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5 September 2019.

IFU SUPPORTS SMALLHOLDER DEVELOPMENT

In Tanzania, the Silverlands fund has established a cropping and livestock operation aiming at developing and expanding markets for local small-scale farmers. This includes training, purchase of local crops and selling quality feed and day-old chicken for local breeding. To improve the outcome of the small-scale farmers, Silverlands has set up Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS), which is supported financially by IFU.

In the Njombe and Iringa regions of Tanzania, Silverlands produces cropping and livestock at the Ndolela, Makete and Selous farms as well as poultry and feed milling at the Makota and Iganga farms.

In recent years, Silverlands has invested heavily in the farms, including infrastructure, irrigation, expansion and introduction of new crops. Moreover, a new breed of chicken has been introduced. Today the farms employ close to 1,500 people.

The wider impact vision is to facilitate an increased domestic production of crops and poultry. At the core of this vision is the development and expansion of markets for local small-scale farmers, including training programmes in production techniques for small-scale crop and poultry farmers.

To achieve this, Silverlands Tanzania Ltd. has partnered up with the local NGO, Caritas, which is assisting in setting up Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS). The main purpose of forming these societies is to facilitate market access and connect smallholder farmers to the Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFD), which is a government requirement for selling produce. The connection has been financed by Silverlands.

IFU is supporting training

IFU has supported the set-up of five AMCOS for smallholders around the Silverlands farms by offering a training grant of DKK one million.

This means that since May 2018, Caritas has conducted several training sessions for smallholders in the area. So far, more than 8000 farmers have been involved, of which half are women. The farmers have around 1,6 – 2,5 hectares each, and training is offered free of charge.

The training programme includes modules such as:

  1. Land preparation
  2. Time for cultivation, lay-out (proper lines and rows), spacing, fertilizer application, and planting of new seeds: beans, yellow maize, sunflower
  3. How to weed (you lose 30% of your yield if you do not weed)
  4. Scouting for diseases
  5. Visits to demo plots
  6. Post-harvest management
  7. Learn and appreciate the importance of proper post-harvest management
  8. Understanding the entire process and what is required to have a good harvest
  9. How to dry produce properly

Based on Conservation Agriculture principles

The training is based on Conservation Agriculture (CA), which is defined as a sustainable agriculture production system comprising a set of farming practices adapted to the requirements of crops and local conditions of each region. The farming and soil management techniques protect the soil from erosion and degradation, improve its quality and biodiversity, and contribute to the preservation of natural resources, water and air, while optimizing yields.

Conservation Agriculture includes three core principles:

  • Minimum soil disturbance.
  • Maintenance of permanent soil covers.
  • Cropping system diversity, crop rotations.

The advantages for the smallholders of the programme are that they:

  • Get access to lower prices on input (seeds) and better-quality input, sold by Silverlands, which is introducing new and better seeds
  • Better yields because they have a better understanding of how to grow their crops
  • Now have different crops, which helps them when prices fluctuate/vary
  • Better prices because the AMCOS set-up provides collective bargaining so the individual farmer does not have struggle on her own
  • Have access to a bigger market and do not have to sell through middlemen who often destroy marketing systems

Smallholders selling 8000 tonnes

Through Caritas, the farmers meet with Silverlands, which hopes to off-take at least 8000 tons of maize and soybeans from the small-holders if they can keep up the quality. Furthermore, Silverlands is setting up a system to provide storage services issuing warehouse receipts at a very low cost.

Farmers have also had various field visits to Ndolela to learn good agricultural techniques for improving yields. This engagement will be strengthened further over the next year.

To continue without support

To get further insight, a baseline study has been done, and in a year’s time, when the external financial supports ends, it is the ambition that the AMCOS project can continue to create results.