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The European Union (EU) and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania has signed a new Financing Agreement called AGRI-CONNECT, amounting to EUR 103 500 000, to promote productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector, focusing on the horticulture, coffee, and tea value chains in Tanzania. Under this Agreement EU will provide EUR 100 million (approximately TZS 265,512,723,872), while implementing partners will contribute EUR 3.5 million (approximately TZS 9,291,417,755).
The main objective of AGRI-CONNECT is to contribute to inclusive economic growth, promote private sector development and job creation and to increase food and nutrition security in Tanzania. The programme will be implemented both at national and local levels with geographically targeted components [i.e. Southern Highlands of Tanzania and Zanzibar].
Agriculture remains central to Tanzania’s industrialisation drive as articulated in the Government's Five Year Development Plan and the recently adopted Agricultural Sector Development Plan Phase Two- ASDP II. ASDP II was launched by President Magufuli in June 2018 and will cover the period 2017-2022. It will contribute to catalyzing industrial growth through the agricultural sector and aims to almost double the country’s agricultural growth rate from the current 3.7 % per year to above 6% by 2022. An increase in agricultural productivity will form the basis of the country’s industrialization push and employment creation. AGRI-CONNECT is fully aligned with the Government's priorities as outlined in ASDP II.
The focus of AGRI-CONNECT is on value chain development in the horticulture, coffee, and tea sectors. These commodities have significant potential to equitably increase smallholder’s income and nutrition through increased productivity and production, post-harvest management, value addition, and improved market linkages. In order to reduce post-harvest losses and to facilitate access to markets for horticulture, tea and coffee products, an important budget will be allocated to upgrade the network of rural roads in selected districts. Indeed there will be important opportunities for increased export volumes and revenues, including from premium markets.
Additionally, the three commodities will drive on-farm and off-farm entrepreneurship opportunities, creating jobs and benefits for women and youth in particular. The horticulture sector, with its quick returns, attracts more youth compared to other traditional crops.
AGRI-CONNECT will also address is sector governance and the business environment as clearly articulated in ASDP II and the Blueprint for Regulatory Reforms to Improve the Business Environment, launched by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in May 2018. The private sector plays an important role in developing the agriculture sector throughout the value chain. To facilitate investment in the sector and improve access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises, a special loan mechanism will be developed under the programme.
At a national level the programme will support the development of a communication strategy and campaign to foster behavioral change for improved nutrition in mainland Tanzania and in Zanzibar, in line with the Government's 2016 Food and Nutrition Policy, contributing to the objectives of the National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP) 2016–2021.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, the EU Head of Delegation, Mr. Roeland van de Geer, said that "AGRI-CONNECT will contribute to overcoming key constraints in the Agriculture Sector that limit production, value addition, marketing and access to regional and export markets for horticulture, coffee and tea farmers".
Speaking on behalf of the Government, the National Authorising Officer for EDF, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Mr. Doto James, expressed the Government’s appreciation for the financial support extended by EU to support Tanzania's Agriculture sector, specifically the Horticulture, Coffee and Tea sub-sectors. He stressed that "We are particularly grateful for the EU financial support, which has come at the right time when the ASDP II has recently been launched and the Government continues to create an enabling environment for industrialization to foster economic growth"