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    Untitled-5Women dressed in vibrant African fabric are sprinkled across fields of tea, coffee and banana trees. This is Tanzania, and these women are the caretakers of the land – and of their families. And yet, for women like Isabella Mwile, hard work in the field and raising children doesn’t necessarily make her a partner at home. Traditionally in Tanzania, men are the decision makers. However, in Isabella’s village of Mbaka, in Rungwe district, these traditions are changing.

    In January 2015, leaders of Mbaka village acknowledged Isabella’s leadership qualities and selected her to attend an Innovations in Gender Equality (IGE) training-of-trainers course on women’s’ and girls’ leadership in agriculture. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, the IGE program facilitated this session with the goal of  improving community members’ knowledge and understanding of issues that are critical for women’s empowerment in Tanzania.

    During the three-day training, Isabella learned about the benefits of expanding a women’s role inside and outside of the home. Like how two heads are better than one when it comes to decision making on raising children or household finances. And how important it is to raise boys and girls equally. She also
    learned about how much value a woman can bring to a community organization or government position.
    I was most surprised by the fact that I could be independent from my husband. I realized that I could contribute to our household income by starting my own business of selling cereals, rice and beans,” says Isabella. She went home to share what she learned with her husband. He was supportive. In fact, he was proud of her new found confidence and relieved to have a second opinion, and a second income.

    Since 2012, IGE has trained 443 people like Isabella to become trainers of women’s empowerment and gender equality in their communities. And, over 3,900 women and 1500 men have joined groups to learn about the important role women can play in their homes and communities.

    After her training, Isabella formed the Upendo group to share what she learned. For the last two years, they have been meeting every Thursday to discuss how they are incorporating the lessons of gender equity into their lives.

    One woman joined the school board and plans to run for district office next year. A few women share about the benefits of joint household decision making. One woman speaks about how her son and daughter now have equal access to education – and are doing the same household chores. Several women have been empowered to start their own business. And one woman, a widow, is now confident to fix up the house, taking charge of repair projects that her husband used to see to. The stories
    vary, but each has a common theme. As Isabella puts it, “Our confidence is growing. We are helping each other improve and take care of ourselves. We no longer depend only on our spouses.”

    Since the first meeting in 2015, Isabella’s group has grown from 20 to 50 members – including both women and men. “Neighboring communities are taking notice, they admire us and want to join. Our women members are known for our matching skirts! We have applications for 10 more members,” she says. Attendance is 5,000 Tanzanian shillings (2.50 USD) a week – and the money goes to a group loan system. Members can take out loans to buy supplies for their farm, or to provide temporary support to support one another during family emergencies.

    As their weekly meeting ends, the women and men of Upendo joyfully sing a hope for their future in Kiswahili, “Waking mama tusonge mbele, tusirudi nyumbo…” In English, this means, “Mothers let us move forward, we should not go back…” Thanks to people like Isabella, Mbaka is making progress.

    “I was most surprised by the fact that I could be independent from my husband. I realized that I could contribute to our household income by starting my own business of selling cereals, rice and beans.”

    By Alexander Hitzemann

    Private and public sector working together – this is how the much anticipated, upcoming outdoor agricultural show, Agritech Expo Tanzania, taking place in Arusha from 26-27 January is described by the local agricultural sector in the country.

    The inaugural farming B2B platform, which already enjoys strong support by the farming community, will not only gather farmers, from commercial to emerging and small scale; but also key officials from regional governments, agro associations, NGOs, aid, development and research agencies; agro dealers, traders and retailers; suppliers, consultants and technical experts as well as venture capitalists, investors and bankers.

    “The role of private sector is highly recognised in the agricultural policy, strategies and programmes” says Dr David Nyange, Policy Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Tanzania, a supporting partner of the upcoming Agritech Expo Tanzania.

    He adds: “as industrialisation is at the top of the current development agenda, the technologies that will be displayed at the Expo have potential to play a great role toward the commercialisation of agriculture which is necessary for ensuring sustainable supply of raw materials to the industry”.

