Agriculture is one of East Africa’s most important sectors, with about 80 percent of the population of the region living in rural areas and depending on it for their livelihood and that is according to East African Community (2019).
For starters, the agriculture sector is by far the largest sector of Tanzania’s economy. According to the Bank of Tanzania (2018) agriculture contribute 30 percent of GDP, making it three times the size of trade at 11 percent, mining at 4.8 percent and manufacturing at 5.5 percent.
The agriculture sector employs about 77.5 percent of the country’s labour force and contributes more than 95 percent to the national food requirements that is in reference to Agricultural Sector Development Program II-ASDP II 2017.
Across East Africa, climate change and variability negatively impact the agricultural production, food systems and food security.
Research has found that climate change has different effects on different geographical regions and crop performance, and vulnerable populations are likely to be the most negatively affected.
Simultaneously, growing urban populations in Africa drive up the demand for food.
This calls for the need for an integrated approach, that spearhead the adoption and scaling of inclusive climate smart solutions and practices for sustained inclusive agribusiness development.
Since agriculture in East Africa is mainly rain-fed and highly vulnerable to weather change and variability, the negative impacts of climate change are already being felt in agricultural systems in East Africa in form of more frequent extreme weather events, shifting agro-ecosystem boundaries, reduced crop quality and quantity, and an increase of invasive weeds and insects.
The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) Project
CRAFT project was designed to address these climate change related challenges affecting the agriculture sector in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
This five-year project, launched in 2018, with funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in partnership with Wageningen University and Research, CGIAR’s Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, Agriterra, and Rabo Partnerships. CRAFT works with and through the private sector and supports public sector partners in creating an enabling environment based on field evidence for wide-scale adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices, including efficient, productive use of renewable energy in agriculture.
CRAFT interventions are embedded in inclusive and climate responsive investments to strengthen business performances of agribusiness and cooperatives across seven value chains in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
However the SNV Agriculture Sector Leader, Menno Keizer establishes that, “the cost of doing nothing may be much higher than the cost of not investing in measures to adapt to climate change.”
The implementation strategy is based on complementary interventions at three levels: (a) farming systems, (b) inclusive market systems, and (c) the enabling environment. One of the outcome of implementing this strategy are to:-
Increase income for smallholder farmers and SMEs. This will be achieved through: Increased adoption of climate smart technologies among smallholder farmers, SMEs and cooperatives.
Increase business performance for agribusiness SMEs and cooperatives due to climate related investments. This will be achieved through: Increased investments and business growth in climate smart value chains; and increased involvement of women and youth agribusiness development.
Improve the enabling environment favorable for large scale roll out of CSA. This will be achieved through: Increased collaboration and exchange among public-private actors on large scale roll out of CSA.
CRAFT impact on the agriculture sector in Tanzania in the past 3 years
i. The project supported 37,500 (40 percent are women) smallholder farmers to receive knowledge and skills in climate change adaptation and resilience solutions such as use of improved seeds, soil and water management as well as postharvest handling. This has resulted in improved yields and income.
ii. Through its Climate Innovation and Investment Facility (CIIF), CRAFT committed over €2.6M in de-risking investments of 18 agri-businesses and cooperatives in Tanzania; thereby enhancing the adoption of climate smart agricultural practices and technologies in specific food value chains such as sunflower, potato, common beans and sorghum.
iii. To ensure gender and youth inclusion, 6 of the agri-businesses are women and youth led/ owned.
iv. In an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions from agri-businesses, the project supported the uptake of renewable energy solutions and their efficient use in agribusiness. This was achieved through awareness raising, organization of technology demonstrations and business development support to project validated agribusinesses.
v. Through country and value chain specific Climate Risk Assessments (CRA) climate threats and suitable adaptation strategies for different actors, resources and processes across project supported value chains were identified in Tanzania. The results of the analysis were used to update crop manuals and prepare climate and business narratives.
vi. Promotion of household resilience in light of climate change, through facilitating climate smart farmer field schools, financial literacy trainings and a saving culture amongst smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. This enabled them to manage shocks and stresses caused by climate related causes.
