provide a framework for public-private partnership efforts from and across both countries to build a robust potato value chain and associated services in Tanzania. A Potato Centre of Excellence as a result of this initiative is already up and running, providing services to the potato value chain.
Thanks to the collective engagement, ownership and deliberations of SAGCOT partners in the Mbarali Cluster. The cluster now has defined its 6 priority value chains; avocado, dairy, rice, potato, poultry and sunflower. This makes way for a clearly defined path for the cluster to prioritise key areas of policy, regulation, infrastructure and agribusiness best practices to strengthen and build these value chains. It also paves a way for inter-cluster linkages and collaboration.
We successfully launched the third SAGCOT Cluster, Kilombero, which covers the Morogoro region. Kilombero cluster currently produces 30% of all food consumed in Tanzania. This makes it a rich potential for strong, inclusive and sustainable value chains. Kilombero Cluster brings in opportunities to further the unique partnerships between agriculture and the natural environment. We look forward to this interesting opportunity.
This was also a good year, for greener agricultural practices, with more SAGCOT partners investing in sustainable and environmental safeguards. We have seen the Green Reference Group working with private partners to voluntarily access their environmental compliance in their investments using the recently developed Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) tool. The IGG tool assists SAGCOT partners to track and manage environmental compliance easing the process of statutory environmental certification for their investments. We have also seen the development of solid and waste management systems, training of farmers in forest conservation and agroforestry.
SCL has continued to work on priority policy challenges addressing rural infrastructure affecting access to markets and farms. Through the World Bank’s Roads for Inclusion and Social Economic opportunity (RISE) project in the Ihemi Cluster, working with TARURA and TANROADS 3 pilot roads in Kilolo district, Iringa DC district and Mufindi DC have been prioritized for construction.
We have also seen the connection of partner agribusinesses to electricity grids resolving some long-term operational challenges.
We were also very pleased to see the government’s demonstration of commitment to engage with the private sector with the establishment of the Private Sector Desk at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. The private sector can now address their challenges directly to the Ministry for immediate attention through the support of trained and capable technical staff at the desk. It is a rich partnership that has brought in the Agricultural Sector Policy and Institutional Reforms Strengthening (ASPIRES) and SAGCOT as well as the Tanzania Agricultural Bank (TADB).
Smallholders also celebrate the fruits of the SAGCOT partnership. SAGCOT partners in the private sector working with smallholder farmers has seen farmers get access to markets earning at competitive rates. Farmers also have access to higher quality farm inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds. Their increased knowledge of soil health, with more investment in the application of lime to improve the quality of their soils, has resulted in enviable productivity.
This is just a tip of the iceberg of the numerous successes we have seen this year. 2018 has shown us the true power of working together in the SAGCOT Partnership. In Swahili, we say, umoja ni nguvu – unity is strength. And 2018 has surely demonstrated our unified strength in transforming the lives of not just smallholder farmers but also agribusinesses and environmental protection. As we continue to grow we promise to continue working together towards an improved business environment for agribusinesses.
Our continued partnership with public institutions encourages us and promises better and efficient ways to address challenges in the agricultural sector. The Government commitment and interest to continue the partnership with SAGCOT Initiative is applauded.
On behalf of the SAGCOT Centre Ltd, I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to you, dear partner, for your continued drive, enthusiasm and diligence which propels our collective goals forward.
As you take a break to relax and rejuvenate with your families and loved ones this festive season. Let me take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and even more prosperous 2019!
Chief Executive Officer,
SAGCOT Centre Ltd.