    Other host partners for the event are the Agriculture Council of Tanzania (ACT), the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA), the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Arusha.

    Agri suppliers supporting Agritech Expo
    The industry has responded with great enthusiasm to the first Agritech Expo in Tanzania.

    Global farming equipment leader John Deere and its distributor in the country, LonAgro Tanzania Ltd, are gold sponsors for the event. Says Lukas Botha, Managing Director, LonAgro Tanzania: “from land and seed bed preparation, through to crop care and harvesting, LonAgro John Deere in Tanzania has the complete solution.”

    “The horticultural sector is an awakening giant” says Harald Peeters, MD Tanzania of the vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan Q-Sem, a bronze sponsor at Agritech Expo. He adds: “Tanzania has plenty of land, enough water and year round sunlight. I am looking forward to an Expo which raises the awareness of the Government to the fact that the private sector is a partner in development, creating thousands of jobs, educa ting workers and building the nation”.

    Other leading agri suppliers that have already confirmed their presence at the event include Afrivet, Ford, CMC Automobiles, Hughes Motors, Maji, HortiPro, Irrico, Rivulis, AMDT, FNB, Lindsay Africa, Balton, Kibo Seed, Neptun Boot and TFSC.

    The Agritech Expo success story
    The success story of the outdoor agricultural show, Agritech Expo, which is about to expand to Tanzania, started in the Zambian agri-hub of Chisamba three years ago and has been a tremendous boost for that country’s farming sector. The inaugural Agritech Expo Tanzania has transitioned from the Agribusiness Congress conference that has taken place in Dar es Salaam for the last three years.

    Agritech Expo Zambia in 2016 drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors and 160 exhibitors over 70 000 sqm of space. The three-day expo also featured two international pavilions, from Germany and Zimbabwe, welcomed two agriculture ministers, from Zambia and the Czech Republic, and the Zambian President H.E Edgar Lungu officially opened the show.

    “We at John Deere have been attending and exhibiting at this event since its inception three years ago and are pleased to see the progress that the organisers are making in growing this event and reaching all those concerned with agriculture from government to small scale farmers” says Kevin Lesser, Global Marketing Director, John Deere, Kenya, adding: “we fully support the direction of growth intended for this event in Tanzania. We look forward to next year’s event”.

    Event dates and location:
    Exhibition: 26-27 January 2017
    Commercial Farmers’ Focus Day: 26 January 2017
    Venue:  Selian Agricultural Research Institute, Arusha/Dodoma Main Road, Arusha

    Twitter: @Agritech_Expo
    Facebook: @AgritechZambiaTanzania
    Linkedin: Agritech Expo
    Instagram: Agritech_Agribusiness
    Website: http://www.agritechexpotanzania.com/

    Senior communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
    Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
    Mobile: +27 82 562 7844
    Email: annemarie.roodbol@spintelligent.com

    By Skye Lawrence

    Carter Coleman is the Founder and CEO of Kilombero Plantation Limited (KPL), Tanzania’s leading rice producer. The 5818 ha farm is located in the Kilombero Valley, 450 km from Dar es Salaam. Prior to starting Agrica he founded the Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group, a non-profit focused on preserving local forests. In our conversation he said the need for preserving the rainforest from encroaching villages became evident to him during the two years he spent hang gliding over the mountains and training falcons after he first came to Tanzania as a Rotary International Fellow in 1989. The Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group has grown into a large NGO.

    Skye: What is the history of the farm and how did you end up buying it?

    kilimo-1Carter: In 2005 I decided to do a farming project. I wanted the farm to be in Tanzania because I’d been there since 1989. I hired a former Commonwealth Development Corporation (DCD) manager who had worked in Malawi and Tanzania. He and I looked around Tanzania for a year until we found this defunct farm which also had a title deed, which is a major advantage.

