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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

SUPPORTING THE PROMOTERS OF THE GREEN REVOLUTION

kilimokwanza@guardian.co.tz

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SUMAJKT injects 100s of tractors into Kilimo


The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

EDITORIAL

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inside

Poor technology blamed for low agro-processing rate

With careful planning, extension services pay

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LSEWHERE in this supplement we carry the inspiring story of how the intervention of extension staff has helped poultry keeping graduate from drudgery with hardly any future to a commercial undertaking that has injected immense meaning into the lives of the villagers engaged in the business. We hear both the experts involved and the beneficiaries recount how what one could only imagine has grown into a dream come true. We are told about the ever rising popularity of - and demand for - ‘traditional’ species of chickens at the expense of the much better marketed, much more abundant and less expensive so-called modern breeds. One especially heart-warming aspect to the sweet tale is the fact that the business is not only attracting but also benefiting swelling numbers of women, who would otherwise have belonged to the swarms of the segments of our population not fully or really meaningfully employed. But this said, daunting challenges and problems remain, some having to do with availability of the services extension staff are expected to offer as well as accessibility and affordability of inputs. Fortunately, one the pillars of the Kilimo Kwanza initiative underscores the need to ensure ready accessibility of both relevant expertise and inputs to all those engaged in agriculture, be it in animal husbandry, poultry, farming, etc. As expected, the nature of the training of agricultural extension officers is such that it is not that easy to have enough of these experts to meet the country’s demand. But if more of the relatively few already in place were to heed the government’s repeated calls to leave their air-conditioned offices and really be ‘on location’, meaning as close as possible to the people in need of their services, we would have long witnessed a real revolution in our agriculture. But having enough extension staff and deploying them as fast and appropriately as possible can only yield enough dividends if the professional advice of these experts does not fall on deaf ears. Put differently, farming communities and indeed the entire nation ought to appreciate the fact that it no longer pays for nations to run present-day agriculture the way they used to in decades gone by. All countries that have made giant strides in modern agriculture have invested heavily in the drawing up agricultural science policies and place a premium on the financing of agricultural research. Some have gone to the extent of forming cross-border alliances specifically for the purpose, while fully involving the private sector. The gains have been overwhelmingly handsome in

Artwork

& Design: KN Mayunga

terms of enjoying the benefits of economies of scale largely made possible by the exchange of expertise and experiences, and most especially the transfer of agricultural technology. Granted, there may be some logic arguing that it would be unrealistic for developing countries like Tanzania to seek to borrow a leaf from the experience of agricultural extension services in industrialised countries. But one does not have to travel that far to discover that agricultural extension services work best where they are integrated into the overall social and economic fabric of a community or a country. Any ‘alienation’ of the otherwise invaluable intervention can either backfire or come to nothing. For instance, it is reported on authority that agricultural research knowledge and output in Nigeria is well ahead of the Nigerian farmer. Sources say after nearly twenty years of experience with a vastly improved extension service, the country has not yet known genuinely sustained economic growth in its agricultural sector. Experts say a major explanation here is that agricultural research and extension services are of little value unless those targeted (farmers) benefit, in part by putting to effective and practical use the results of whatever research is conducted. Tanzania has long known this for a fact. Time has come to tap from this rich pool of knowledge now – under the spirit of Kilimo Kwanza – by ensuring that agricultural research and extension services appropriately and usefully tie in with the knowledge the people already have and with the people’s needs and aspirations. This calls for education, mobilisation and sensitisation of the people on the immense benefits of practising modern agricultural methods. The poultry farmers of Manyoni and Singida, whom residents of Dar es Salaam have found invaluable suppliers of traditional breeds of chickens believed to be free from various forms of ‘toxic waste’, have moved miles ahead – and have no regrets. Emulating them holds all manner of promises.

The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

MECHANISATION

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SUMAJKT injects hundreds of tractors into Kilimo Kwanza

Grain trade: Premier Pinda continues to switch on and off 4

Farming needs to make money to drive growth

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By Angel Navuri

Wallace Mauggo Editor

13 To have your organisation promoted in Kilimo Kwanza, Call: 0787 571308, 0655 571308 0754 571308

ife gets easier for farmers in the country, thanks to SUMAJKT which has introduced economical tractors that can perform more than one task. The tractors are also available at cheap prices. According to Zablon Mdoe (rtd) Major, the technical expert for the SUMAJKT tractors, the multipurpose tractors that were brought in from India can do ploughing, produce electrical power, draw water from boreholes as well as connect a timber machine.

Mdoe said the tractors are designed to use limited fuel that is 4 litres per acre depending on the type of soil, while in idling mode more than a litre of diesel per hour. They also don’t over heat when they are on and have a one year warranty. Farmers interested in buying the tractors need not worry since SUMAJKT provides technical support to buyers. They also provide training to the farmers and make sure that the tractor is made use of once purchased rather than staying idle at home. Mdoe who has been dealing with tractors for 46 years said there’s a need for the youths to specialize in agricul-

ture and tractors instead of depending on government employment which are very scarce. He said in order to do well, agriculture needs professionals rather than depend on uninformed people. SUMAJKT’s Tractors Project Manager, Lt Col Felix Samillan said that the after sale service will be done to the farmers by professionals through their camps scattered almost in every district where Agro-Mechanical Engineers are available and patriotism education is provided to the youths and extensive agricultural activities will be carried out as well. He said the move is inline with the government’s support in implementa-

tion of the Agriculture First initiative intended to eliminate poverty and foster economic growth. On his part SUMAJKT Marketing Manager, said the project is making use of other opportunities in agricultural lending offered by Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) and other financial institutions, to ensure that farmers get tractors before the end of this cultivation season. The brand of the tractors is farmtrac, made by escorts from India whereby a 50 horsepower tractor is sold at Tshs 19.5million and a 60 horsepower tractor goes for Tshs 25million. The tractors will be sold also on credit to be

paid through appointed financial institutions like CRDB Bank, National Microfinance Bank (NMB) and Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) among others. The project will enable farmers to increase productivity, hence reduce famine and once successful, it will help the government save millions of money spent in importing food besides increasing food stock at the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR). Tanzanian farmers are facing a lot of challenges including poor farming inputs, lack of international markets and high prices for agricultural equipment charged by private firms.


