SEVEN years back, an agriculture reporter asked Mr Albert Kinyunyu, a soya smallholder farmer in Iringa, what he knew about United States of America. The answer was short: “Clinton. He was president of that country, a good man. His organisation (the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI]) helps us grow soya. Soya farming has many problems. He tries hard to solve them. He is a great man. CDI is a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation”.
That was in 2013. Mr Kinyunyu’s answer made no reference to the country that the great man comes from. His interest was about the man and his organisation who care in earnest about their lives; the lives of the poor and desperate soya growers. Ordinary people speak their mind in a very innocent way.
They leave pleasantries (call that word insincerity if you like) to diplomats. In that year, people with interest in soya production will also remember, an Anchor Farm project was launched in Iringa Region.
The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) said that the project was engineered by what it described as a Soya Partnership. The bulwark of that partnership was the CDI.
The partnership brought together SeedCo, Silverlands, TOSCI, TARI-Uyole, IITA, TRA and MAFC. In a statement on the launch, Sagcot said the farm was a commercial farm partnering with thousands of neighbouring smallholder farmers to provide them with access to improved soya seeds and gain access to quality inputs for maize and soya production, as well as training and market access. Farmers involved in the partnership gain access to improved soya seed, alongside training in advanced agronomic technique.
They also have access to a domestic bulk buyer for their soya. At that time the partnership was working with 3,600 smallholder farmers in Iringa, improving their social welfare. There are 40 demonstration plots set up across villages to provide continuous training programmes to smallholders on agricultural best practice.
The number of plots is expected to reach 60 in the near future, to further increase the capacity building elements of the programme. Storage problems, difficulties in accessing market and physical infrastructure remained despite the efforts of the partnership.
Half a decade or so later, Sagcot reported that there have been delays in the uptake of soya production, with farmers sometimes reluctant to grow the crop due to lack of seed and market linkages. Soya can also be relatively unprofitable in the first year, meaning that smallholders need access to affordable financing.
The situation did not change sharply until this year. To vindicate Mr Kinyunyu, on Wednesday, the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) announced that it had partnered with the CDI to provide 500,000 US dollars (1.15bn/-) to 29 primary agricultural marketing cooperatives (AMCOs) to enhance their financial accessibility.
The partnership is contained in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Iringa town on July 21, 2021 between the two institutions. That move, the statement says, will allow the agri-bank to disburse the money to the AMCOs in order to unlock the soybean value chain in Iringa Region and that that measure will impact 2,900 CDI-supported farmers engaged in the production and marketing of soybeans for a period of three years.
The money will be used to solve the problems and challenges Mr Kinyunyu talked about in 2013. One hopes he, too, will be one of the beneficiaries. The TADB Managing Director, Mr Japhet Justine told the launch that TADB is excited about this partnership, as it is the first intervention the bank is partaking in the soybeans value-chain.
There is an increasing demand for soya as a fortifier in human foods, and there is an active cadre of smallto-medium-scale entrepreneurial processors, mostly women, servicing this requirement. Similarly, there is a growing demand for soya as an ingredient in animal feeds, especially for poultry. Though soya production has been hampered greatly by many problems, the significance of the crop cannot be denied. It is a cash crop for growers and the country needs the crop to produce animal feed and oil.
Results of a survey on soya production in Tanzania that are highlighted in the Sagcot document show that smallholder yields are often low due to acidic soil, minimal use of fertilizers, limited availability of quality seed and poor crop management. Sagcot argues that a strong soya value chain is critical to boosting production.
The soya value chain can incorporate a wide range of actors, from smallholders to large-scale producers, brokers and agents, processor, retailers and consumers. Mr Justine told the launch that the MoU has set a loan facility that will be used to help farmer leaders, village community banks (VICOBA), and AMCOs members to have access to basic soya seed to multiply into Quality Declared Seed (QDS) and certified seed for producing soybean grains.
“The AMCOs will also get aggregation loans that will give them the capacity to undertake early purchases of soybeans and post-harvest handling linkage to markets. The good news is that soya production has been rising over the years despite the challenges and difficulties farmers face. Mr Justine said: “Production of soybeans in Tanzania has increased progressively in the last 10 years. It has risen from 3,100 metric tonnes in 2009 to 22,953 metric tonnes in 2019. However, productivity is still very low when compared to that of other countries. With our Integrated Value-Chain Financing model, we are certain of increased production of soybean in Iringa. We want this partnership to upscale production in order to increase exports”, he said.
CDI Country Director, Monsiapile Kajimbwa, said the investment will help soybean small-scale producers increase their income because, he said the AMCOs will be in a better position to serve their members.
He called on leaders of the AMCOs to use advantageously the money because, he said, after three years, the TADB and CDI expect to see members increasing their production capacity; to see a well-managed soybean supply chain; to see AMCOs having gained the capacity to buy quite early grain from members and see AMCOs having developed requisite trade and management skills because of engaging in regional soybean markets.
Between 2019 and 2021, the CDI supported 56 VICOBA members, three Iringa AMCOs and helped 106 farmer leaders to produce quality soya seed for other farmers in their communities.
Building on a lifetime of public service, President Bill Clinton established the Clinton Foundation on the simple belief that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, everyone has a responsibility to act, and we all do better when we work together.
For nearly two decades, those values have energized the work of the foundation in overcoming complex challenges and improving the lives of people across the United States and around the world.
About the Author: He is a professional journalist working as a media consultant and researcher based in Dar es Salaam. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or +255 713 466661