Thursday 01 February, 2018 – Iringa: Over 10,000 rice farmers in Iringa region including women, youth, and men are going to benefit from a project that aims to equip them with postharvest management skills to enhance their competitiveness in the market.
Dubbed ‘Improve Competitiveness and Increase Postharvest Management Capacity of Smallholder Farmers in the Rice Value Chain’, the project was launched here at a ceremony that was presided over by the Iringa Regional Commissioner, Hon. Amina Masenza. Jointly funded by the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to the tune of 1,875,000 Euros (over 5.2 billion Tanzanian Shillings) the project is going to be implemented in Iringa District, Iringa region by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rural Urban Development Initiatives (RUDI). The EU is supporting this project with a contribution of 1.5 million Euros. (Approx. 3.9 billion Tanzanian Shillings).
Speaking at the launch, Hon. Masenza said that the project will add into the ongoing efforts by the Government and other partners in the region to reduce postharvest losses which account for about forty percent of all the harvests. “The Government takes the issue of food security as a priority. We are working with partners from both public and private sectors to improve food production in the country,” she said adding: “The main objective is to ensure that there is enough investment in the value chain from production, storage, processing, packaging, transporting and accessing markets to avoid post-harvest losses that could lead into food insecurity.”
Hon. Masenza said that the project will educate the farmers and agricultural inputs suppliers on how to control postharvest losses through appropriate and affordable storage. “Definitely the project we are launching here today is a big step towards supporting Government’s efforts in addressing postharvest losses,” she pointed out.
The Agriculture Project Manager of the Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania, Ms. Liesl Karen Inglis said during the launch that: “despite the numerous challenges faced by the sector, great opportunities also exist. The sustained increase in demand for aromatic rice guarantees a growing domestic and regional market for rice producers and the availability of improved technology provides farmers with clear pathways to increase outputs and profits.”
On his part, the FAO Representative to Tanzania, Fred Kafeero, said that proper post-harvest management was necessary to ensure food security. “Farmers are at the core of the value chain as they play a significant role on the source of the produced goods,” Mr. Kafeero said. "With improved competitiveness and post-harvest losses management, paddy and other cereals can definitely make the country food self-sufficient, resulting in poverty reduction, increased incomes while ensuring a sustainable supply of food and reliable market for farmers," he added.
In contribution to the SAGCOT initiative, the project will build the managerial capacities of farmer’s organizations to put them at leverage position in collaboration with other value chain actors hence increasing their competitiveness, reducing post-harvest losses, maintaining quality and quantity.
Rice, the second most important crop in the United Republic of Tanzania, is mostly grown by farmers as a cash crop for local and regional markets. Farmers are at the core of the value chain as they play a significant role on the source of the produced goods, post-harvest loses account for about 30% for cereals including the rice sub-sector, therefore addressing the challenge at the farm gate is crucial since chances for losses beyond the farmers level are relatively minimum. With improved competitiveness and post-harvest losses management, paddy and other cereals can definitely make the country food self-sufficient, resulting in poverty reduction, increased incomes while ensuring a sustainable supply of food and a reliable market for farmers.
It is expected that this project will build the managerial capacities of rice farmer’s organizations to put them at leverage position in collaboration with other value chain actors hence increasing their competitiveness, reducing post-harvest losses, maintaining quality and quantity. The project will implement a set of interventions aimed at strengthening the market linkages between value chain actors, including private and public sector buyers through inclusive business models, linkage to structured markets, improving organizational management capacities, upgrading post-harvest facilities and coordination. Market practical support services will be provided to paddy smallholder farmers and upstream value chain actors to access markets and capture market growth opportunities in the domestic and regional markets. It is envisaged that these interventions will bring the technical and management know-how which is necessary for the smallholder farmers working in the rice value chain to enhance their competitiveness. It is recognized that women and youth have a key role to play in the rice sub-sector and therefore special consideration will be made to ensure that women and young farmers benefit from the project initiatives.