The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

MECHANISATION

The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

MECHANISATION

5

National Service Corporation Sole

(SUMAJKT)

SUMAJKT injects many tractors into Kilimo

Poor technology blamed for low agro-processing rate W

hile agro-processing is a critical element in the overall agricultural development of any country, in Tanzania, it is recorded as the weakest link in the country’s agriculture. This, according to think tanks in the sector could be a setback in achieving a green revolution in the country. This was revealed by the head of Agricultural Engineering and Land Planning Department at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Prof. Valerian Silayo when addressing a recent engineers meeting on Kilimo Kwanza. In his paper, “Promotion of Irrigation and Value Addition to AgroProducts for Profitability,” Prof. Silayo said only about 1% of Tanzania’s agricultural produces is processed compared to between 20% and 70% for some medium level third world coun-

tries. This he said is due to unsustainable availability of raw materials, poor transport network and insufficient supply of power and potable water. He mentioned other reasons as being high operational costs resulting from high price of imported fuels and spare parts, unavailable appropriate machines and limited knowledge in the operation of the machines. “Agro-processing in Tanzania constitute 90% of the main industrial activities and is dominated by small and medium enterprises specializing in food processing including dairy products, meat packing, preserving fruits and vegetables,” he explained. He said the remaining 10% is constituted by large factories including cement, rolled steel, corrugated iron, aluminum sheets, cigarette, beer, bottling beverages, fruit juices and mineral water. Prof. Silayo noted that the industrial sector’s contribution to the GDP is

estimated at 22.7%. However, Tanzania is at the bottom of the trade diversification index where its position is 103 out of 110. This explains why Tanzania continues to depend on traditional export crops with cashew nuts, coffee, cotton, sisal, tea and tobacco accounting for 21% of agricultural export. “The potential for Tanzania to increase GDP growth through agro-processing and agribusiness is therefore very high,” Prof. Silayo said. He summarized the agro-processing facilities in Tanzania into cluster of important agricultural commodities whereby cereal grains and oil seeds are perhaps the most established area of agro-processing industry in both small and medium enterprises levels found in both urban and rural areas especially in maize milling, rice de-hulling and cooking oil extraction. A 2010 survey by the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Cooperatives es-

tablished that there was a total of 2,968 machines in a sample of only 16 districts out of 117 districts of Tanzania. The study shows the main constraints in these sub-sectors as being on performance and efficiency of the machines used, expensive spare parts, quality of products and low technical know- how of the operators. Giving an example of cashew nuts and ground nuts, Prof. Silayo said Tanzania has an opportunity to exceed in agro-processing since it has 12 large state-owned cashew nut processing plants with installed processing capacity of about 112,000 tonnes of raw material per year compared with annual farm production of between 84,000 and 128,000 000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts. However, this has not been possible due to inappropriate processing technology and failure to compete in markets. As a result all of these plants were divested to private ownership but todate most of them are not functioning

and few have been turned into warehouses and converted into rather smallscale Steam Heat Cutting process, resulting into low processing capacity. Statistics show that more than 95% of cashew produced is exported raw to India while the rest, slightly over 5,000 tonnes of raw materials is processed in cottage industries and few Steam Heat Cutting based processing plants. Beverages constitute the traditional export crops, mostly semi-processed within their production localities. Capacity to process and blending to produce specialty products of higher value is very small and a few locally processed products have not managed to compete with those from other countries like Kenya. Fibres such as sisal, cotton and jute are traditional export crops with well established semi-processing plants. However, the capacity to produce yarns, fabrics, twines and other finished products is small.

“This denies the nation a good income that would grow from selling value added finished products,” Prof. Silayo noted. Giving an example of the livestock sector which contributes about 30% of the agricultural GDP, Prof. Silayo said vibrant processing of livestock and fish products could contribute significantly to increase GDP. “But with 17 million of herds of cattle Tanzania has only two beef packaging industries, one in Sumbawanga and the other in Morogoro. It also has dairy industries in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Musoma, Iringa, Arusha and Tabora and a few fish processing plants in Mwanza and Musoma,” Prof. Silayo said. Generally, the sector has not been performing well owing to low quality meat, high insufficient milk production and low quality of skins and hides resulting from the branding practices. These hindrances have led to suspension of the operations of the meat packaging plant in Morogoro and the milk processing plant in Arusha. Prof. Silayo said the only three large-scale tanning industries which were divested to private ownership are operating below their installed ca-

pacity and that one of them is either already closed down or diverted to other use. The underperformance of these plants has resulted to about 80% of skin and hides being exported as raw and 20% processed into semi-finished forms. Only a very small fraction is processed to finished leather for use by leather industries. In his paper “Requirement of Engineers, Technologists and Researchers for Realising the Kilimo Kwanza Interventions,” Prof. Patrick Makungu from the Ministry of Communication Science Technology said agriculture must first be transformed for it to take the lead role in stimulating social-economic development. Prof. Makungu said the transformation should involve reducing the dominance of subsistence agriculture and promoting commercial farming among the smallholders. He said engineering input in this process will be central and that problems facing the industry that require engineering input include low productivity, high level of losses, sub-optimal use of modern technologies and inadequate infrastructure.

The target groups are District Councils, Agriculture oriented SACCOS and individual farmers Farmers hurry for the opportunity

Tractors are sold at a very cheap price P.O. Box 1694, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Mob +255 0717 993 874 • 0715 787 887 • 0784 281 842 Email: agrtractors@yahoo.com

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Only about one percent of Tanzania’s agricultural produces is processed.

Government orders SUMAJKT to reach farmers wherever they are in the country, provide after-sale services


The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

MICROFINANCE

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By Bhoke Msama, Manyoni

Bank loans transform farmers’ lives ending from financial institutions has proved beneficial to farmers who use the loans wisely, it has been learnt.

Not only are these farmers leading better lives due to increased production, but they are also creating jobs for many. A total of 28,000 farmers in the country have so far benefited from bank loans and more are expected to follow suit, thanks to the Private Agriculture Support Sector (PASS), a nonprofit organization which provides collateral to farmers to get the loans. Through PASS loans worth 60bn/were issued to farmers between 2000 and 2010. More farmers are expected to benefit come year 2013. In the 20082013 phase, more than 60bn/- will be issued. PASS Managing Director, Iddy Lujina said the organization has seen improvement in farmers who have been able to seriously follow the professional advice and guidelines they were given on how to use loan money. These, Lujina said, were now living better lives.

“There is a farmer in Kongwa District in Dodoma, Yosia Mahava who now owns 1,115 cattle and gets 160 litres of milk a day,” said Lujina. Mahava has expanded his farm from the 198 acres he started with in 2002 to 2,000 acres today. He started his project in 2002 after obtaining a 12m/- loan with which he bought 20 cows. In 2006 he obtained a 60m/- loan and expanded his farm. PASS recognised Mahava as the most successful farmer during this year’s Nane Nane farmer’s show in Dodoma. Mahava has managed to control cattle deaths from 5 per cent to 1.6 per cent and managed to raise cattle bearing from 55 per cent to 80 per cent. Between 2003 and 2008, 111 projects under PASS qualified for loans worth 5.2bn/-. Agriculture accounted for nine per cent of all the projects. Lujina said projects under his organization have seen an increase in productivity due to professional advice provided by the organization. Production has risen from 75 per cent to 85 per cent and sometimes goes as higher as 90 per cent. According to him, projects undertaken without professional advice have a production average of 65 per cent. For example, Lujina says chickens

With Kilimo Kwanza in place, it is expected that insurance companies in Tanzania will also take part in the Green Revolution and therefore provide insurance cover to farmers