vii. Conducted a Climate Risk Assessment (CRA) exercise. In the CRAFT project, the climate risk assessment (CRA) methodology explores what climate risks different actors, resources, and processes along a value chain face, and to identify suitable adaptation strategies that can help to lower these risks. At the same time, insights derived from the CRA provides a rationale for the climate smart business cases being developed in the CRAFT project. To understand the climate and weather variability, climate prediction models were developed for each supported crop in the value chains in Tanzania. The climate change projections were carried out for different climate variables (scenarios) in the identified value chains. For each value chain, climate variables such as rainfall, maximum, minimum, and mean temperature were analysed that explored climate risks and identified suitable adaptation strategies for different actors, resources and processes across potato, sorghum, common bean, and sunflower value chains.
viii. The model like many other climate projection models compared the historical (1961 – 2005) average temperature and rainfall with future (2050s) patterns of temperature and future rainfall.
The CRA workshop validated the climate projection populated by the program that showed an increase in Tanzanian temperatures of about 2 degrees Celsius (ºC) over the next 30 years.
For example, in the sunflower regions, the model projection for mid-century (2050’s) showed a temperature rise of about 2.8ºC and 2.5ºC in the central, southern, and eastern portion of the country for both short (October, November, December) and long (March, April, May) rainy seasons.
The seasonal mean rainfall was also forecasted to increase by up to 10 percent, especially in the long rainy season.
Similarly, the number of consecutive wet days for the North–Eastern part of Tanzania was estimated to increase by about 5-10 percent, which is about one day.
However, the rest of the country was approximated to experience a decrease in the length of the longest wet spell.
On the other hand, the rainfall in the North-Eastern potato growing regions was projected to increase by as much as 20-30 percent in the 2030s and 2050s; and a slight decrease (by 5-10 percent) in the South-West potato growing areas, especially in short rainy season.
The suitability maps left show how potato yield will be affected in the next 30-50 years. “If no adaptive measures are taken, the impact of climate change on crop yields in the Tanzania is largely negative,” says Agriculture Sector Leader at SNV—Tanzania, Menno Keizer.
He also says that for CRAFT, such information has warranted a coordinated response for addressing climate risks with committed engagement of agribusinesses, small holder farmers, government, policy makers and other key stakeholders such as the media, through the appropriate choice of practises and strategies that match current and future climate risks and build sustainable food value chains that are resilient to climate risks.
Moreover, Keizer insists that the outcomes of the CRA, for project supported small holder farmers and agribusinesses, have been of immediate relevance and benefit to suitable planning of farming operations (using climate smart cropping calendar), helping them to plan efficiently, minimize costs and maximise yields and profits.
For instance, this information helps them decide whether to undertake or withhold the sowing operation, when and whether or not to irrigate, when to apply fertilizers and whether or not to start harvesting.
“Increased business performance of agribusiness SMEs and cooperatives. Through its Climate Innovation and Investment Facility (CIIF), CRAFT has recruited 18 agro-businesses and cooperatives and injected over TZS 6.7 billion whereas the agro-companies and cooperatives invested over TZS 8.92 billion in specific food value chains,” adds Keizer.
The co-investment has not only improved the business performance of these agribusiness (of which 33 percent are women and/or youth-led) but also enhanced their resiliency to evident climate risks.
Moreover, through CIIF, the company have established business relationship with producers through participatory contract farming-the approach that not only strengthened the companies’ supply chain but also boosted farmers’ income via premium prices offered by the agro-companies.
The project has been of high significance to the few selected agro-companies from whom potential smallholder farmers were reached out by CRAFT’s smart practices and technologies.
CRAFT has worked with among others Temnar Company Limited An agro-company deals with processing, distribution, and marketing of edible oils including sunflower; Nondo Investment Company An agro-SME active in the sunflower value chain, and; East African Fruit and Farm Company: an agribusiness that is specialized in branding, distribution, and marketing of potato.
