Tanzania MPs Learning Journey: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities of Agriculture in the SAGCOT Ihemi Cluster

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GBRI Farm Fresh main farm in Iringa visited by MPs during the learning journey

The Ihemi Cluster is part of the stunning expanse of the Southern Growth Corridor of Tanzania. This beautiful expanse produces 65 % of food consumed in Tanzania with a growing number of promising agribusinesses and smallholder farmer associations building strong agricultural value chains.

On 7 June 2018, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water, together with regional MPs set off to the Njombe region in the heart of the SAGCOT Ihemi Cluster, on a six-day learning journey organised by the SAGCOT Centre Ltd (SCL) Policy team.

The learning journey introduced MPs to the SCL operations in the Ihemi Cluster, covering Njombe and Iringa regions, to see first-hand the success, opportunities and challenges faced by smallholder farmers, agro SMEs and other stakeholders in the Ihemi Cluster.

The MPs visited smallholder farmers in Kilolo, Njombe and Iringa regions; from Njombe Outgrowers Service Company (NOSC), Unilever, ASAS Dairies, Tanzanice Agro Foods Ltd, Nemace Green Garden and GBRI Business solutions.

Filbert Kavia, NOSC general manager, was appreciative of the public-private partnership within Njombe which has seen an increase in the number of, the much needed, extension services for farmers.

“In 2015, we entered into an agreement with the Government that seeks to increase tea productivity in our area. We have employed 8 extension officers now working with the 8 government extension officers assigned by the government. We now have 16 extension officers.” Kavia explains.

NOSC offers the government extension tools such as motorcycles, laptops and GPS for surveying plots to assist with their work.

The Committee’s Deputy Chair, Hon. Christina Ishengoma celebrated the strategic partnership approach to increase tea production in the region and promised continued support.

“The MP’s will fight tooth and nail to ensure that farmers earn the best reward from their hard work” she stated.

Despite growth in the livestock and fisheries sub-sectors value addition for these agriculture products is low at an average of 10% reflected in the low investment by both public and private sectors. The result is missed opportunities in revenue, employment and innovation.

According to the Tanzania Dairy Board (TDB), 70% of off-farm milk sales come from smallholder dairy farmer and large-scale dairy farms. To get more insight into the realities of the Dairy sector the Committee travelled to Iringa region, where they visited SAGCOT Partner; ASAS Dairies.

After a tour of the ASAS Dairies operations, Managing Director, Fuad Jaffer, pointed out some key challenges in the Dairy sector,

“The dairy sector is faced with a lot of challenges; multiple overlapping regulations, unfavourable investment environment and marketing competition from import, this affects our access to local market”.

Off-farm milk marketing is dominated by the informal sector, which commands 97% of the marketed milk; only 3% of domestically produced milk is processed, this reduces the quality of the milk consumed locally also raising key health concerns for consumers.

Tanzania Dairy sector is also flooded with imports which also stagnates the already struggling industry. With increased investment and supporting legislation, this can turn around.

Parliamentary Committee Chairperson Hon Mahmoud Mgimwa urged key agriculture stakeholders to hold consultative meetings to address concerns raised by the Dairy farmers and business.

“We want to know what we can do to reverse this situation,” Mgimwa concluded.

 

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