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By Lazaro Felix

for meat that are raised locally weigh 1.7 kilogrammes in 8 to 10 months while poultry farmers under PASS have their chicken weighing 1.7 kilogrammes in six to seven weeks. They also have their pigs weighing 80 kilogrammes at the age of six months while those raised locally weigh 80 to 90 kilogrammes at the age of eight months. And what does a farmer need to qualify for a loan through PASS? Lujina says a farmer needs to pay an equivalent of 20 per cent of the loan applied as advance, money that has to come from the project for which the loan is applied. Responding to some concerns raised by farmers like the 30,000/- entrance fee and the 20 per cent equivalent of the applied loan advance as being an obstacle to obtaining loans, Lujina said, these charges cannot hinder one from running their project if they at all are serious and willing to develop their projects. Other challenges facing farmers include climatic changes that affect crops, lack of experience in using modern farming systems, poor equipment, lack of reliable markets and a shortage of extension officers. And as for cultivating and harvesting risks, there is always no compen-

sation as is the case in developed countries where insurance companies provide cover to farmers. With Kilimo Kwanza in place, it is expected that insurance companies in Tanzania will also take part in the Green Revolution and therefore provide insurance cover to farmers. PASS is a private organization entity established in 2000 with the goal to stimulate increased growth of private commercial farmers and agricultural activities based on business and works. In collaboration with banks, PASS aims at enabling individuals and companies to get loans for viable investment by making feasibility studies and business plans to submit to the bank. It also provides counseling in financial management of investments and backing up loans applications by topping up collateral to a level demanded by banks. PASS works with banks such as the Exim Bank, National Microfinance Bank (NMB), Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) CRDB Ltd, African Banking Corporation (ABC) Ltd and FBME BANK LTD. One of its future prospects is adding more banks to provide its clients with a wider range of institutions to borrow from.

The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

ree-range local chickens have since time immemorial been kept in most households in Africa. But unlike in the past where the chickens used to be kept for family consumption only, today they are the source of income for many families. . Henry Olota is a poultry farmer in Saranda village, Singida District whose income depends entirely on free-range local chicken farming. Today the father of nine who started with only 25 chickens in his backyard farm earns enough from the business to meet all his family demands. He is now a proud owner of 200 chickens from which he generates enough money to even pay for his children’s education, some who are in secondary school. A single chicken brings in between Tshs 6000 and Tsh7000. Olota earns Tshs 200,000 per month from the business. This has been possible due to the training Olota received on how to produce quality chickens for business from the Dodoma-based Rural Livelihood Development Company (RLDC). Before RLDC’s intervention, no one in Saranda village imagined local chicken rearing would be the main livelihood for many people in the village. Like many other local chicken farmers, Olota used to just keep the chicken in a traditional way for family consumption. But things changed for the better for him after he received training from RLDC, modernized his chicken rearing and joined the Amani chicken keepers group. His household income has since improved. Joining the chicken keepers group has not only enabled Ulota to increase the number of his chicken flock but has also given him an opportunity to be part of the Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS) in his village which was established by his group. Like other members of the group, Ulota is able to save and borrow money from the SACCOS. According to Ulota, earning an income from selling chickens and eggs has enabled him to save for rainy days. On the other hand, he uses manure from the chickens to benefit crops in his farm. This has in turn seen an increase in the yield of his crops. The chickens have also been a source of protein for Ulota’s family. And as it seems, there is a high potential in local chickens rearing waiting to be tapped. In most urban areas, local chickens’ eggs and meat are more expensive than the intensively reared poultry because the former are considered free of antibiotics, hormones and other harmful chemicals. Consumers of local chickens’ meat talk about it being more delicious than that of broilers. A 2003 Livestock Research for Rural Development by M. Mlozi and colleagues from Sokoine University of Agriculture has it that local chickens competed better than other alternative protein sources implying that the marketing of local chickens was still unsaturated. “Despite the higher prices of local chickens they are higher demanded than any other alternative protein sources such as beef, broiler, fish and beans,” reads part of the study report. A 2008 study by the then Steadman Research Services Company (now Synovate Tanzania) shows that about 60% of rural households (or about 1.17 million households) in the

POULTRY

Traditional poultry sector empowers farmers in Manyoni

A Manyoni poultry farmer Mr Mginga feeding his chickens

central corridor keep chickens of which the vast majority (98%) are local breeds, and most of these rural house-

holds keep local chickens for subsistence and income generation. It is estimated that there are about 9.2 million

chickens in the central corridor only. And because of RLDC, people like Ulota and his colleagues in Saranda

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have realised the potential in the indigenous poultry sector and are trying their hands on the business. Ulota says the education he and his colleagues were given by extension officers and RLDC helped them form a group of 50 people who were then divided into various sub-groups of 8 people each. Each group was assigned a different task such as marketing the products, disease control, chicken feed production, and breeding and hatching to mention but a few. The results according to him are clear. For example the group that deals with savings and lending money helps poultry farmers to secure loans and other micro finance facilities to improve and expand their chicken rearing activities into commercial business. “We as a group managed to produce 3,600 chickens in two months and we are looking forward to securing a big compound which can accommodate a larger number of chickens,” says Ulota. He reveals that because of indigenous chickens, the group members have been able to build standard houses and send their children to school unlike before when the majority of them used to live in extreme poverty despite keeping the chickens. He says life for the chicken farmers have changed to the better and that chicken production has increased since the market of local chicken is large even outside Manyoni. Farmers have been selling their products as far as Dodoma and this has encouraged many farmers to involve themselves in keeping local chickens. Olota thinks the marketing system for local chickens is not bad because they have a lot of customers inside and outside Manyoni. However, they have been facing challenges too. These include a shortage of chicken feed and vaccinating local chickens which has been putting off many farmers who would have involved themselves in the poultry business otherwise. The Singida Regional Commissioner, Dr. Parseko Kone said that RLDC has proved wrong those who shunned investing in Singida given it’s dry land. RLDC’s successful projects in the region are evidence that there is investment potential in Singida. Examples of the projects are sunflower and poultry farming in Dodoma and Singida, both which are semi arid areas. “Many stakeholders in the agriculture sector were not ready to invest in regions like Singida due to many problems facing the region but through RLDC, many projects have shown significant achievements,” he said The Chief Executive Officer of Rural Livelihood Development Company, Chalres Ogutu said the company aimed at transforming the poultry sector from a subsistence activity into a commercial business, in order to provide employment and income for rural small holder producers especially to women who have shown a big interest in the business as compared to men. “So far poultry farming has proven to be a major opportunity to make immediate gains for rural producers, accessibility of inputs and services have shown significant profits,” explained Ogutu. The Rural Livelihood Development Company works under the Swiss government and aims at improving the life of producers in the rural areas by offering them training and education to help them improve their agricultural production.


