Small holder farmers from Singida and Chamwino Districts has called for government support to ensure that challenges which are still inhibiting agriculture sector in their areas are addressed to empower them economically.
The call was made during a training on Agriculture budget monitoring and advocacy which was organised by ActionAid Tanzania (AATZ) under Public Financing for agriculture (PFA) project in collaboration with MSTCD. The training brought together 26 representatives of farmers from AATZ working areas in Singida rural and Chamwino districts.
Objectives of the training were: to help farmers understand agriculture policy priorities and the role of government in supporting smallholder farmers, identify gaps and opportunities in the agriculture policy in relation to rights of small holder farmers, increase smallholder farmers understanding on how to tackle climate change in agriculture, identify areas that need support and understand roles of each stakeholder in all levels.
As part of the training, participants had an opportunity to analyze the National Agriculture policy (2013) and 2015/16 agriculture budget which was presented last year in the parliament which led them to identify and understand many opportunities and gaps which hinders them in agriculture sector hence needs more advocacy.
Some of the gaps identified by the farmers were; Inadequate budget, huge amount of the budget directed to operation costs, crops that are grown in Singida and Dodoma were not given priority, planned agriculture projects in the budget speech does not include Singida and Dodoma farmers, policies and strategies not well known by small holder farmers, lack of agriculture inputs; unregulated market etc.
Participants also had the feeling that the National resource are not fairly distributed and requested the government to make sure that the national budget looks in all regions instead of being directed only to few zones. “in 2015/16 agriculture budget and priorities were mainly directed to Southern highland regions and northern regions leaving Singida and Dodoma with nothing. We are wondering if smallholder farmers from Singinda and Chamwino districts are part of other Tanzanian farmers’’ commented one of the farmers Mr Mtamwa.
They were also concerned that most of the information related to them eg agriculture policy, strategies, and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials are not friendly user and not easily accessible to a small holder farmers which is the main hindrance to their rights; ‘’we advise the government to produce and disseminate agriculture information in the way which also a smallholder farmer at the village level can access and understand. Eg we are informed that agriculture policies are available in the tovuti (website),we don’t even know what is tovuti” complained Bi Rhoda from Chamwino.
Despite the existing challenges, participants further identified that agricultural sector has a number of opportunities which if utilized effectively will lead to increased production and productivity and thus act as a basis for poverty alleviation in rural areas including; availability of private sector and its involvement in agriculture sector, potential areas for irrigation farming, availability of farmers groups/AMCOS, existence of favorable policies and strategies etc.
They further advised the government to give priority and invest in small holder farmers because food and cash crops account for about 70 percent of rural incomes hence leads to sector growth and contribute in poverty reduction
Under the 2015/16 Budget, Tsh 353,150,873000 was allocated to agriculture sector compared to the last fiscal year. Women farmers said the current budget should take into consideration their challenges so that they actively contribute to the development of the country.
For the last three years budget allocation to agriculture sector stands at an average of 7% which indicates that government spending on agriculture is far below Maputo declaration which calls for 10% budget allocation.
PFA project was initiated in response to the Maputo Declaration on agriculture, which agitated for the increment of state allocation toward agriculture to at least 10 per cent of the National Budget.
Main objectives of the project are to ensure sufficient resources for the sector and that resources are spent effectively and efficiently, Advocate for policy objectives that create an enabling environment for increased productivity for smallholder farmers. It is a two years (2015-2017)project supported by Bill and Melinda Gates and it is being implemented in Chamwino and Singida rural districts of Tanzania.
Prepared by Paulina Teveli