How new project improves livelihoods of rice farmers

Monday October 11 2021
Project PIC

Repoa Executive director Mr Mmari

By Hellen Nachilongo

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania has many opportunities of becoming a competitive and mass exporter of rice if it makes good use of its huge potential, experts say.

The country – which sits on a huge mass of arable land – must also encourage the use of good agricultural and management practices while also expanding rice production with potential standards and quality to start exporting to global markets.

However, despite the notable potential of rice development in the country, it is still constrained by various trade challenges such as poor infrastructural development, limited technology and innovation adaptation, limited extension services, trade restrictions such as export bans.

Despite such challenges, a number of women entrepreneurs and rice growers dare to face some of the obstacles and seek to expand local and foreign markets by next year.

This comes after they realised the essential value chain in business and in agriculture.

Ms Joyce Ruhiye, a rice grower in Mbeya, Mbarali area, told The Citizen recently that, in the past, she used to grow the crop without considering quality seeds and market because she did not know of the agricultural value chain.

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Through an independent research institution, which creates and utilises knowledge to facilitate socio-economic development, Research on Poverty Alleviation (Repoa), she has been able to practice good farming by planting high-yield crops and in return produce more.

“I am now optimistic that I will start exporting rice to Europe, East and Central Africa because I use advanced technology in harvesting, processing and packaging the product. It is also certified in terms of standards,” she said.

Ms Ruhiye, a mother of five, owns 100 hectares of land and can now harvest 3,000 bags of rice - and, after processing, she earns about Sh214.5 million within six months.

Her clients are from Zambia, Uganda, Tunduma and Dar es Salaam.

According to her, the said organization has helped her to be linked with big industries, government institutions and financial firms on how to operate profitably she was able to take her two children to the University of Dar es Salaam.

The awareness acquired on managerial and business operations systems such as access to loan, Tanzania Bureau of Standard (TBS), income and tax has helped her to employ professionals to supervise her business.

A Kahama rice grower, Ms Bhoke Mwikwade, said since she received training and linked with financial institutions she has bought hundreds hectares and accessed a tractor on loan.

She has entered an agreement with some rice farmers so that she could use her tractor to cultivate some 600 hectares for them to plant rice to increase rice production and for local and foreign markets next year.

Depending on the variety, a rice crop usually reaches maturity at around 105–150 days after crop establishment. Harvesting activities include cutting, stacking, handling, threshing, cleaning, and hauling.

Repoa executive director Dr Donald Mmari told The Citizen they were currently focusing on several researches and more specifically on gender issues to encourage equal participation and ensure improvement of people’s livelihoods.

To ensure people’s livelihood are improved and benefit from the economic growth of the country there must be an integrated system, accessed resources are used for the intended purpose, to improve local government authorities (LGAs). These are areas of focus for Repoa to conduct research and review some of policies that are one sided.

Gender is one of the obstacles that contribute to not having equal opportunities between women and men in economic activities. The organization was focusing to see participation of women and empower women.

Explaining on rice he said, Tanzania is one among few countries that produce quality rice and leading producer of rice in East Africa rice imports have continued to outperform exports.

To improve the rice trade and competitiveness, there is a need to invest in value chain infrastructure development, promote value upgrading through better linkages among farmers, millers and markets.

Also, enhance capacity building programmes to value chain actors, enhance reliable access of credit and subsidize farming inputs to farmers and millers, as well as strengthen research development, including market intelligence analyses.

Repoa’s senior visiting fellow, Mr Pascal Mihyo, said the problem with the value chain is that most cash crops are farmed by men, while subsistence farming is mostly left to women despite the fact that the issue of economic transformation concerns both men and women.