The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

POLICY

The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

POLICY

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Are we serious in implementing Kilimo Kwanza pillars? n one of his memorable speeches in 1982, founding father Mwalimu Nyerere complained of how the country was neglecting agriculture. He said given its importance in the country’s development, agriculture and the needs of the agricultural producers were supposed to be given first priority in all economic planning. “Instead, we have treated agriculture as if it was something peripheral, or just another activity in the country, to be treated at par with all others, and used by the others without having any special claim upon them. We are neglecting agriculture,” said Nyerere. He said if this had not been the case; “every ministry without exception, and every parastatal and every party meeting would be working on the direct and indirect needs of the agricultural producer.” Mwalimu called upon the nation to stop neglecting agriculture and instead give it the central place in all the country’s development planning. “For agriculture is indeed the foundation of all our progress,” Nyerere said. Finally the fourth phase government has rekindled Nyerere’s dream of prioritizing agriculture by coming up with the Kilimo Kwanza strategy. In order to achieve a green revolution, Tanzania decided to adopt without delay the proposed ten pillars of Kilimo Kwanza. A detailed matrix showing different tasks assigned to different institutions and the time frame for implementation of the tasks was developed. Today we start looking at some sections of the second pillar which talks about financing Kilimo Kwanza. The first activity as shown on the matrix is increasing government budgetary allocation to Kilimo Kwanza. The responsible institutions here are the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) and Governmental Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) whose task include allocating not less than 10% of the national budget to agriculture in 2010/11 and progressively increase thereafter starting in December 2009. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in collaboration with the finance ministry, MDA’s and Local Government Authorities (LGA’s) are tasked to make sure budgets of all other ministries are oriented to supporting Kilimo Kwanza. This was to start from December 2009. The finance ministry in collaboration with the MDA’s are also supposed to encourage development partners to support Kilimo Kwanza, a task that is continuous. Another task assigned to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) in collaboration with the min-

istry of finance, development partners and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives (MAFC’s) is to increase budgetary allocation to irrigate over 7 million hectares by 2015. Commenting on the implementation of the above, government budgetary allocation to Kilimo Kwanza, that is, the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) had this to say; “The government is commended for its efforts of raising budgetary allocation to agricultural sector from 6.4% of the national budget during FY 2008/09 to 7.9% for 2009/10. However the amount is noted to be low, recalling the Maputo Declaration in which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries benchmarked budgetary allocation of “not less than10%” to the agricultural sector by year 2008/2009. This should definitely be the case for 2010/11 and progressively increase thereafter.” According to TNBC, “given the importance of irrigation, budgetary increases should be allocated to this sub sector aiming at irrigating 7.1 million ha. of arable land for that purpose.” The second activity on the matrix is establishment of the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) which was supposed to be done by December 2009. This bank is supposed to fill the existing gap in the financial system whereby there does not exist a credit institution lending to farmers. The bank is expected to provide farmers with loans whose conditions include grace periods of two to four years, single digit interest rates and a repayment period of 10 to 15 years. The Bank of Tanzania was assigned the lead responsibility in fast tracking the establishment of TADB with initial capitalization of USD 500 million. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs is the key collaborator. According to the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mstafa Mkullo, only 100bn/- has been allocated so far. Mkullo told Kilimo Kwanza that the government will continue allocating more as people will be lending. “We cannot allocate the whole amount to avoid misuse of the funds. That’s why we will be adding more money every year,” he said. TNBC have it that much as government’s commitment to establish the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank is appreciated, it is vital to expedite formation of the bank preferably during FY 2010/2011. They also propose that the Bank extends credit to agricultural production at concessionary terms and conditions using the existing credit delivery mechanism, that is commercial banks, cooperative unions and Savings and Credit

Given the importance of irrigation, budgetary increases should be allocated to this sub sector aiming at irrigating 7.1 million ha. of arable land for that purpose

Cooperative Societies (SACCOS). Mobilising resources for TADB was scheduled to take off in August 2009 and the responsible institutions were the ministry of finance in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Partners. The task

which was scheduled to start in August 2009 is mobilizing loans and grants arrangements for TADB from multilateral and Bilateral sources. The BoT was assigned the lead responsibility of undertaking consultations with Commercial Banks and other stake-

holders towards holding of TADB bonds. The assignment was scheduled to start in August 2009. Commenting on the progress, Minister Mkullo said the response for mobilizing the resources is positive “and we have confirmation of so many

places, we got a lot of commitment from many sources. We are not allowed to disclose the details.” Mkullo said the bonds are not issued yet but will be issued later. “For now we have reached a certain stage,” Mkullo said promising to give more de-

tails after the whole process is completed. Another activity is for the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) to have a special window for concessionary lending for agricultural production whereby the MoFEA in collaboration with the DP’s

and International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) were tasked to increase allocation to the TIB Agriculture Window for concessionary long term lending. This was to commence in August 2009 and according to Mkullo, 22bn/-

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By Angel Navuri and Lazaro Felix

• Reflecting on the second pillar - Finance

has so far been allocated and that more additional funds will be allocated which are yet to be approved. He said 9bn/have been issued out as loans to farmers. Commenting on this, TNBC says the challenge is to increase the amount as well as to increase exposure of the agriculture concessionary window. Lending by TIB in this window is long term, concessionary at between 48% rates of interest with varying grace periods. TIB is not expected to make profits from the operations of this window because it is not taking any risk. Margins are expected to be enough to cover operational costs only, according to TNBC. Another task is to establish social security arrangements for farmers by establishing a specific social security fund for farmers. Starting August 2009, farmers were to be mobilized to join social security schemes and this was to be done by the finance ministry in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s OfficeRegional Administration and Local Government. Asked what the progress was, Minister Mkullo directed the question to TIB. However, officials at TIB said they have no idea about it. All the farmers in Dar es Salaam who were asked whether they had heard about the social security fund for farmers they were surprised such fund existed. None had heard about it.

Robert Matiku, the Managing Director of the Ryangubo Irrigation Farmers Association in Rorya District in Mara Region said he was not aware of the fund. “I have never heard about the fund and I don’t think it exists. I once heard people talking of a certain fund that could be established by the government, but surprisingly, it is yet to be established,” Matiku explained. He however said that the problem with the government is that they do not tell people what they have in store for them but that people only hear such things from other people. Said Ngodoki, a vegetable farmer at Mkwajuni Bondeni in Dar es Salaam was similarly surprised when asked if he knew anything about the social security fund and if the farmers in his area were mobilized to join the social security scheme. Ngodoki who was irrigating his six plots manually during the interview said he knew nothing about the fund and wondered whether his colleagues in the neighbouring plots knew anything about it. “We have a poor farming system that pushes us further into poverty because we lack assistance from the government. I do not even know the location of the fund’s office,” Ngodoki explained. He on the other side wishes for such a fund to be in place because he believes it would help solve some of his farming problems like lack of capital and better irrigation equipment. He complained for never having seen an extension officer visiting his area. Emiliani Segero, a farmer at the Msimbazi Valley in Dar es Salaam says if the fund exists, the farmers in his area have been shut out from it. He would be among the first to join it if he at all would be involved. According to him, he would even borrow from the fund. “I could even take a loan from the fund provided the lending conditions were fair. Some loans come with stringent conditions,” Segero said. Segero said, he only saw two ladies this year, one from Canada and the other from America who came to the Msimbazi Valley to talk to farmers and promised to help them solve some of their problems, mainly safe water for irrigation. The farmers interviewed believe the existence of the security fund would help solve their problems. They also believe in Kilimo Kwanza but wonder whether the ten pillars, which are unknown to the common farmer will be implemented according to plan. Their expectation is that the nation will heed to Mwalimu Nyerere’s advice of giving priority to agriculture if we at all are to develop our economy.


