Millions, if not billions, of dollars of both public and private funds have been pumped into the development of Africa’s agricultural sector over the last couple of decades. Although some results are now evident, the return on investment has been dismal; to say the least.
Different actors have worked with the same farmers at different times without full regard of past interventions, past gains or lessons learnt. This has resulted in major wastage of resources, lack of attainment of the desired results and, frankly, disillusionment of the farmers.
As part of its new strategy that aims to increase the incomes and yields of close to 30 million smallholder households in 11 countries in Africa, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is adopting the consortia approach in its engagement with grantees and partners.
In one of the best illustrations of this approach, over 30 partners have come together in Tanzania, one of the continent’s potential agriculture powerhouses, to leverage their experiences, resources and capacity to deliver an inclusive agricultural transformation to benefit up to 3.5 million smallholder farmers through increased productivity and income.
“We aim to raise the average farmer’s income to beyond national GDP per capita. We are very deliberate in our targeting and are only working with farmers that require the final support to enable them graduate into farming as a business,” Said Prof. Nuhu Hatibu, Head of AGRA for Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
The Tanzanian partners include representatives of relevant Tanzania Government ministries and departments, private sector companies, local non-governmental organizations and youth and women groups. Working with these partners, AGRA and its funding partners are investing about US$ 15 million in the next five years to build on past successes. Some of the most notable achievements from past work that will catalyze the transformation range from the seed systems that have seen over 100MT of high yielding seeds produced and distributed; the 1.5 million farmers that have been trained on farming as a business; the advanced agricultural technologies that have been provided to over 400,000 farmers; improved markets that have resulted in close to 600MT of crop sold on contracts; the engagement of 15 financial institutions resulting in the disbursement of loans worth 1.5 million USD benefiting about 110,000 farmers and about 500 SMEs; and the reforming of 8 major policies.
“The intention is for each one of the partners to bring their A-game to the table. We have all worked with many farmers, enabled them to make major strides in their use of improved crop varieties and adoption of proper technologies which has resulted in increased productivity. Our target now is to give them the final support through access to mechanization, to finance and to structured markets,” said Prof. Hatibu. “As a university professor, I do not produce engineers from class one students but the best high school graduates. My success depends on the work done by others in the formative years of the student. I would like to apply the same approach when graduating farmers from subsistence to commercial agriculture,” added the retired don who decided to play his card to transform farmers.
In keeping with AGRA’s new approach that recognizes the centrality of governments in the attainment of the transformation, the project in Tanzania, dubbed ‘Farming for Industrialization’, will contribute to the Governments priority to attain semi-industrialized status by 2025. “Every level of the agricultural value chain from inputs production to farming, value addition and marketing, will be a key part of the industrialization priority by the government,” said Prof. Hatibu.
The investments in Tanzania have benefited from financing by a number of partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Mastercard Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).