By Juma Bruno Ngomuo, SITA National Coordinator, United Republic of Tanzania
Linking agricultural producers, especially smallholder farmers to reliable buyers and new markets requires a well-coordinated approach amongst sector players. Sector-focused trade and investment support institutions (TISIs) can provide this mechanism for cooperation, a collective voice and sector monitoring and development. Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) aims to strengthen TISIs in East Africa to build local capacities and ensure sustainability of sector growth.
In Tanzania, SITA provides advisory services to the Tanzania Pulses Network so they can better support their members. The Tanzania Pulses Network (TPN) was established by SITA in partnership with the Eastern African Grain Council to coordinate the implementation of the Tanzanian government’s strategy for the development of the pulses value chain. Its membership includes key stakeholders along the pulses value chain including representation from a number of intra-sector associations.
The Tanzania Graduate Farmers Association (TGFA) is a member of the TPN and has benefited from advisory services, training and learning opportunities provided by TPN and SITA; including online learning through the International Trade Centre’s SME Trade Academy.
Established in 2000 and registered in August 2002, TGFA represents young farmers and agricultural professionals in pulses production. Recently TGFA hosted a learning forum in Morogoro, Tanzania to share experience and achievements in delivering tangible services to its members and clients. During the Forum, TGFA highlighted the support they received from SITA which had enabled them to improve their business and consultancy services to meet the sector demands and challenges.
Speaking during the panel discussion titled “Delivering competitive services and value-added agricultural extension services to organised agricultural practitioners,” Mr. Frank Mdegela, Coordinator, TGFA commented, “through SITA, we have been able to work closely with lead sector associations and research institutes in India. This has given our members and clients access to inputs including seeds and fertiliser, technology, knowledge of best practices as well as market information, especially with regard to pigeon peas, chickpeas and green gram (mung).”
Mr. Stephano Kingazi, Chairperson, TGFA added, “SITA’s capacity building training has enabled us to improve our management processes, become more innovative and develop new in-demand services for our members.”
TGFA has now begun using different approaches to service provision and increasing the number of services it offers. Their membership size has grown since pulses stakeholders now see substantial benefit in having access to the range of advisory services and the cheaper agronomic inputs that collective buying power brings. In 2016, TGFA signed Memoranda of Understanding with agricultural research institutes including Selian Agricultural Research Institute and ILONGA Agricultural Research Institute and a number of local companies to collectively purchase improved high quality seed varieties.
TGFA offers private extension services such as training on agricultural best practices including in seed selection, production, farm management, and post-harvest management. TGFA has also been working with SITA and EAGC to organize business-to-business meetings in Morogoro, Mtwara, Dodoma and Singida to link member producers with reliable buyers. TGFA also supports the value chain as administrators of six WhatsApp Group and social media platforms promoting pulses business opportunities domestically and internationally.
“In one and a half years we have seen our membership grow from 3560 to 4200. This growth is the direct result of strengthening our private extension services, Dr. Charles Wilson, a board member of TGFA commented.
According to Dr. Wilson, to bring even greater benefit to members, TGFA is now seeking long-term partnerships with Indian institutions for technology and knowledge transfer especially in the areas of research and development, ICT for agriculture, cooperative management, market intelligence and SME competitiveness. Given India’s role as a world leader in the production and export of pulses, there is no better place to look.