The Guardian KILIMO KWANZA

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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

TRADE

Premier Pinda continues to switch on and off

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By Miki Tasseni

RIME Minister Mizengo Pinda was back in the news following a long lay off with boredom as he has no campaign of his own to conduct, and no one seems to need his presence in the presidential candidate’s campaign. Obviously he has a lot to do as acting president of sorts, and acting vice president of sorts and of course prime minister, which could make him an extremely busy person despite having no campaigns to do. He came back to the news with a directive that maize be sold across borders, which sounded a bit surprising as such permission was given a few months ago after a tirade of attacks from foreign experts. Experts from various countries in the southern and eastern Africa region gathered at a conference after the World Economic Forum in May wondered how it is possible grain is restricted in how it can be sold. The gov-

ernment is always careful on what it says on these restrictions or controlled permits to sell grain, usually referring to the need to prevent peasants selling their entire ‘food’ stock for cash, showing a keen anti-mdoernization trend of scoffing at cash and prizing family level food self-sufficiency. The core logic is of course sanctity of African culture, but realism lurks here as well, the fear of rising urban food prices. It is the latter fear that has always anchored agricultural sector policy, a preliminary element of it being in refusing private ownership of land partly so as to prevent the rise of landlessness in future. This fear is then translated into worries about rising urban food prices, and in that case controlling rural grain trade becomes the solution, thus complementing the impoverishment effect of refusal of private ownership of land with auxilliary impoverishment of failure to access optimal markets or prices. The result is cracks in the social edifice as farm work is unrewarding, and lack of rural sector de-

mand for goods warps industry. Electoral periods have usually been a moment when some sort of sobriety is noticed in agricultural trade policy, for instance in allowing free movement of grain even across borders, a few months before voting. The rate at which the curtain is drawn after that episode varies, but in 2003 it seems to have been less a feature of electoral preparation than a rethinking of economic policy, as polls were still quite far from the scene. However there was an element of the personal handiwork of then prime minister Frederick Sumaye, who may have surmised that boosting the sector would give him popularity for a top office bid. Impressions that the permit given for the free movement of grain across borders was a personal policy shift acquiesced to by the president rather than a policy shift endorsed at cabinet level was evident in the fact that the new team, taking office early 2006, removed the permit. It is predictable that

at certain levels for instance in ministerial advisory quarters, the whole idea of free movement of grain looked like it was a result of influence of ‘fisadis,’ as it put in peril urban food price stability. Virtually nothing else counts in this sphere of policy making, in tandem with trade union concerns, inflation data, IMF criteria… Despite that state authorities are on high alert with regard to each single spasm of food price increase in urban areas, long simmering discontent with farm sector prices finally makes itself felt, for instance during campaigns for the October 31 general elections. That could explain the latest initiative but its ability to reward the current authorities is limited – with however a windfall prospect as only recently a demonstration was held in Songea over lack of ability of government to purchase large grain harvest surpluses. Initial reaction talk of raising grain reserve budgeting to 100bn/- next year is scant poll effect. Further tremors were being re-

ported in the same regional centre that constitutes the centre of strong maize production and route to overland sales to Malawi and Zambia along with Mbeya and Rukwa regions, as well as Iringa. There were demonstrations against regional officials apparently as the CCM presidential candidate finished a campaign tour and drove to the airport, in which case there was strong reason for the government to make a move to ease the situation. That is why chances of backtracking on the issue are quite high; government is unprepared for maize free markets, only grain protectionism. What goes unnoticed is a tricky macroeconomic dimension that a quasi-Industrial Revolution situation has emerged in most parts of Africa, where ‘liberty, fraternity and equality’ is being echoed but under totally different ideological placards: the ‘fight against corruption.’ What peasants need are free markets but as the government is responsible for urban working classes for low grain prices, that would spell disaster – so the situation is artificially contained as polls are being awaited to bring about ‘good leaders’ who shall cut inflation by better government expenditure. When it fails, they will free up the land at last. In contrast to the 2003 period when electoral chances of the prime minister seemed to hinge on being a saviour of peasants via freeing markets – the only problem being that he didn’t do that as a newcomer but as a shift in policy, which has less impact – no one gains by the current move. Only a more relaxed atmosphere is needed as CCM prepared for the final thrust before voting was to begin, and popularity of such a move gives breathing space before curbs are brought back. This position is unavoidable despite that common market structures and customs union logic is free movement, but each state has its curbs. So far nothing has been decided about signing a reciprocal tradepact with the European Union but it is likely that elements in the pact could rapidly change the situation for local peasants. When agreement is reached about freeing up trade in milk, butter, grain, animal feed and anything else, that could not just be put on hold by the government, unlike agreements reached under EA common market protocols. In that case peasant liberty to sell grain to whatever buyer is available without restrictions will only be realized as an auxiliary product to superior engagement, with the European Union. Nothing on the local scene would have made peasants capable of ‘fighting out’ to obtain those rights; just a cycle of civil war. There will be a free market of grain and other goods not because the government shall have willed it out of policy dialogue but from failure to hold back different pressures, where engaging with the European Union is the final nail in the pro-urban consumers grain policy. If a re-equilibration starts on the basis of higher grain prices touching off a strong wave of wage demands, government ability to cling to its dear parastatals will collapse or be imperiled more rapidly, but just how positively these policy imbalances are corrected or remain part of structural instability is unclear. However, when the European Union has been engaged fruitfully, rights on land transfer and long term occupancy will definitely be cleared also.

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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

FOOD SECURITY

Big hope for small grains

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he UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a project in Zimbabwe recently to promote the use of small grains such as millet and sorghum to boost food security in three drought-prone provinces Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Masvingo. Small grains are considered drought tolerant and have better nutritional value than maize, which is viewed as an unsuitable crop in these provinces. The USD399,000 project Promoting Production, Processing and Marketing of Small Grains in the A UN initiative will push countries to design nutrition policies based on new studies that show good quality food for mothers and children in the first 1,000 days, including pregnancy, would not only save millions of lives but raise literacy and economic growth rates. The initiative - designed with input from UN agencies, NGOs, academics and think-tanks - known by its acronym SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) and led by David Nabarro, head of the UN High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, is only likely to come together in 2011. But already questions are being raised about the lack of consultation, and time and resources needed to see it through. In 2009 the World Bank calculated it would cost at least USD12 billion a year to implement nutrition-specific interventions, including an investment in agriculture in the 36 countries which account for 90 percent of the global under-nutrition statistics. That amount of funding is not available at present, so SUN will look to public-pri-

Small grains preferred

Marginal Areas in Zimbabwe - which envisages the provision of improved seed varieties, will target small farmers, and aims to be up and running by the rainy season starting in the next few weeks. It will provide small grain inputs sufficient for the cultivation of half a hectare, and this will also enable farmers to produce seeds for the next planting season. Gaoju Han, FAO's sub-regional director for Southern Africa and Zimbabwe's country representative, said: "The project will also build the capacity of community based smallholder seed producers so as to ensure sustainable availability of high quality small

grains seed." Ministry of Agriculture extension workers will provide assistance and training on the production of small grains, and inform communal farmers of their benefits.