    The farm had originally been a joint venture between the Tanzanian and North Korean governments, an almost personal project between Kim Il-Sung and Julius Nyerere, the first founding father of Tanzania. In the late 80’s, the North Korean army cleared 5,800 hectares in the Kilombero Valley. Because there is no grid they built a little mini-hydro station in the foothills above the flood plain in the foothills of the Udzungwa-Mountains. They didn’t put in irrigation which is the most expensive piece of any farm because North Korea ran out of money after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    That’s when all the North Koreans went home. I remember at the time the North Korean Ambassador was busted with a container full of ivory on his way home. So the farm was left basically defunct and was owned by the Tanzanian government until we came along and signed a purchase contract in 2006. We spent the last of our seed capital on hiring consultants, primarily CDC guys to do studies for our business plan. Then we were like, “whoa, we need about $70 million to have an irrigated 5,000 hectare farm!”

    Skye: How did you fund the project?

    We spent a year raising capital by visiting investment banks and private equity firms who basically said, “Thanks. Good luck with that. See you around.” Agriculture is capital intensive, has a long time horizon and is high risk with low to moderate returns. It ticks all the negative criteria. We were very lucky to have been introduced to Capricorn Investments who is our majority shareholder. It is primarily Jeff Skoll’s money. Capricorn has a long-term principled investment approach with a small portion of their overall portfolio willing to do high impact investments like our farm.

    Getting the first anchor investor like Capricorn Investments is key to getting a project like this going. Now because British Secretary of State Justine Greening we have investment

    from AgDevCo. She believes in more trade less aide, and that the British should be supporting British companies creating jobs and providing food security in the developing world. She visited the farm in June of 2013 and because it has become a showcase commercial farm with a transformative smallholder program she asked AgDevCo to invest.

    Skye: Was your goal to sell locally in Tanzania?

    Carter: The goal is to sell within East African Community-Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Similarly we have always wanted to be as socially and environmentally responsible as possible. The business case for the farm and indirectly for each of the half million smallholder rice farmers in Tanzania across the country is zero-duty trade within the East-African Community protected by the common external tariff. It is impossible to compete as a Tanzanian rice producer with agriculturally developed countries such as Pakistan or Thailand. These countries have invested billions of dollars in irrigation over the last 60 years and have a variety of agricultural subsidies for producers. Africa is years away from a similar system so you rely on the common external tariff. I’ll get to why that has become challenge later on.

    Skye: What are the farm’s next steps?

    Carter: Next we are completing the pivot irrigation system to cover 3,036 hectares. Our first 500 kilowat, renewable, bio-mass plant that gasifies rice husks is coming online in April. We plan to build a second 1.2 megawatt soon so that we will be totally renewable using hydro and bio-mass, with the exception of the diesel for the tractors and the combines. We will be completely off grid.

    We have a strong smallholder program where we’ve trained 6,527 farmer families and increased yields from one ton per hectare to 4.42 tons a hectare this last season.

    The Kilombero Valley is a flood plain between two mountain rainforests that gets a huge amount of rain, it’s hard to grow anything but rice in the rainy season. Everyone in the valley, around 150,000 – 200,000 people rely solely on a rainfed rice crop for their annual income and food security. The intensive rice system that we have introduced has been transformative for farmers.

    Skye: How have you increased yields?

    Carter: By planting on a grid that is 25 centimeters by 25 centimeters. This is an unconventionally wide-row spacing and intra-row seed spacing. You get a better yield with these methods and by planting on a grid rather than just broadcast helter-skelter. With an unconventionally wide array of spacing you get deeper root system, bushier plant, therefore three and four times the grain.

    Skye: If yields are increasing what are biggest problems you see for small holders to scale up production?

    Carter: Smallholders need crop financing. We need a microfinancing organization (MFI) or a need a bank to lend to them, and then KPL can have an off-take agreement. We’ve been working with one commercial bank and one MFI. The commercial bank had a great repayment rate, but then decided it was not worth the trouble because the program was too small, and not scalable fast enough so they pulled out. The MFI had a bad repayment rate, and so they didn’t continue.

    Now I’m talking to two banks and AgDevCo about devoting some resources to this issue. Farmers need financing options to lift themselves out of poverty by not pre-selling a portion, or the majority of their crop prior to harvest. If they do this it is worth a fifth of what it is worth if they can hold on until harvest. Pre-selling and therefore losing value is what repeatedly happens in Africa.

