Over 10,000 rice smallholder farmers in Iringa region including women and youth, are set to benefit from a modern warehouse and harvesting equipment funded by the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to the tune of 274,832 Euro (over 774,856,428 Tanzanian Shillings).
Both the warehouse (at Isele, Magozi village in Iringa district) and the harvesting equipment will increase the local small holders’ harvesting and postharvest management capacity, hence improving their competitiveness in the market as rice value chain actors.
The Guest of Honour, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Gerald Kusaya, speaking during the handing over ceremony in Iringa today acknowledged the generous support and said the facility and equipment with mechanized technologies will add to the ongoing efforts by the Government and other partners to reduce postharvest losses and help achieve lasting food security and export.
“We are working with both public and private sector partners to improve food production in the country,” he said, adding: “The main objective is to ensure that there is enough investment in the rice value chain from production, storage, processing, packaging, transporting and accessing markets and to avoid post-harvest losses that could lead to food insecurity.”
Also during the handover, the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union in Tanzania, Mr. Cédric Merel said that: “We hope that all the stakeholders will work together to make sure the warehouses and harvesting equipment funded under this project benefit as many smallholder farmers as possible in this region, and that proper maintenance is ensured. This will help to reduce important post-harvest losses and increase farmers’ incomes for many years to come.”
On his part, the Assistant to FAO Representative to Tanzania, Mr. Charles Tulahi, said that proper post-harvest management was necessary to ensure food security. "With improved competitiveness and post-harvest loss management, paddy and other cereals can definitely make the country more food self-sufficient, resulting in poverty reduction while ensuring a sustainable supply of food and reliable market for farmers," he added.
The warehouse and harvesting equipment with mechanized technology is part of a broader project called “Improve Competitiveness and Increase Postharvest Management Capacity of Smallholder Farmers in the Rice Value Chain” funded by the European Union (80%) and the FAO (20%) to the tune of 1,875,000 Euros (over 5.2 billion Tanzanian Shillings). The project has been implemented in Iringa District by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Iringa District Council and the Rural and Urban Development Initiatives. The European Union has been supporting this project with a contribution of 1.5 million Euros. (Approx. 3.9 billion Tanzanian Shillings).
Rice, the second most important food 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 losses 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 farm gate are relatively minimum. With improved competitiveness and post-harvest losses management, paddy and other cereals are making the country food self-sufficient, resulting in poverty reduction, increased incomes while ensuring a sustainable supply of food and a reliable market for farmers.
The project has built the managerial capacities of twelve rice farmer’s organizations putting them at the leverage position in collaboration with other value chain actors hence increasing their competitiveness in the market, reducing post-harvest losses, maintaining good quality and quantity. The interventions has brought technical and managerial know-how, which is necessary for the smallholder farmers working collectively 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 was given to them to ensure that women and young farmers benefit from the project.