Challenges Han said production of small grains over the years had faced several obstacles, including the limited access to seed, poor prices, low yields and the huge flocks of voracious red-billed quelea birds. "These challenges have contributed towards the reduction in the area allocated to small grains on the one hand, and an expansion of the

maize area on the other. FAO’s aim is to assist the Ministry of Agriculture to address these and other challenges that have limited the production of small grains by smallholder farmers," he said. "What is now required is for the key players to exploit the unique attributes of small grains such as drought tolerance and their better nutritional value compared to other cereal crops," Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Ngoni Masoka told IRIN. Food security expert and the former Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Davidson Mugabe said the launch was welcome and if

Race is on to implement nutrition initiative

vate-civil society partnerships. At least 29 countries still have levels of hunger that are “extremely alarming”, according to the 2010 Global Hunger Index (GHI) produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). These include countries such as Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea. SUN spells out a two-pronged approach to reduce nutrition – directly by providing good quality food and indirectly by ensuring there are nutrition-related programmes in all government sectors, such as agriculture, education and social welfare. It focuses on overhauling nutrition strategies and implementing low-cost nutrition interventions such as eating well-balanced meals fortified by mi-

cronutrients, and breastfeeding until a child is two years old. Studies published in The Lancet in 2008 showed that these interventions not only reduce infant and maternal mortality but boost economic growth in developing countries. However, time is a concern. Purnima Menon, a research fellow with IFPRI, cited India as an example where building consensus around the focus on children’s first 1,000 days and related interventions as recommended by the 2008 Lancet studies took a year. India has 42 percent of the world’s underweight children, according to the GHI. “There are now state-level nutrition strategies that incorporate the focus on under-twos and the interventions… but are not operationalized

yet,” Menon said. “Getting country buy-in is still only the first step at the country level. Work on SUN has helped bring the global community together on this issue but the real implementation challenges lie in districts, towns and villages in the different countries, where the core interventions must be implemented.” In the past weeks, Nabarro has been meeting country representatives and experts in the nutrition sector. But, said Mamady Daffe, head of the nutrition unit at the Guinea Health Ministry: “They’ll never find the real solutions there because they didn’t ask the specialists who are on the ground.” The initiative is “not a bad thing”, Daffe said, but “…if such things are not based on the realities on the

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properly conducted, would go a long way towards ensuring food security. "We need as a country to come up with policies that ensure that we grow crops which are suitable to the different regions, and the three provinces for the programme are ideal for small grains because they record low annual rainfall," he said. Zimbabwe's rapid decline from food security has been blamed on a combination of events - including droughts and the disruption of agriculture in 2000, when President Robert Mugabe launched the fast-track land reform programme, which redistributed more than 4,000 white commercial farms to landless blacks. In the first quarter of 2009 about seven million people - more than half the population - depended on food assistance. The government estimates about 1.3 million people will require food assistance in the first quarter of 2011.

Marketing Davidson Mugabe said it was also important to popularize the consumption of small grains and there was a "need for innovation when processing food from small grains. Only recently I ate a cake made from millet." Dumisani Nyoni, the provincial agricultural officer for Matabeleland North, told IRIN farmers’ yields in the province had in recent years been declining. "The farmers would save some [small] grain [seed] from their harvest which they continued to use as seed and over the years yields had gone down. When we introduce new seed varieties to the farmers, their produce will be higher. One challenge though that needs to be tackled urgently will be the threat posed by quelea birds which are a problem in the province. The department of national parks [needs] to be capacitated in order to eliminate that menace." Quelea birds, which roam in flocks that can grow to millions, prefer the seeds of wild grasses to those of cultivated crops, but their numbers make them a constant threat to fields of sorghum, wheat, barley, millet and rice. Irin ground they will always fail”. Some countries, such as Ghana and Malawi, are already designing their nutrition policies based on The Lancet findings the “window of opportunity” in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. A nutrition programme in agriculture could help farmers diversify their crops and grow vegetables and fruit, besides starch-rich staples such as maize and wheat, which would make sure people have access to a wide variety of nutrients. The initiative does not provide details of interventions, but says it will depend on new evidence-based studies and encourages countries to develop and design their own policies. SUN says the implementation of low-cost interventions can save the lives of a million children every year and increase the economic wealth of poor countries by 2-3 percent. Getting the nutrition right will not only help achieve the Millennium Development Goal to halve hunger and poverty, but other targets on education, gender equality, and child and maternal mortality. Irin


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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

CLIMATE CHANGE

pcoming international climate talks will be "a total flop", according to Africa's leading spokesperson on climate change. Neither this year's talks in Cancun, Mexico, nor the ones in South Africa next year, will deliver a deal with set targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, said Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia and coordinator of the Committee of Ten African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change. His statements have provoked anger from some critics who see them as undermining the African Union's stance on climate change. As a spokesperson for the African Union, Zenawi's comments were in bad taste and will further entrench those in the West who oppose a legally binding climate change deal, Dorothy Amwata, a researcher at South Eastern University College, Kenya, told SciDev.Net. "If there are no chances of success in Cancun and South Africa then what is the point of holding consultative forums in Africa spending public and donor money?" said Amwata, who helped develop the Comprehensive Climate Change Programme for the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). "It is strange that [Zenawi] is the one leading the process yet he is so negative." Zenawi was speaking recently at the High Level Dialogue on Governance and Leadership Response to Climate Change at the Seventh African Development Forum (12–15 October), where he also said that developed countries were not taking the search for a global climate change deal seriously. The 15th session of the UN's Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen last year disappointed many who expected a legally binding document to be agreed that would curb further greenhouse gas emissions and succeed the Kyoto Protocol. The Copenhagen Climate Accord, which emerged instead, was an unbinding "statement of intent", and offered some hope for building clean-energy economies and helping the most vulnerable nations adapt to the effects of climate change but left many questions unanswered. Delegates from around the world will continue working towards a global climate deal at this year's COP 16 meeting in Cancun, and next year's COP 17 in South Africa. Zenawi blamed the lack of a binding agreement on the "uneducated" public in the developed world who make it "uncomfortable" for their leaders to make the "right and courageous decisions on global warming". But Jato Sillah, Gambia's minister for Forestry and the Environment, told SciDev.Net that Africa was also to blame for the lack of a climate deal.

African climate: Leader says Cancun talks 'will flop' "When we go to negotiations we have a common stand but when it comes to the floor different positions emerge," he said. Africa must rise up to this "global

leadership deficiency" and show leadership, Zenawi said. Calls for Africa to speak as one at the COP 16 in Cancun were heard throughout the meeting, coming from

Jean Ping, chairman of the Commission of the African Union; former president of Botswana Festus Mogae; and Ethiopian president Girma Wolde-Giorgis, who officially

This is agroforestry which is a way to counter the effects of climate change.

opened the forum. "For Africa to be heard and taken seriously, it is no longer just enough to speak as one — we need to be ready to put our own contributions on the table, in terms of financing and concrete ideas," said Zenawi. Amwata said that Zenawi and other African leaders should clearly state alternatives they have for climate mitigation and adaptation for the poor and vulnerable affected by the phenomenon in Africa.