The services that these agribusinesses provide to smallholder farmers include trainings in climate smart agriculture practises such as integrated pest management, post-harvest handling, sustainable soil and water management, climate tolerant and sustainable seeds selection (and distribution), as well as access to finances (in credit or cash) at favourable interest rates, and reliable markets.
The Project Coordinator at East African Fruit and Farm Company (EAFFC), Hance Melchior says that the company, and so farmers, have benefitted a lot having worked with CRAFT since October, 2020.
One of the marks left by the CRAFT to the EAFFC’s working blueprint is digitalisation of the distribution system.
“Through B-Zoom software a customer can directly order produce from the company which has improved delivery efficiencies and reduced post-harvest losses,” says Melchior.
Also, EAFFC has a system in place that helps following up on every single pre and postharvest detail of the supported farmers from what he/she sowed, harvested, and if the harvest have been sold or not, which according to him, facilitates the companies supply and distribution activities.
A potato smallholder farmer at Rungwe, Moshi, Evarist speaks his mind by admitting that if it wasn’t for CRAFT and EAFFC link—up, it wouldn’t all that be possible. “Through Climate Smart Farmer Field Schools, we were able to change the way we cultivate, and applying modernised climate smart practices such as; mulching, crop rotation and minimum tillage and access and interpretation of weather information, this has boosted my potatoes production from 70 bags per hectare last year to 120 bags this year.”
The Managing Director of Nondo Company, Herymathew Raymond substantiates that the agro-company has been involved in the CRAFT project too which is carried out in a cost-sharing manner between both parties.
Despite the strides and milestone evidenced in the CRAFT project, Nondo as any company, faced a policy hurdle in the 2020 cropping season when the regional government authority ordered all crop sales and marketing be done via auctions managed by the regional cooperative union.
With such situation the company despite its huge investment to farmers it had to obey to the stated law and or policy.
“The policy was such a downer, and it adversely affected us as we couldn’t buy agricultural produce (sunflower grains) from farmers any longer, and the only way was to go and buy directly from the auction,” he explains.
Raymond insisted that apart from few challenges he emphasises that Nondo has supported farmers to improve sunflower productivity and production across the region and offering a reliable market.
He, explains, that his company has an installed oil press with a 30 tons per day capacity. “They have an option of either selling to us sunflower seeds or bring their produce for oil pressing, and then sell sunflower oil to us,” says Raymond.
The Mtwara-based agribusiness Managing Director, John Julius expounds on details that Temnar has been working with the CRAFT project since 2020 for boosting the sunflower value chain, especially improving its productivity and resilience amidst the climate change.
Julius says in doing so, the company has decided to work closely with Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA)’s expert who operates at Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
“The TMA officer trained few selected government and private extension workers on the synthesized weather information and provide training on how to interpret weather information,” says Julius who adds that farmers use the weather information to plan their crop management practices.”
A Ngalole village resident and sunflower grower, Hamida Lucas, from Masasi, Mtwara region gives us a clear picture of what CRAFT means to her.
“We used to prepare fields in December, but all of that has changed because of climate change. As for the training we had, they advised us to always adhere to the cropping calendar as per forecasted weather information and also to sow climate resilient crops such as sunflower, sesame and cassava.
Also, when there are prolonged wet spells, they said, we should cut leaves and spread onto the ground for some time, so that when it stops, leaves will have reserved humidity from the fallen rainwater which is essential for sunflower growth,” she explains.
For the coming years, CRAFT intends to design more mechanisms to increase adoption of climate smart practices and technologies among smallholder farmers, SMEs and cooperatives, and produce more crop and area specific suitability maps for the targeted value chains amidst climate change in the next 30 years.
The project is implemented by SNV (lead) in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Agriterra and Rabo Partnerships.
Our appreciation is also rendered to the Government of Tanzania especially the Ministry of agriculture, TAMISEMI through regional and district councils where CRAFT-project operates and other public and government agencies.
For more information, please contact SVN/CRAFT Tanzania through [email protected]