Learning from Each Other

By

An Interview by Claudia Jordan
Partnerships are needed to face the multiple shocks for food systems. This is what Dr. Jacqueline Mkindi, president of the Agriculture Council Tanzania (ACT) and CEO of the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA) states.

© GIZ, Fabiana Annabel Woywood

By Dr. Jacqueline Mkindi

Dr. Jacqueline Mkindi, president of the Agriculture Council Tanzania (ACT), Member of Food & Agriculture Delivery Committees of the Tanzanian president, CEO of the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA).

All contributions

How do you understand the Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems?

Dr. Jacqueline Mkindi: There is a very good commitment from various partners, but we need to do more. Especially now, that our food system is exposed to a number of shocks: Be it COVID-19, climate change, global economic crises. We need to come up with new ways of doing things. We need to build resilience of food systems. We also need to hold the smallholder farmers at the center of the transformation process, because they are the majority players when it comes to the food system. And they are the ones who are facing the challenges.

 

“We must sharpen our strategies against climate change.”

 

What are the challenges farmers face in Tanzania?

One of the challenges not only in Tanzania but cross cutting in Africa is the low productivity. This is because of a limited application of technology – technologies as fertilisers, irrigation, smart agriculture in data collection, with sensors, drones, satellites. You need an enabling environment, the right policies and regulations for availability but also affordability.

 

Secondly, we must sharpen our strategies against climate change. We need to mitigate the shocks with extreme temperatures, droughts, floods – you name it. We are seeing new pests and diseases now. Seeds, inputs that were giving us very good yields some years ago are not providing the same results today.

 

Another problem we face is the unpredictability of policies. We wake up in the morning and there is a policy announcement that distorts trade. Once trade is distorted, the producer is affected. Leave alone the infrastructure challenges. Now in Africa we are talking about regional integration. But a lot has to be done in enhancing our logistics and transport systems.

 

How do you with your organisation address these challenges?

TAHA is a member-based organisation and we actually are focussing on the horticulture sector in Tanzania. We make sure that our services are actually addressing the system, all the components of the value chain. Starting with the production, we try to come up with robust extension and support services to our farmers. We are now even digitalising our extension system. We are not only physically visiting farmers, but they can use their mobile phones and other platforms to access our support services. We are also providing timely business and market information to farmers. Because if farmers are aware of what is happening beyond their area of influence, they are empowered to make the right decision.

 

How many members do you have?

About 40.000 farmers are member of TAHA and about 770 institutions. It's actually the largest farmer-based organisation in Tanzania. The strategy that we use is information, extension, market access support services, as well as advocacy. When there are issues around the government, for example a policy change affecting us, we are very fast in doing the research, packaging the information properly and advocate on behalf of the sector.

 

This morning for example, you received the news that maize is not supposed to be exported outside of Tanzania anymore. How do you address this problem?

This goes beyond my activity with TAHA. I'm also the chairperson of the Agriculture Council. We are also the voice of the private sector in agriculture. We're holding meetings with stakeholders, arrange a discussion with the government just to understand where they are coming from and the implications of this new regulation. For that we can inform the private sector.

 

You might have made such experiences also in the past. How did that work?

Most of the time, such decisions cause irreparable loss to the private sector. We have often been able to discuss with the government and probably sometimes a ban was then uplifted.

 

What are your expectations with regards to German development cooperation?

Compare notes. We are here to learn from each other. Talking about farmers in Germany is not the same as talking about farmers in Africa. It is very important that we also learn from your strategies and services, relationships, how you engage with the government in advancing the issues of farmers. But I think it's also important for you to learn about us.

 

“Women need to be informed about their land rights.”

 

What policies should be changed or newly implemented in the future?

Policies around access to finance, that govern financial institutions and services in our countries. Access to land is also very important. We don't have an agricultural policy that protects our agricultural land. We need to improve capacities of institutions that are responsible for land use planning, management and packaging. Another important issue is land rights.

 

How is the situation of women and youth in this regard?

Women in Tanzania are allowed to inherit and own land. There are extreme cases, when a family would reject the widow from accessing the land. But if that woman gets assistance from legal organisations, you find that this woman will get the rights. But only if she's very informed and properly guided by legal organisations or other kinds of institutions. Women need to be informed about their land rights.

 

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