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How FAO is impacting Tanzania agriculture

Minister of Agriculture, Japhet Hasunga, handing over a trophy to FAO Tanzania Representative, Fred Kafeero, in appreciation of FAO's support to the forum. Looking on is Mwananchi Communications Board Chair, Leonard Masusa

Interview by The Citizen newspaper Reporter, Rosemary Mirondo with the Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to Tanzania, Mr. Fred Kafeero, ahead of the Mwananchi Though Leadership Forum on Agriculture held on May 23, 2019. You may read it from The Citizen newspaper at https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/How-FAO-is-impacting-TZ-agriculture/1840340-5127788-snw41qz/index.html 


What is the role of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the country?


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized technical Agency of the United Nations with a mandate on all aspects of food and agriculture, including crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resources management. We therefore provide technical assistance to the Government of Tanzania in order to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; and contribute to improving the living standards of all, especially the rural poor.

What have you been doing for all these years?

For 42 years since establishing a country office, FAO has worked closely with the Government of Tanzania in the development and implementation of coherent policies, legislation and programmes focusing on food security, nutrition, and reduction of rural poverty through crop production, livestock, fisheries and sustainable management of natural resources. A large number of the sub-sector laws, policies and strategic frameworks in the country have benefited from FAO’s technical support and expertise.

We have over the years strengthened capacities in government to align with international standards, codes of conduct and legal frameworks in the food and agriculture and to fulfil their reporting commitments to international processes through a strong and vibrant agriculture statistics system.

We have introduced proven approaches and good agricultural practices directly working with technical officers, farmers and civil society organizations.

FAO has also strengthened skills, knowledge and innovation of government personnel through training, exposure and secondment of personnel to learn from various FAO events and projects. We work closely with Academic, Training and Research institutions in this country, and we have been strong advocates for increased funding to enable them make meaningful impact especially at these critical times where climate change is wrecking havoc.

 We have played a key technical role in designing various agricultural investment programmes for financing by our partners, including EU, World Bank, IFAD and Africa Development Bank.


How does your partnership with Tanzania work?

FAO operations in Tanzania are guided  by a Country Programming Framework (CPF) which sets out priority areas for our support and partnership with the government of Tanzania. It is an integral part of the UN Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP II) and is aligned to the priorities of the Government and FAO’s global strategic objectives.

The current CPF runs through 2017 to 2020, sets out four priority areas to guide FAO support and partnership with the Government of Tanzania – combining innovative international best practices and global standards with national and regional expertise. The areas include: supporting the development and implementation of evidence – based agriculture policies; legal frameworks and investment programmes; increasing agricultural production and productivity for food and nutrition security; improving market access for increased incomes; strengthening resilience to climate -related threats and the sustainable management of natural resources. This obviously means we work in several partnerships with relevant government ministries, departments and agencies; Research and Academia; UN entities; Development partners; CSOs and Private sector.

What is the place of the agriculture sector in Tanzania? 

FAO looks at Agriculture in its broad sense including Livestock, fisheries and Forests, in which respect there is no doubt that the Agriculture sector in Tanzania is  key for economic growth, effective poverty reduction, elimination of hunger, and malnutrition. It remains the largest employer, particularly of the rural poor. Agriculture investments throughout the value chain in this country are however, still quite low if you compare with the enormous potential that there is.

Tanzania does not stand in isolation but is part and parcel of the broader  global community, and therefore obliged to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of Agenda 2063: The Africa We want; the Malabo Declaration on Agriculture and Africa’s Commitment to End Hunger by 2025.

All these frameworks mean that Tanzania has to prioritize and to transform its agriculture; to heighten political commitment; increase the level of public investment; double productivity and significantly reduce malnutrition. The Government has expressed its aspirations and commitments through 2 key multisectoral investment programmes namely: the Agricultural Sector Development Programme II and the National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan.  The rubber has already hit the road regarding their implementation and therefore a close monitoring of progress is essential.

What does the future hold for Tanzania’s agriculture?

It is good to see that the Government, Development partners, private sector and other stakeholders jointly developed and adopted long term multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder frameworks to guide the GoT and development partners’ investments in agriculture, food security and nutrition. Effective coordination and integrated implementation will remain key.

 The role of Private Sector in spearheading its implementation is quite pronounced, and so is that of Development partners. FAO advocates for a prominent role of domestic and international private sector in making responsible agricultural investments; getting modern production and processing technologies into the country; increasing financing to the sector; and empowering smallholders in accessing profitable markets.

As you are aware, there have been various forums making calls to government to facilitate an enabling environment for investment in the agriculture sector; and to foster dialogue and timeliness in decision-making over agriculture investment programmes. On the side of public financing, the Agriculture budget is still inadequate to make significant impact, even then, the proportions disbursed are quiet often below the target. 

In this era of unpredictable rains and flush floods, prolonged dry seasons, emergence of new pests and diseases, fluctuating prices for agriculture products, and the threat of deforestation, we need the commitment of every stakeholder, and to work collaboratively if we are to amplify the sector’s contribution to the economic growth of the country and to bring many actors into mainstream development. The role of Government as an enabler and coordinator of ASDPII implementation is cruicial; the centrality of farmers; the support of development partners, NGOs, private sector, research, academia and are all key to realise impact of the sector.

How will you support this future direction?

Agriculture is our lifeline and we should all join hands to ensure that the sector thrives to be able to meet the food and nutrition needs of our growing population. 

As such FAO will continue working with other Development partners, UN entities and key stakeholders in supporting government’s priorities in the agriculture sector. We will provide our technical assistance in development and implementation of policies, legal frameworks and investment programmes;

We will continue to introduce and disseminate proven good agriculture practices for a more productive and nutrition-sensitive agriculture that strengthens resilience of famers to climate change and respects the environment. Agro-ecology is one of our key areas of work that offer a holistic response to production challenges faced by many smallholder farmers.

We have been and will continue to play our role in strengthening the capacities of government institutions to put in place systems and improve processes along entire value chains that meet international standards for products, food safety and hygiene.

About the Mwananchi Leadership Forum

This is such a great initiative that gives an opportunity for experts and ordinary citizens to deliberate on important topics that impact on the livelihoods and the economy in general. FAO congratulates Mwananchi Thought Leadership forum in leading by example to show the positive role of media in fostering development. ‘Agriculture Our Lifeline’ is a befitting topic to all stakeholders, because with agriculture you achieve economic development; you achieve food security and nutrition. Agriculture brings money to the pockets of so many people. It increases employment to majority of the people in this country.