Farmers in Tanzania are experiencing difficulties in accessing and applying agro- inputs. These are vital ingredients in crop production. A recent study carried out by Match Maker Associates Ltd and commissioned by the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) has revealed that in order to boost agricultural production and make it viable, more effort is needed in the accessibility, distribution, and application of agro-inputs. This will facilitate small-holder farmers to modernise and commercialise their farming.
A Senior Consultant from Match Maker Associates Ltd, Mr. Edmond Ringo stated that the objective of the study was to assess the challenges associated with access, distribution, and application of inputs (specifically, fertilizers, seeds and agrochemicals). Six commodities were covered by this study, namely maize, paddy, coffee, cashew, tomatoes, and livestock.
“Relevant data was collected from nine districts in seven regions: Morogoro (Mvomero and Kilosa), Iringa (Kilolo and Iringa rural), Mtwara (Mtwara rural), Kilimanjaro (Moshi Rural), and Arusha (Arumeru and Karatu), said, Mr. Ringo.” He continued, “ This exercise was also conducted in Dar es Salaam City by interviewing a good number of stakeholders to complement what was collected from upcountry ”.
Mr. Ringo noted that farmers in rural areas face problems not only in accessing agro-inputs but also in their affordability and scientific application to bring about the expected results. The consultant went on to say that the use of these inputs is also influenced by many factors such as infrastructures, crop subsidies, and the marketing system. Agro-dealers and distributors play an important role in the value chain. These are people whose responsibility it is to ensure timely delivery of all inputs that farmers need.
“As regards to livestock, very few animal keepers are aware of the fact that the subsidy scheme also covers livestock”. Remarked Mr. Ringo. He said it is pertinent to educate livestock keepers about the voucher system, with a view to capitalising on this scheme to improve the quantity and quality of animal products.
The study has revealed the fact that the state of rural infrastructure has a direct influence on crop productivity and profitability. Farmers need all- weather roads, reliable bridges, good storage structures, and market centres with necessary amenities. These factors contribute to creating a conducive business environment.
Furthermore, research results show that the National Agriculture Input Voucher System (NAIVAS) has increased the number of agro-dealers and availability of inputs. “Unfortunately, some dealers are colluding with local officials to jeopardise the system by turning it into personal gains. This has created a negative image of this scheme. This is corruption, fighting corruption, which is not an easy task because it is very difficult to pin down its perpetrators.” The consultant asserted.
|Farmers who are able to access agro- inputs and use it, the returns are always encouraging. This is a flourishing maize crop.|
There is very limited use of farm chemicals on maize crops in Iringa, Karatu and Kilosa districts. The report has revealed.
Mr. Mshana Mwikari from the Agricultural Research Institute, Naliendele, Mtwara said, “There are many unfaithful agro- distributors who are bent on taking cash on counterfeit products. This is a booming business”.
As a remedy, he urged the government to examine the accreditation process of agro-dealers, looking at their financial capacities and technical know-how. Furthermore, he said farmers should be educated on how to identify counterfeit products. This can be achieved by a concerted effort from the public and private actors.
Mr. Hebron Mwakalinga, an Associate Consultant from Match Maker Associates Ltd stated, “Crop production is also impaired by low application rate of agricultural inputs and poor agronomic practices.” He went further to point out that, “Farmers who grow high-value crops with reliable market outlets, e.g. vegetables, can afford to use industrial fertilisers and pesticides because the profit margin is big.”
The Tanzania Farmers’ Association (TFA) Division Manager, Gibson Kisamba said, “Due to a lack of a common approach and instruments to promote availability and usage of genuine inputs, the entire value chain faces myriads of challenges. These challenges include curbing counterfeit inputs.” He advised the authority to review the rules and regulations that govern agro-inputs with a view to containing wrong doers. Improved safety regulations will impact on transportation and storage as well as on handling of agricultural inputs,” Mr. Kisamba intimated.
Mr. Ringo further stated, “The report recommends the application of a smart subsidy, and improving governance and transparency in its implementation like what is happening in Malawi. Malawi fosters transparency along the value chain. All stakeholders are involved in the process, and give their maximum support”.
Another recommendation given by the Consultants was to improve infrastructures to facilitate transporting and handling of inputs since this will bring down the operational costs. They also urged relevant institutions to ensure agro-dealers and distributors access working capital through bank credit.
ACT Executive Director, Janet Bitegeko has called upon agriculture stakeholders to put in place a mechanism for smooth delivery of farm inputs and their prudent utilisation. “This will facilitate the transformation of Tanzania’s agriculture. This will ensure food security for every family. The surplus will find its way to the internal and external markets. This is the only way we can survive and thrive.” She stated emphatically.