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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

FOOD SECURITY

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s rural Africa experiences an increasingly moody climate which will erode resilience, drive up hunger and threaten economic growth, it is time countries got serious about development, participants at the seventh African Development Forum in Addis Ababa were told. Africa’s Rural Futures (RF) programme, an initiative of the African Union’s New Partnership for Development (NEPAD) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), sets out plans to boost rural development, and is an attempt to adapt to the impact of climate change. At the same time, organizations such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank are backing the UN’s Green Economy Initiative, which is more focused on mitigation. In his address, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD’s chief executive officer, called RF a “new way of thinking about development”. But is it new? At a policy level, Lindiwe Sibanda, head of the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, a think-tank, explained: “Well, what they are talking about is integrated rural development with agriculture as the driver. It will get all the ministries to look at their sectors with a rural lens. It moves beyond the sectoral approach.” This would do agriculture in Africa some good, she hoped. “Development of agriculture has suffered because of the sectoral approach.” Departments of transport, infrastructure and agriculture have not worked in consort in many countries, affecting food production and supply. In a bid to revive their failing rural economies, some developed countries have been running RF programmes for some years. WWF, which has been involved in some of these programmes, had been looking at an initiative to improve rural livelihoods with a link to improving biodiversity in Africa, when they found NEPAD. Urbanization The RF programme is guided by the fact that 60 percent of the population in Africa is rural, though UN projections indicate that the number of urban dwellers is likely to treble over the next four decades. “Urbanization is a part of the nat-

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Farming needs to make money to drive growth ural evolution of a society, but what conditions will these new urban dwellers live in - slums?” asked Estherine Lesinge-Fotabong, NEPAD’s programme implantation head. By providing new impetus to agriculture, the RF programme also hopes to create jobs, absorb the growing population, and tackle food security and gender empowerment. Most subsistence farmers in Africa are women. Fine-tuning RF was launched at the Forum, but is still being fine-tuned and is currently at a “strategic document stage”. It envisages a two-year period of consultation with countries and civil society across Africa. RF talks about developing linkages between local and regional markets, but stops short of any connections to industry. “That is its shortcoming, but the programme is still evolving,” said Mersie Ejigu, head of the Partnership for African Environmental Sustainability, an international NGO. Ejigu, a development economist and former minister of development and planning in the Ethiopian cabinet, added: “I am not saying we need to

have big investments in massive agrobased industries. It could be smallscale, home-based industries but when you are looking beyond agriculture and adding value, you have to look at processing the primary product.”

African countries need to bring their own money to the table - then only will they be able to decide what development path or programmes they want to implemen

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Donor-dependent But money, and especially donors, decide the future of any programme in Africa, said Mamadou Cissokho, honorary president of the Network of West African Farmer and Producer Organizations. “African countries need to bring their own money to the table then only will they be able to decide what development path or programmes they want to implement.” This concern was also voiced by WWF’s Gabriella Richardson-Temm: “We are happy with the way this is shaping up and that Africa wants to design their own programme - but then donors, who bring in the funds, come with their own sets of conditions.” RF could also be one of the components of the UN’s Green Economy Initiative, which is assisting governments to “green” their economies by reshaping policies to ensure growth on the basis of non-fossil fuel-based energy, backed by sustainable agriculture

(with the help of investments in clean technology and public transport that runs on renewable energy). It also focuses on greening other sectors such as waste management and water services. “You don’t want us to grow,” said a participant when UNEP’s Achim Steiner spelt out the initiative. Coal is still the cheapest source of energy in developing countries. Another said: “But Africa is already green - most of our people use biomass to produce energy.” But you need money to access these alternative green technologies, pointed out Moussa Ould Hwedna, a technical adviser to Mauritania’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation. “Ours is a dry country and we need solar power to pump water from underground and the cost of solar energy is prohibitive.” “We would like to adopt these technologies but developed countries should look at making it cheaper for us,” he added. This is one of the issues at the UN climate change talks, the next round of which will take place in Mexico later this year. Irin


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MECHANISATION

Finally United States allows Sudan to get farming equipment

he United States has relaxed sanctions on Sudan to exempt farm equipment, a move seen as part of a wider scheme of carrots and sticks before a sensitive referendum that could split Africa's largest country. Sudan, under US economic sanctions since 1997, welcomed the US move saying it could help develop an agricultural sector on which 80 percent of the population depends for livelihoods. Sudan aims to expand agriculture and will host a food security conference of 57 Islamic countries next week. "Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the commercial exportation or re-exportation of US- origin agricultural equipment and services to ... Sudan," the US Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement issued on its web site on Wednesday last week. "The purpose of this new licensing policy is to benefit the Sudanese people by enhancing local food production and strengthening the agricultural sector," it added. A peace process that ended decades of civil war and devastated Sudan's economy will wind up on January 9 when a referendum on secession by the south will be held, something many expect will create the

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

world's newest country. Most of Sudan's 470,000 barrels per day of oil, the mainstay of its economy, lies south of the north-south boundary although the infrastructure is in the north. Khartoum's government has been boosting non-oil revenues ahead of the south Sudan vote. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the international community must sweeten the divorce for Khartoum to prevent antagonism that could push the two sides back to war. Senior Agriculture Ministry official Abdel Latif Ijaimi said that the US gesture would open the door to new agricultural technologies and equipment which would make Sudan more competitive edge in global markets. "We welcome this and it is part of a move to open more cooperation and will allow us to enter (global) markets and improve in terms of quality and prices," Ijaimi said.

Wheat expansion needs nvestment Sudan's state minister for agriculture, Mohamed Ali Alloubi, said wheat production was expected to rise this year to 560,000 tons of wheat, about 42 percent of the country's consumption of more than 2 million tons. Last year Sudan produced just 16 percent of its total need. "Two years from now, we can stop wheat imports and begin exports," Alloubi told Reuters. "We are expecting after two years to be producing more than 3 million tons of wheat with large-scale projects," he said, planned in the Northern, River Nile and Gezira states. "This will depend on investment from the private sector from Sudanese and foreign companies," he said, giving no figures. Sudan shares a northern border with Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer. The ministry's Ijaimi said Saudi Arabia, phasing out wheat production by 2016 because of water shortages, was considering Sudan as a future source of wheat. Sudan also hopes the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting on food security in Khartoum next week will foster investment in its farm sector. "We have 48 million feddans (19.3 million hectares or 47.7 million acres) of arable land and only 15-17 percent is used," said Alloubi, adding Sudan also enjoyed a large share of Nile water. The Blue Nile and White Nile converge in Khartoum to flow north to Egypt.

