|December 13, 2007
US $13 Million Agro-Scheme targets Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi
A network of more than 3,200 rural agro-dealers will be established in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. The initiative is aimed at bringing inputs closer to farmers. The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) has provided $13 million under its Agro-dealer Development Programme (ADP). Agra will grant $4.3 million (Sh5 billion) to implement TASP. The agro-dealers will in turn reach a total of 1.6 million rural households, potentially benefiting 8.8 million farmers and their family members in the three countries. An Agra statement said the network would help small-scale farmers rid themselves of poverty and hunger.
In Tanzania, it will be implemented under the Tanzania Agro-dealer Strengthening Programme (TASP) to reduce the time and distance farmers travel to fetch farm inputs. The dealers in the country will be provided with training and capital to become certified agro-dealers. They will operate small businesses that reach poor farmers in remote areas. They will also be trained in safe handling, efficient and environmentally sound use of farm inputs, and will pass this knowledge on to farmers.
According to the statement, the programme is part of an intensive effort to revive small-scale farming and agricultural markets. It said that was important because costs of basic farm supplies such as seeds, tools and fertiliser had been extremely high. "TASP aims to transform what is now a fragmented farm supply distribution system into a more tightly linked consortium of businesses," it noted. "It also will focus on giving farmers greater access to Tanzania's government-run fertiliser supply programme."
The initiative will also emphasise gender-equal participation and ensure that women have full access to training and financing. The programme will try to achieve a 30 per cent growth in rural smallholder incomes and a 40 to 50 per cent reduction in the average distance farmers need to travel to purchase farm supplies as well as an up to 15 per cent decrease in the price of inputs within three years, according to the statement. In Malawi, the Rural Market Development Trust will be operated with a grant of $4.3 million. It is focused on developing a network of more than 600 rural agro-dealers, up from the existing core of 160.
(The Citizen, Dar es Salaam)