    Skye: In the US there is the farm credit union. Would something like this system be a model that the Tanzanian government could set up?

    Carter: Funding is a key challenge. The Tanzanian government has this thing called Big Results Now Initiative where they have Key Performance Indicators. They talk about our company, which is a registered Tanzanian Company, as a model project. They want fifteen project like ours by 2017 and 1,000 new warehouses around the country, etc.

    When they were announcing their Key Performance Indicators to the private sector I raised my hand and said, “ you don’t have a prayer of hitting your KPI’s until you sort out the market.”

    In 2013, with no forewarning or consultation with producers or consultation with the East-African community, the Tanzanian government allowed 80,000 tons of Pakistani rice to be imported exempt from the common external tariff of the East-African community. First the wholesale price of rice plunged 54 % in Tanzania. Then Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, which are key export markets for Tanzania’s surplus imposed the common external tariff on all Tanzania rice. It was a major double blow that destroyed the domestic market and the export market. Things are now just beginning to normalize.

    Skye: Tell me a bit about the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania? How is Agrica connected to SAGCOT?

    Carter: KPL is the showcase project because we are in the Corridor and we’re doing exactly what this Initiative wants; a state of the art commercial farm and with a lot of effective smallholder programs. That’s why Justine Greening came to visit us. We get visitors all the time. SAGCOT is a great thing because the SAGCOT Center plays a role in getting the government to stop the duty free rice for example. They play a useful lobbying role for sensible agricultural policy and attracting donor funding for infrastructure projects, roads and power grids.

    AgBusiness Lab Farm VisitBy Deborah B. Hamilton
    Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation

    Most companies want to “do well by doing good,” and Jose Jaar, president and founder of DelCampo Soluciones Agricolas, proves this is possible. Over the past two decades he has built an agribusiness that earns nearly $2 million per year selling drip irrigation supplies to smallholder farmers in Central America.

    Jaar recently attended Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation’s AgBusiness Lab in Tanzania to discuss his business model with African drip distributors. The Lab was an interactive event featuring system design simulations, expert-led discussions, site visits, and farmer interviews all aimed at identifying profit-driven opportunities for African drip distributors to engage a largely untapped smallholder market potentially worth billions of dollars.

    So, how did Jose Jaar build a profitable business in a smallholder market?

    Business success depends on knowing the target market, creating products that fit the customers’ needs, providing excellent customer service, and pricing products to sell. Over the years, Jaar and his team of agronomist salesmen have cultivated customer relationships built on trust. They started by visiting the farms, listening to smallholders’ needs, and then providing training, advice, and support along with equipment sales. Today more than 60 percent of DelCampo’s sales are repeat business, and its sales representatives earn nearly 80 percent of their competitive salaries from commission.

    In 2009, to build momentum, Jaar used funds from the Millennium Challenge Account-Honduras to offer credit to farmers to finance their purchases, which allowed many to access irrigation equipment for the first time. Today, DelCampo provides $250 in revolving credit to its regular customers, which they repay after the growing season.\

    Approximately 40 percent of the world’s food producers are smallholder farmers, and estimates of potentially irrigable land in the developing world top 110 million hectares. So why do only 3 percent of the world’s one billion smallholder farmers have access to drip irrigation? Because, as Jaar notes, most irrigation systems are too large and too expensive for smallholder farmers.

    Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation is a USAID program that helps to commercialize agricultural technologies and promote sustainable partnerships that benefit smallholders. Its sponsorship of the AgBusiness Lab included providing participating drip distributors with extension advice, and system design and cash flow tools, in addition to highlighting the Del Campo model as one that successfully adjusted in products to meet smallholder size and budget requirements – and made a good profit doing it.

    Partnering for Innovation recognizes that drip irrigation is a critical piece in solving the food security puzzle, and projects that increased access will double yields and incomes for millions of African farmers. The program has additionally invested almost 20 percent of its total grant portfolio in companies that are scaling drip technologies to meet smallholder needs.