Tuesday 26 October, 2010

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Tuesday 26 October, 2010

WHAT OTHERS DO

Traditional practices increase yield by 128 per cent in east Africa, says UN

RGANIC farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations presented last week. New evidence suggests that organic practices – derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad – are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. The head of the UN's Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said the report "indicates that the potential contribution of organic farming to feeding the world maybe far higher than many had supposed". The "green revolution" in agriculture in the 1960s – when the production of food caught and surpassed the needs of the global population for the first time – largely bypassed Africa. Whereas each person today has 25 per cent more food on average than they did in 1960, in Africa they have 10 per cent less. A combination of increasing population, decreasing rainfall and soil fertility and a surge in food prices has left Africa uniquely vulnerable to famine. Climate change is expected to make a bad situation worse by increasing the frequency of droughts and floods. It has been conventional wisdom among African governments that modern, mechanised agriculture was needed to close the gap but efforts in this direction have had little impact on food poverty and done nothing to create a sustainable approach. Now, the global food crisis has led to renewed calls for a massive modernisation of agriculture on the hungriest continent on the planet, with calls to push ahead with genetically modified crops and large industrial farms to avoid potentially disastrous starvation.

Organic farming 'could feed Africa' Last month the UK's former chief scientist Sir David King said anti-scientific attitudes among Western NGOs and the UN were responsible for holding back a much-needed green revolution in Africa. "The problem is that the Western world's move toward organic farming – a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food – and against agricultural technology in general and GM (genetic modification) in particular, has been adopted across the whole of Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences," he said. The research conducted by the UN Environment Programme suggests that organic, small-scale farming can deliver the increased yields which were thought to be the preserve of industrial farming, without the environmental and social damage which that form of agriculture brings with it. An analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries found that yields had more than doubled where organic, or

near-organic practices had been used. That increase in yield jumped to 128 per cent in East Africa. "Organic farming can often lead to polarised views," said Mr Steiner, a former economist. "With some viewing it as a saviour and others as a niche product or something of a luxury... this report suggests it could make a serious contribution to tackling poverty and food insecurity." The study found that organic practices outperformed traditional methods and chemical-intensive conventional farming. It also found strong environmental benefits such as improved soil fertility, better retention of water and resistance to drought. And the research highlighted the role that learning organic practices could have in improving local education. Backers of GM foods insist that a technological fix is needed to feed the world. But this form of agriculture requires cash to buy the patented seeds and herbicides – both at record high prices currently – need-

ed to grow GM crops. Regional farming experts have long called for "good farming", rather than exclusively GM or organic. Better seeds, crop rotation, irrigation and access to markets all help farmers. Organic certification in countries such as the UK and Australia still presents an insurmountable barrier to most African exporters, the report points out. It calls for greater access to markets so farmers can get the best prices for their products. Kenyan farmer: 'I wanted to see how UK did it' Henry Murage had to travel a long way to solve problems trying to farm a smallholding on the western slopes of Mount Kenya. He spent five months in the UK, studying with the experts at Garden Organic a charity in the Midlands. "I wanted to see how it was being done in the UK and was convinced we could do some of the same things here," he says. On his return 10 years ago, he set up the Mt Kenya Organic Farm, aimed at aiding other small farmers fighting the semi-arid conditions. He believes organic soil management can help retain moisture and protect against crop failure. The true test came during the devastating drought of 2000-02, when Mr Murage's vegetable gardens fared better than his neighbours'. At least 300 farmers have visited his gardens and taken up at least one of the practices he espouses. "Organic can feed the people in rural areas," he says. "It's sustainable and what we produce now we can go on producing." Saving money on fertilisers and pesticides helps farmers afford better seeds, and composting and crop rotation are improving the soil. Traditional maize, beans and livestock farming in the area have been supplemented with new crops from borage seeds to cayenne peppers and honey, with buyers from the US to Europe. Now he is growing camomile for herbal tea, with buyers from the UK and Germany both interested. THE INDEPENDENT

GM maize trials to begin in East Africa WEMA-Kenya country coordinator, said in a statement. Scientists conducted mock trials in simulated conditions in Kenya and Tanzania in 2009. The transgenic maize will now be planted in 1-2 hectare confined fields in Kenya and Uganda, which have already given regulatory approval. The world's poorest continent, where agriculture contributes up to a quarter of GDP in some countries and is an important source of foreign exchange, is increasingly turning to genetically modified crops to bolster food supplies. But critics and consumers, mostly in Africa and Europe, have questioned the safety of GM foods and have banned their import or cultivation due to fears they could harm humans and wildlife. If the maize is approved, it will be licensed to AATF, which is fund-

Everything we have seen in the simulated trials shows that we can safely test transgenic maize varieties...

CONFINED field trials of genetically modified maize will begin in Kenya and Uganda this year, the U.S.based non-profit African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) said. Scientists from Kenyan and Ugandan government research bodies, Monsanto and research body International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) developed the 12 varieties of Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) due to be planted. Maize is the most widely grown staple food in Africa and is badly affected by drought. The scientists aim for the drought-resistant GM maize to increase yields by 24 to 35 percent. "Everything we have seen in the simulated trials shows that we can safely test transgenic maize varieties in carefully controlled and confined field trials in Africa," James Gethi, the

ed by the United States and British governments. "The expected WEMA transgenic drought-tolerant maize seed will be sub-licensed to local seed companies royalty-free for a term or duration to be determined based on future product deployment agreements," AATF Communications Officer Grace Wachoro said in a statement. "The confined field trials will enable the project to address safety issues." AATF said the resulting trial maize crop will be destroyed in accordance with Kenyan and Ugandan research regulations. Trials are also planned for South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania. More than 30 countries, including all of the European Union, have restricted or banned the production of GM crops because they are not considered proven safe. REUTERS

Mauritius planters turn their backs on sugar cane

SUGAR, a centuries-old pillar of the $10 billion economy of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, accounts for roughly 3 percent of gross domestic product and is a major employer. "The sugar industry can coexist with property development and energy production but land abandonment by small planters represents a threat to the industry," said Cyril Mayer, CEO of Harel Frere, a sugar manufacturer and property developer. Mayer said unless the price of sugar per tonne rose to 15,000 Mauritius rupees ($502) from 12,700 rupees currently, small planters will continue to leave sugar cane cultivation. The Chamber of Agriculture said in June Mauritius sugar output will fall to 450,000 tonnes this year from 467,234 tonnes in 2009 largely due to a reduced area under cultivation. The country has been losing about 2,200 hectares of sugar cane fields annually. In 2009, it lost 1,900 hectares and the forecast is maintained for this year. Sugar producers have been hit hard after the European Union cut its guaranteed price for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar by 36 percent. The final tranche took effect last October. "I am confident that we will achieve rapidly the 15,000 rupees per tonne of sugar. We should continue to implement the sugar sector reform programme and also keep on cutting cost," said Jacques d'Unienville, CEO of Omnicane, a leading producer. He said a Bank of Mauritius decision to slash the key interest by 1 percentage point will also help the industry by containing the appreciation of the rupee against the euro. Large-scale producers are diversifying their revenue by producing electricity and ethanol and have shed human labour for machines. But small-scale farmers have found it harder to cope. Omnicane said it will produce between 175,000 and 180,000 tonnes of refined sugar in 2011 up from 100 000 tonnes this year as it refinery reached cruising speed. D'Uniemville said Omnicane also sees big potential in ethanol production. "Last year Mauritius exported 100,000 tonnes of molasses. I think we could use some 80,000 tonnes of it to produce 20 million litres of ethanol. "Mauritius imports around 125,000 litres of gasoline per year. REUTERS


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