How biofortified crops promote small holder farmers into commercial

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This follows deliberate and concerted efforts made by the Government of Tanzania in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which included, training and provision of modern graters and slicers equipment for processing their agricultural products. The move  aimed at enhancing availability of nutritious food products in the country and especially in the central regions. OFSPs have a potential of providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution to persistent micronutrient deficiencies observed in the country, especially in children under 5 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers.

Current interventions are focus on strengthening community capacity to produce, consume and trade in OFSP. To that effect, FAO has donated a total of fourteen cassava, sweet potatoes graters and slicers that were produced by local engineering company – Intermech Engineering Co. Ltd in Morogoro town.

The machines were given for free to the OFSP processors under the supervision of the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) and Small Industrial Development Organization (SIDO) which will continue to provide backstopping and monitoring of their business in order to adhere to processing quality and standards.

To catalyze sustainable investment for the production and utilization of OFSP through comprehensive plans and strategies pioneered by FAO, the farmers will now shift from back bench to a driving seat, that is, be part of the solution to the micronutrient deficiency challenge. The capacity building intervention will enable the farmers not only do their activities at a commercial level but also process OFSP into value chain and engage in bigger trade opportunities.

This move by FAO and other partners empowers small holder farmers, entrepreneurs, individuals and cooperatives to expand, add value to their products and move up the value chain across the country with a special focus on youth and women.

Earlier on, TARI had conducted training to key stakeholders in Dodoma along the OFS Potato value chain to build their capacity on Good agricultural  practices and appropriate processing technologies. These include seed multiplication, good agronomic practices, seed preservation, root processing, utilization and marketing of OFSP.

When presenting OFSP processing machines to entrepreneurs at the  Nane Nane (Farmers’ Day) agricultural shows in Dodoma, Deputy Minister for Industries and Trade Eng. Stella Manyanya,  commended efforts being made by FAO and other partners for facilitating the training which was in line with the 2005 National Entrepreneurship Policy. The Policy recognizes the contribution of small scale industries as a major source of employment, creation of  market for value added products.

 “This is like the seed, we want it to grow more into large scale industries, we want to see you owning more machines and opening more industries to to trigger further growth to our economy,” she said.

FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Officer in Tanzania,  Stella Kimambo, disclosed that about 1.3 tones billion of food produced annually is lost due to poor post-harvest handling before reaching the consumers worldwide. In Tanzania, the Ministry estimates that  there is a loss of between 30 to 40 percent of cereal crops before getting to the consumers.  The loss is even higher for horticultural crops and roots.

“TARI through United Nations Development Programme, Agricultural Sector Development Programme II,  the National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan are implementing the nutrition sensitive intervention by training farmers on how to address this loss,” she said.

 So, we have funded these equipment so that they can process farm products into value chain such a flour, juice, biscuits, and cakes for more profit, she added.

TARI Hombolo Centre Manager, Dr. Lameck Makoye said the machines will help roots and tubers processors to produce more conduct business and access markets in and outside the country. This will enable them improve their income, expand their business and make significant contribution to industrialization in the country. “I advise them to form cooperatives that they should formally register so that they can access bigger markets,” he said

The farmer entrepreneurs speak out

A farmer Sylvester  Mahanze from Ntyuka village who is also a member of ELCT- SACCOS in Dodoma says he was unable to process OFSP in large quantities but with new modern equipment, he willnow  expand his business and trade.

According to the results of the Tanzania National Nutrition Survey 2018, more than 2,700,000 children under five years of age are estimated to be stunted in Tanzania. Between 2014 and 2018, a significant decrease of the prevalence of stunting (37.9percent) was observed in Dodoma, however, the region still has the highest number of stunted children in the country (150,237 cases).  This means that Dodoma is one of the regions where  nutrition interventions should be prioritized due to higher number of stunted children

OFSP farmer Hamad Mamu from Chamkoroma village, Kongwa district in Dodoma explains that he started the business with OFSP seeds from TARI and planted before venturing into processing of different types of foods.

Promotion and expansion of processing factories is the main agenda for the Government of Tanzania, he pointed out adding: I call upon the Government and other partners like FAO to continue empowering food processors and if possible these support should go hand in hand with financial lsupport,” he addedAgro extension officer from Mpwapwa district, Anna Msenduki, received the training on OFSP before becoming a trainer on nutritional foods. In 2015 Anna ventured in production and processing of OFSP.  In 2019, TARI and FAO supplied seeds to Mpwapwa farmers including Anna to increase their production. This is when she started processing OFSP into different value chains such as flour.

“My goal is to establish a factory and register my company to be able to conduct successful business and start supplying to different  local and international markets. I want to address the problem of stunting, obesity and malnutrition,” she said     

Rudia Hamudu from Bicha village in Kondoa district was one of the beneficiaries of the TARI training in collaboration with FAO.  She engaged in OFSP value chain and so far she has managed to build a house and pay her daughter’ school fees from selling juice, baking cake and selling flour.

She called on other entrepreneurs to be role models for other ordinary farmers. “I call on the government to provide continuous education  on OFSP to prevent disease causing by malnutrition.

Jumanne Mhina, a farmer from Tungufu village received OFSP seeds and started growing them. Since 2017 to date he has been doing business and so far he built a house covered by green iron sheets, bought in furniture. Last year he sold the OFSP worth five hundred thousand shillings. He also pocketed Tshs. 2 million from selling OFSP vines.

According to TARI Tumbi centre Director, Dr. Kiddo Mtunda, in Tanzania, nutrition is an issue of national importance because good nutrition is both a desired outcome for ensuring optimal human health, as well as a key determinant of development, for the individual and for society in general. Obviously, malnourished people are not as productive as they could otherwise be. For example, a malnourished child does not have the same attention in school as a well-nourished peer and will not gain the same education; and malnourished adults cannot work as productively as well-nourished peers, with consequences for their incomes and, in turn, the national income. 

According to TDHS, 2015-2016; more than one third (34percent) of children under age 5 years are stunted (short for their age); 5percent are wasted (low weight for height) and 14percent are underweight (low weight for age). About 57percent of children under 5 (age 6-59 months) and 45percent of women of reproductive age (age 15-49 years) are anemic.

Micronutrient deficiency also called hidden hunger falls in the category of undernutrition. Micronutrient deficience is caused by inadequate intake of essential minerals and vitamins.  The main essential vitamins and mineral deficiencies in Tanzania are Vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B12, iodine, iron and zinc. Micronutrient malnutrition is problem of public health significance affecting a large number of children and women of child bearing age in Tanzania. To address micronutrient deficiency, nutrition education to promote consumption of a diversified diet, supplementation, and food fortification are some of the classical strategies employed in Tanzania.

FAO’s move to support farmers and change them from subsistence to commercial farming is a clear testimony and commitment to addressing the unacceptably high levels of malnutrition in Tanzania.

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