Samson Keenja, CRDB Microfinance Services Company Limited,
Dar es salaam, Tanzania
Agriculture is the leading economic sector in Tanzania, providing a livelihood to 80% of the population. It is the primary source of food and raw materials accounting for 50% of the GDP and a leading export sector. It remains important for achieving sustained growth, poverty reduction and rural development. Agriculture in Tanzania is dominated by smallholder farmers (peasants) cultivating an average farm sizes of between 0.9 hectares and 3.0 hectares each. About 70 percent of Tanzania’s crop area is cultivated by hand hoe, 20 percent by ox plough and 10 percent by tractor. It is rain fed agriculture. Food crop production dominates the agriculture economy 5.1 million ha. are cultivated annually, of which 85 percent is under food crops. The major constraints facing the Agriculture sector includes. 1. The falling labour and land productivity due to application of poor technology. 2. Dependence on unreliable and irregular weather conditions. Crops are adversely affected by periodical droughts. 3. Unreliable markets for the farm produce, affected not only by the principles of demand and supply but also by the Government policies on food security. 4. Poor road infrastructure for supply of farm inputs and transportation of farm produce to the markets. In Tanzania, most of production, processing and marketing functions have been assigned to the private sector. However despite efforts by the private sector in investing in processing of crops yet a substantial amount of crops are sold unprocessed including crops such as cashew nuts and cotton. Agricultural value chains are becoming more complex over time due to change in the market environment driven by various factors among them being changes in demand, regulations, government policies and changes in lifestyles. As a result of these changes then product and market standards change which in turn, require changes from various actors in the chain that supply these products including their inputs to meet market requirements. A critical input in the business of creating value in these changing agricultural chains is finance. Financial products need to also respond to the changing market requirements in the output markets. Mechanisms in terms of improving effectiveness of financial products, access and repayment need to be examined (Southeast Asian Regional Conference Value Chain Financing, 2007). What is a value chain?
In order for a product to reach the consumer or user, there often are many processes or steps involved. Each step must have a direct link to the next in order for the processes to form a viable chain. At each stage, some additional transformation or enhancement is made to the product. Hence, a value chain is often defined as the sequence of value-adding activities, from production to consumption, through processing and commercialization. Value chains, or supply chains, in agriculture can be thought of as a “farm to fork” set of processes and flows – from the inputs to production to processing, marketing and the consumer. Each segment of a chain has one or more backward and forward linkages. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and hence the stronger the links, the more secure is the flow of products and services within the chain (Calvin Miller and Carlos da Silva, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome)
Value chain in summary:
Source: Paper on “Value Chain Financing in Agriculture” by Calvin Miller and Carlos da Silva FINANCING EFFECTIVE AGRICULTURAL VALUE CHAINS
Finance is critical to increasing efficiency, improving product quality, and raising the productivity and income of value chain actors. Without access to finance, small farmers will continue to make little investment, have low-return production systems, and be unable to use their farm...