Mbeya, Tanzania: February 16, 2022 – Boosting production of strategic crops, such as soybean, for local and international markets, as well as industrial raw materials, is the way forward for Tanzania’s agriculture, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania H.E. Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, has said.
H.E Kikwete, who is a member of the Board of AGRA (the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), spoke in Mbeya Town, during his ongoing field tour of projects supported by the organization. He challenged stakeholders to beef up improved soybean farming in Mbeya, Njombe, Ruvuma, Iringa and other parts of the Southern Highland region to meet and expand the current annual market of 300,000 tonnes to China.
“A hectare of soybeans yields up to one tonne, which means about 300,000 hectares can produce enough for the Chinese market. We need to work together to introduce more farmers into soybean farming,” he said, lamenting cases of agro-processing industries operating below capacity due to inadequate raw material.
Between 2017 and 2021, AGRA worked with diverse partners to link farmers to input and output markets, increasing maize, beans and soybean production in Iringa, Njombe and Ruvuma Regions.
H.E. Kikwete is accompanied by Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hon. Anthony Mavunde, AGRA’s Vice President for Program Innovation & Delivery, Agnes Asiimwe Konde and Tanzania Country Manager Vianey Rweyendela as well as private and public sector stakeholders.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), Geoffrey Kirenga, called on agricultural stakeholders to continue promoting adoption of improved technologies to remain competitive, improve efficiency and quality of produce.
H.E. Kikwete’s delegation also visited Raphael Group Limited, a rice miller in Mbeya Town, which also deals in beans, sorghum, groundnuts, sunflower and maize. Raphael Group Limited is a key market, buying produce from over 42,000 small-scale farmers, some of whom have been supported by AGRA, through the SAGCOT initiative dubbed the Integrated Knowledge and Information for Agriculture (SIKIA), which has been critical in empowering rice farmers to increase yields and incomes.
“I value smallholder farmers. I am part of them. I work with them. I started from very low, with a small store where I could only keep eight bags of maize,” Raphael Simon Ndelwa, the CEO of Raphael Group, told the delegation. The company provides warehousing facilities to smallholder farmers, who need storage for at least 10 bags of produce.
At Meru Agro-seed Multiplication Farm in Mbozi Songwe, H.E. Kikwete hailed the homegrown company for enabling smallholder farmers access quality seeds. The firm previously received support from AGRA to increase its maize seed multiplication capacity to over 3000 tonnes per season.
“There is need to increase efforts in enabling more local production of improved seeds that are affordable for smallholder farmers,” he noted.
The former President’s delegation also visited Mpui Saccos/Amcos, a farmers’ organization with over 1000 members that has benefited from AGRA’s initiative to increase production. Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Anthony Mavude, pledged to send experts from the ministry to work with the farmers on accessing sunflower seeds.
Earlier, the former President heard from agro-dealers, farmers organizations, aggregators and processors in the Iringa Region on how AGRA’s Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) initiatives in Tanzania have increased uptake of their respective activities and production along the agriculture value chain.
Expressing satisfaction with AGRA’s impact in boosting the agricultural sector, H.E. Kikwete hailed self-made entrepreneurs including input suppliers and processors along the agriculture value chain, who started small and steadily grew into bigger and formidable enterprises serving thousands of farmers, with support from AGRA.
Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with our partners, we catalyze and sustain an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security in 11 countries.
Rebecca Weaver, firstname.lastname@example.org|