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Smallholders’ group calls for better access to finance

Thursday December 17 2020
Finance pic
By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Smallholder farmers in Arusha Region have appealed for easier access to loans that would enable them to buy inputs, improve productivity and increase yields.

They are also demanding reduction of the prices of the agricultural inputs and improved extension services by the state actors.

“One of the challenges we are facing is poor access to loans we can use to buy inputs” said the chairperson of the regional chapter of the National Network of Farmers’ Groups (Mviwata), John Safari.

He said despite the proliferation of banks and lending institutions, conditions to secure loans were still stringent for most smallholder farmers.

He made the plea during the eighth annual general meeting of the umbrella body of the network, Mviwata-Arusha, a 9,012-member group registered in 2013.

He added that the network chairman said its members and other farmers needed quality inputs such as seeds, vetted by the experts.

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“We are not confined to farming alone. We have expanded to livestock rearing and beekeeping,” he pointed out - noting, however, that their focus is to raise the income of farmers.

Mr Safari said Mviwata-Arusha would not relent on its efforts to enhance partnership with the state actors, especially the local government and the private sector.

“The government should listen to us,” he insisted, lauding support from their foreign partners from Belgium and Germany.

The network (Mviwata- Arusha) was born out of district network for Monduli district in 2001, later necessitating the formation and registration of an umbrella network for the region in 2013.

Currently, according to the network’s chairperson, the group has a total of 9,021 members and 412 income generation groups.

The one day meeting at an Arusha hotel was followed by launching of the network’s five year (2021-2025) strategic plan to replace the previous one which ended in 2018.

An assistant regional administrative secretary, Hargeney Chitukulo, said the government was keen on supporting the organization to attain its targets for the benefit of all farmers.

He said the Agricultural Policy of 2013 and phase two of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP), launched in 2017 aimed to transform agriculture through farmers’ groups.

The regional chapter of the farmers’ network said that, in order to push the development of the vast region to a higher level, it must address the challenges which farmers face.

“We will have to surmount the challenges that farmers and pastoralists in Arusha face - and improve their standard of living,” the secretary said.

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