British High Commissioner to Tanzania Dianna Melrose, along with the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, together with the Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries, launched the BRAC Maendeleo Tanzania project: Livelihood Enhancement through Agricultural Development (LEAD).
The programme will run for 4 years from April 2013, with a total UK investment of £8.7m, or US $13.5m.
The British High Commissioner gave a speech on funding the LEAD programme, and gave three reasons for the support:
Firstly, the programme will have very extensive outreach to rural areas throughout Tanzania; it will operate in 34 of Tanzania’s 120 Districts, within 18 of Tanzania’s 30 regions. Within its 4 year programme, it will have an impact on 104,000 households by December 2016. The programme will make it easier for farmers to market their products at better prices, and to buy better inputs. Farmers will produce 50% more maize, vegetables, chickens and eggs, and will establish closer links with input providers and buyers in larger markets.
Secondly, BRAC has an impressive record in delivering on-the-ground development, in Bangladesh and 10 other countries round the world. In 5 years, BRAC’s microfinance operations grew to be the largest NGO microcredit provider in Tanzania. BRAC has an excellent track record of working directly with smallholder farmers, particularly women, and this experience elsewhere in Tanzania, and in 10 other countries, is expected to bring similar benefits to rural Tanzania through this new programme.
Thirdly, by focusing on maize, vegetable, and poultry production, BRAC’s LEAD programme is designed to have a tangible impact on women farmers in distant rural areas of Tanzania. Within its target group, 65% are expected to be women farmers.
The LEAD programme itself has learnt from an earlier pilot phase in Tanzania, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This pilot showed that trained farmers could achieve double their income from maize farming, with, for example, income from the sale of eggs increasing by 63%. The LEAD programme will seek to improve both yields and quality in agricultural products such as maize, vegetables, and poultry. The project will help to expand markets for these products, and improve access to high quality inputs and training in management techniques and technologies. The LEAD programme will also seek to improve access to finance and investment for farmers active in smallholder maize, vegetables and poultry.
The UK currently supports four other agricultural development programmes in Tanzania, through its Department for International Development (DFID). These are the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor initiative (SAGCOT), the Cotton Sector Development Programme in the Lake Zone, the Coastal Rural Support Programme working with rice and sesame farmers in Mtwara and Lindi, and the Tanzanian part of the African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) which funds innovative agribusinesses in Tanzania. This support to the Tanzanian agricultural sector aims to increase incomes of more than 550,000 smallholder farming households by 2017.