Horticulture smallholder farmers across Tanzania and beyond are challenged with systemic constraints within the market system, including post harvest management and marketing. What is one solution? To take matters into their own hands. Tahira Nizari, Senior Programme Officer, Enterprise & Economic Development for the Aga Khan Foundation Tanzania tells us how.
Chidya Marketing Association in Mtwara region is located at a crossroads hub between three trade routes, yet has faced poor infrastructure for storage, trade, and market services. In 2016 and 2017, Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) supported Chidya to construct their own market facility through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). With funding from the European Union in Tanzania, AKF supported Chidya with the construction, while the district government authorities contributed in monetary and human resources, and the local community donated land and labour.
The outcome? A fully functioning marketplace in rural Mtwara that serves horticulture traders and producers. The market size can accommodate trade of up to 20 tons of vegetable produce per day and the cold room storage facility has the capacity to store up to 3 tons. There is also an income-generating enterprise within the facility, including two state-of the-art vegetable weighing scales, as well as an input supply shop to enable easy access to agro-inputs.
Business service providers will be drawn in by the nascent market opportunity, resulting in clusters of relevant services for both buyers and traders and off-farm employment opportunities. Beyond the impact of reaching 11,800 (53% or 6,200 female) farmers in and around Chidya, this PPP is demonstrating the potential for local communities and the government to improve standards and the market environment in cooperation, and for strategic alliances to be forged around common goals.
To further support the most effective use of the facility, AKF has been coaching the newly formed market committee on business management and leadership skills. With revenue from the market services, the Marketing Association will cover operations and maintenance costs, as well as pool funds to invest in further improvements and development of the facility.
On March 24, a formal inauguration was held in Chidya, including representation of local government authorities from Masasi District and beyond, the European Union, AKF, and private sector agri-businesses. Smallholder farmers have already started to use the facility and other private sector value addition partners have visited to start business support services. For example, TLL Printing & Packaging Limited (a company established by Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development) demonstrated how to use their fruit and vegetable boxing for longer life storage and transportation. In addition, agri-business buyers that are keen to invest in Mtwara and Lindi Regions and export horticulture products to Europe were in attendance.
The initiative was implemented under the Horticulture Value Chain Development project implemented by AKF and funded by the EU in Tanzania from 2014 to 2017. The project is part of the larger Trade and Agriculture Support Program (TASP) under the 10th European Development Fund; a €15 million (approximately TZS 35.4 billion) programme. TASP focuses on key commodities offering opportunities for pro-poor trade in the horticulture, fisheries, cotton, coffee and tea sectors. The objective is to increase smallholder farmers’ income through better access to national, regional and international markets, by enhancing quality and standards compliance along the value chain.
The project implemented by AKF has reached up to 6,000 smallholder farmers (20% women and 48% youth) in Lindi and Mtwara regions through value chain development of tomatoes, onions, leafy greens, bell peppers, and chilies. Farmers have improved incomes as they are producing better quality and higher volumes of vegetables and able to market these. Adoption of good agriculture practice and technologies (pedal irrigation pump, green house and drip irrigation) combined with improved access to packaging, storage and markets under the project is changing lives of smallholder farmers in this region. AKF has also partnered with Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) in addressing key policy issues and improving market information systems.