AGRA YieldWise Maize Program in Tanzania
Introduction: AGRA YieldWise intervention seeks to reduce postharvest losses in Tanzania maize value chain by half by 2018 by linking surplus maize producers to input suppliers and output buyers; aggregating and training farmers; improving access to finance; linking entrepreneurs with manufacturers of technologies and supporting prioritization of loss reduction by value chain actors. The intervention is being implemented in Northern, Central and Southern Highlands of Tanzania. The planned scale of impact is to mobilize and train 100,000 smallholder farmers for aggregation of 300,000MT of maize for purchase by anchor buyers through forward delivery contracts. A minimum 60% of the 100k smallholder farmers are expected to utilize loss reduction technologies.
World Food Program is a co-leader of this partnership; other implementing partners include Center for Sustainable Development Initiatives, Rural and Urban Development Initiatives, Building Rural Income Through Enterprise, Innovare L3, Input Suppliers (YARA, BAYER, SYNGENTA, SEEDCO, PANNAR) and Commercial Banks (Equity, NMB, CRDB and AKIBA). Besides the Tanzania Government, other stakeholders are Farmer Organizations, Maize Commodity Traders and Processors, Agro Dealers, Manufacturers of Postharvest Technologies and Smallholder maize producers.
Aggregation and Training: In the 2015/16 production season, AGRA and partners mobilized 25,000 maize farmers into 52 aggregation centers. Out of the 52 centers, 10 were in the northern zone, 6 in the central zone and 36 were in the southern zone. These aggregation centers were shared across 27 Farmer Organizations in North, Central and Southern Highlands of Tanzania. More than 90% of these farmers were trained in postharvest management, 47% of these were female farmers. A smaller fraction (20%) were trained in good agronomic practices as well. Postharvest technology manufacturers and production input suppliers participated in the training explaining best practices for use and handling the specific products they supplied. . Technology demonstration plots and hermetic technology demonstrations were conducted to supplement learning.
As training efforts scale, AGRA will also be piloting new digital training materials and training 200 trainers. They are also encouraging YieldWise service providers to use social media to share information received in trainings and around PHL reduction.
Market Linkages: A total 27 forward delivery contracts were signed by six anchor buyers for the procurement of 21,360MT of maize from aggregation centers. In the first marketing season in 2016, over 30,000MT of maize was aggregated by farmers. Out of the 27 contracts, 16 were honored but none of them fully. Only 9% of the aggregated volumes was taken up by contracted off-takers. Alternative buyers succeeded in procuring the bulk of the aggregated volumes by luring farmers with price offers higher than what anchor buyers offered. The single largest alternative buyer was National Food Reserve Agency which procured 39% of the aggregated volumes. This experience provided signs that the aggregation model was feasible and forward delivery contracts worked but the capacity of anchor buyers was out matched by that of alternative buyers.
Access to Finance: With support from the WFP led Patient Procurement Platform, forward delivery contracts were used to collateralize input loans. Loans for fertilizer, hybrid seeds and herbicides worth over $630,000 were accessed by 3740 farmers, with majority of them accessing fertilizers and seeds through other channels. Repayment for these loans surpassed 85%, and non-repayment was attributed to crop failure due to unpredictable weather and crop diseases. In 2017,an aggregated project crop insurance at 2.5% of the loan value will be embedded in the cost of the loan to ensure all farmers are covered against crop loss.
The $400,000 revolving fund was established with partnership with Equity Bank Tanzania. The revolving fund will provide SMEs with working capital loans to distribute postharvest technologies. The fund is expected to be utilized by SMEs for the 2017 postharvest season.
Distribution and Utilization of Postharvest Technologies: There were indications of postharvest loss reduction on-farm through the use of harvesting and postharvest technologies e.g. tarpaulins and hermetic storage technologies. Uptake of hermetic bags was growing as supply chain actors were distributing products and bringing them closer to the farmers. Over 104,500 units of hermetic bags were distributed by SMEs in the project areas. Agro dealer networks and farmers associations were active players of this delivery chain. Additional effort was still required in engaging local media in raising awareness and training farmers. Innovare L3, is set to conduct an asset lease pilot for grain handling equipment targeting local entrepreneurs interested in providing grain shelling and drying contract services to farmers. Significant demand for fee-based mechanical shelling service already exist and is expected to grow.
Prioritization of loss reduction: AGRA is gaining traction in the national policy arena by contributing to the development of a national strategy for postharvest management with the Department of Postharvest Management within the Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture, this strategy is expected to be launched in 2017. AGRA is working with policy Advocacy partners such as Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum to support Government prioritize postharvest loss reduction by addressing potentially negative consequences of ongoing policy e.g. export trade restrictions have reduced the appetite for anchor buyers to compete for maize in the market, and the active participation of NFRA in purchasing maize above market prices continue to paralyze private buyers. NFRA is being courted to participate in the PPP so that its operations are more certain and predictable.