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Going back to history, it is probable. According to stakeholders before independence Tanzania and the rest of East African Community was farming and producing oil from local seeds for local use and exported to Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire (now DRC), Malawi etc.
For Tanzania’s case things changed in the 1980’s, when seed oil companies started closing one after another after the government removed tax from imported oil. This almost eradicated local seed production. Malaysia/Indonesia became the largest exporters of edible oil, by dropping prices thus leading to collapse of local seed farmers in Tanzania and other parts of the world.
In the recent years the government of Tanzania has imposed a 10 per cent duty on imported oil in order to help small scale farmers and standalone soap manufacturers, according to Meru Agro.
Chacha Watanga, Managing Director Meru Agro, notes that there is a positive feeling and approach and now it is for Tanzanians to increase production of edible oil seeds (eg sunflower) in order to meet local demand and create export market.
« This will go a long way to help us become and industrial nation instead of being a supermarket for foreign nations, » he says.
And now, Agriculture Markets Development Trust (AMDT), an agriculture facility established by governments of Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland is seeking to improve sunflower value chain in Tanzania through bringing market changes by partnering with both private operators and government agencies.
The initiative aims at providing better seeds and advocating for a more inclusive local and national business environment in the agriculture sub-sector.
The facility with a life span of at least 10 years aims at increasing incomes and employment opportunities for poor women, men, and young people in Tanzania.
AMDT works in the sunflower, maize, and pulses value chains as far as the market facilitation is concerned and advocates for improvement of the business environment.
However, in an advertisement published in the sister newspaper recently, the organization invited both private and public sector companies to express partnership interest in stimulating the market for improved sunflower seed varieties as well as enhancing pro-poor contractual arrangements between smallholder farmers, small-scale processors and larger processors/buyers.
Tanzania is reportedly improving the production of sunflower but it has not reached its potential due to difficulties in accessing markets and better seeds.
Oil seed business is not included in most policy document for food security or exports, thus attracts little government support, according to a 2012 Tanzania Edible Seeds Oil Association report.
The industry also suffers unfair competition from cheap subsidized imports that are not charged exercise duty.
The product which is used for generating edible oil is produced in some 15 regions of the Tanzania mainland but Singida accounts for about 40 per cent, according to the document.
Assessment of the Potential of Edible Oilseeds Produced in Tanzania conducted by the Tanzania Edible Oilseeds Actors Limited (Teosa) estimates sunflower to have been growing at annual rate of above 34 per cent in 2011/12 translating to over 800,000mt.
However, the majority of farmers are said to be using the so called open pollinated (OPV) seed varieties which have been around for a long time, thereby losing their original production potential.
Tanzania also is reported to import about 50 per cent of edible oils mainly as crude or refined palm oil and the remaining 50 per cent is supplied from domestic sources.
Important oilseeds in Tanzania include groundnuts, sunflower and sesame and the domestic supply is augmented by other crops like cotton seeds and palm oil.
There has been growing interest and efforts by the government and other stakeholders to improve the competitiveness of domestic sources of edible oils to substitute imports but the report points an accusing figure to absence of clear enabling policies, strategies and programmes.
The AMDT Intervention Strategy (2016 2020) is aimed at stimulating systemic changes in a number of areas in the value chain.
First, it wish stimulate the market for improved sunflower seed varieties through inspiring the private sector to invest in supplying improved seed varieties while also encouraging the public sector through responsible research institutes to invest in developing the breeding capacity for new hybrid seeds in the longer term.
The target is to bring into the market at least 4 6 new hybrid varieties by 2020.
Second, it aims at increasing availability of and access to improved seed varieties by smallholder farmers, especially those in highly productive areas and upgrading the breeding capacity of the sunflower research institutes to develop the country’s capacity for breeding and generation of improved seed varieties in future.
The strategy targets to enhance pro-poor contractual arrangements between smallholder farmers, small-scale processors, and larger buyers for the purpose of developing collaboration, through contractual arrangements, in order to improve access to finance across the sunflower value chain.
The first intervention in this is enhancing access to bundled services for farmers and small-scale processors such as agricultural advisory services, market information services, business development services and financial services.
The second intervention is building the capacity of farmers’ associations and small-scale processors so as to increase their capacity for selforganisation within the contractual arrangements and in the broader sunflower sub-sector.
In these two areas, AMDT would like to partners with the seed companies market facilitators and service providers like finance, insurance, information and extension, business development, and technology and mechanisation.
The geographic areas identified for the pilot interventions include Dodoma/Morogoro Mbeya/Rukwa Singida Lindi/Mtwara Manyara Iringa/Njombe and Shinyanga.
Copyright 2016 actualité africaine