By Emmanuel Onyango
Tanzania government and European Union (EU) have jointly inaugurated three agricultural projects which support the cultivation of rice crops in the country.
The EU has financed a total of Euros 4.5 million (Tshs. 12 million) to ensure effective implementation of the projects.
The inauguration ceremony which was held today and graced by the Deputy Minister for Agriculture Mary Mwanjelwa was also attended by three project representatives assigned to supervise the projects to be conducted within three years’ time in two regions of Iringa and Morogoro respectively.
The representatives are Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) country office, the Aga Khan Foundation and Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation.
The financing processes of the projects done through Agricultural Component of the EU support to the Southern Agriculture Corridor Initiative of Tanzania (SAGCOT).
SAGCOT initiative is a public-private partnership dedicated in ensuring food security, reduce poverty and spur economic development in Tanzania’s southern development corridor.
The three Projects to last within three years’ timeframe specifically aim at increasing competitiveness and improving the post-harvest value chain of small holder rice farmers in the Morogoro and Iringa regions respectively.
Speaking during the launch, Ambassador Roeland Van Geer said that, “the three rice projects will address some of the challenges faced by the rice sector in particular those associated with post-harvest losses and value chain weaknesses”.
On her part, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mary Mwanjelwa appreciated the fact that EU has selected agriculture as one of the focal sectors that supports the National Indicative Program (NIP 2014-2020).
She said that, the initiative will also implement the efforts in the agricultural sector in the country and that the support provided is in line with the agriculture sector development program (ASDP) II.
Highlighting the initiatives to be undertaken by the project representatives, the Minister noted that, one of the projects will be implemented in Iringa district and this will be supervised by FAO representatives in the country in collaboration with her ministry and Rural Urban Initiatives (RUDI).
This project is titled, “Improve competitiveness and increase post-harvest management capacity of smallholder farmers in the rice value chain.
The second one is Rice Post-Harvest Management (RIPOMA) which is being implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Inter-Cooperation in Morogoro in region in Kilosa and Mvumero districts respectively.
This project aims at empowering small holder women and youth farmers ion Rice post-harvest management and marketing through capacity building inj good agricultural practices, market systems, financial services and investment in post-harvest infrastructures.
The third project is titled, “Enhancing Competitiveness of small holder Rice farmers in Morogoiro which is jointly implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and Rice council of Tanzania and will reach up to 5,000 smallholder farmers particularly women and youth in Kilombero, Malinyi and Ulanga districts respectively.