He said Tanzania’s favorable climatic conditions, good soils, a youthful population, and a propensity for mechanization could be harnessed to meet the continent’s food needs.
“Tanzania is one of the few countries in Africa that have the potential to feed the whole continent; very few countries can change their agricultural landscape but Tanzania can,” he said.
He was speaking during an engagement with Agra staff in Dar es Salaam.
Also in the meeting was retired Tanzania President and Agra board member, Mr Jakaya Kikwete, who rooted for increased research, mechanisation, irrigation and farmer finance in transforming Tanzania’s agricultural prospects.
“Smallholder farmers are greatly affected by climate change, thus the need for experts and researchers to help them cope with the challenge and increase their productivity,” said former President Kikwete.
“Irrigation agriculture, too, is a way forward and should be made accessible for smallholder farmers,” he added, citing his 31-acre maize farming venture that failed after rains stopped, inspiring him to invest in irrigation.
From here, Mr Kikwete takes over the food systems tour as Mr Dessalegn takes a break. The former President of Tanzania is set to lead a delegation to Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique, where he will invite the heads of state and government to the AGRF Summit 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya from September 7 – 10.
Meanwhile, Mr Dessalegn will later this week meet with Tanzania’s president, Samia Suluhu, to deliver her official invite to the summit.
During the meeting, Mr Dessalegn and President Hassan are also expected to engage in dialogue on her government’s food systems priorities. This is especially important as Africa prepares for the September UN Food Systems Summit, where the world will take stock of the progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably the commitment to end hunger and poverty by 2030.
Mr Dessalegn has been in Tanzania since Friday 9 July as part of a cross-Africa tour to witness the impact of Agra’s work, while mobilizing political goodwill and private sector participation in the transformation of the continent’s food systems
During his site visits in the Bagamoyo District and downtown Dar es Salaam on Monday and Tuesday, he explored private sector investments in milling and chick breeding, projects that contribute differently to Tanzania’s food systems development objectives.
Accompanied by Mr Kikwete, Mr Dessalegn first toured Joydons Limited, a maize flour processing business in the Coastal region, established by two sisters in 2012. From an initial capital of $2,156, Joydons has grown to have a $1.3 million operating capital base, and 248 workers.
“We currently sell our maize flour in four administrative regions on Mainland Tanzania – and plan to capture other markets soon enough, including export markets,” said the company’s co-founder and managing director, Joyce Kimaro.
From Joydons, the two principals and their delegation, visited AKM Glitters Company Limited in Dar es Salaam, which produces and sells improved chicken, and poultry feed. The company has in 14 years grown from a backyard poultry farm with 250 chicken to a hatchery plant yielding 320,000 day-old chicks per month.
Through its vast network of primarily women-owned businesses, AKM Glitters has in the past four years alone distributed 7.2 million day old chicks of the dual purpose Kuroiler breed to at least 1.25 million smallholder farming households. The company also recently upgraded its milling plant to generate 120 tons of poultry feed everyday.
“By working with mostly female distributors in rural areas, we are able to support them in growing their own businesses as well as reach rural farmers and give them access to a high-quality breed of chicken and feed,” said Elizabeth Swai, the company’s founder and CEO.
Established in 2006, Agra is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with its partners, Agra catalyzes and sustains an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.