Improving Farmers’ Livelihoods through Access to New Markets

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IESC F2F Volunteer Supports Linking Tanzanian Smallholder Farmers to New and Profitable Markets

Even with irrigation systems and agricultural training provided by organizations like Agronomos Sin Fronteras Foundation (ASFF), Mboga na Matunda (MnM), a USAID-funded project, and the Tanzanian government, farmers in the Mufindi district of Tanzania still struggled to find buyers for their produce. This struggle led the farmers to lose money and waste their crops. To support the farmers in overcoming this challenge, IESC’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Access to Finance Program mobilized volunteer expert Mr. David Visher in October 2019 to study the available markets for these crops and recommend potential buyers for ASFF and its supported farmers.

Following his study, David recommended that ASFF change their marketing strategy with the goal of helping ASFF-supported farmers sell their products at the highest average margin while ensuring a fair deal for buyers. David’s recommendations also included a list of potential buyers for ASFF-supported farmers throughout the country. One of the buyers identified was Mbezi Fresh Market, which is owned by Mr. Khalfan Suleiman, who has six refrigerated trucks and transports crops from South Africa to Tanzania to meet Tanzanian demand. When implementing David’s recommendations, ASFF reached out to Mbezi Fresh Market’s owner, and soon enough the two struck a deal with Mr. Suleiman agreeing to purchase crops from ASFF-supported farmers for transport to and sale in Dar es Salaam. Between November 2019 and February 2020, 80 smallholder farmers supported by ASFF supplied over 31,000 kgs of fresh produce including tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes to Mbezi Fresh Market. The price they received for tomatoes was ten percent higher than what any other buyers were offering.

Ramadhan Mhagale, a 29-year-old farmer in Igomaa village, Mufindi district, is one of the beneficiaries of this new market access. Previously, Ramadhan farmed for four years on a one-acre rental plot, only marketed his crops to towns nearby, and incurred transport costs up to TZS 400,000 per season. Since he started selling to Mbezi Fresh Market, his income has nearly tripled, and his transport costs have dropped to almost zero. While Ramadhan owns some land, he does not have a proper irrigation system for it. With this new income, Ramadhan says, “I plan to save for irrigation of that land and then to buy more land. Irrigation will allow me to raise crops year-round. I hope to be a very successful farmer.”

Jannet Tossi and Frederick Msimbwa, a married couple in Igomaa, have farmed all their lives. In 2019, they decided to begin farming as a business, and through the support of ASFF and their connection with Mbezi Fresh Market, their income has increased greatly. Jannet and Frederick said that the most difficult part of the new market relationship is being able to supply enough crops. “We no longer have crops that are wasted. We now need to start growing more times each year. We negotiated prices and payment methods with the buyer. Later, we needed to change our payment method and were able to re-negotiate it,” says Frederick.

When reflecting on the impact of the support delivered by the F2F program, Klaus Poppe, Director of ASFF, noted, “(t)he new market that has opened as a result of the work of the IESC F2F volunteer has helped ASFF farmer members to overcome one of their most difficult challenges—marketing—which significantly increases their income. We encourage more farmers to participate in the new market opportunity to meet the market demand of six tons of produce per day.” Due to the success of the deal and to meet the increased market demand, Mbezi Fresh Market has also engaged farmers supported by MnM. Ultimately, 3,000 smallholder farmers supported by ASFF and MnM across the three districts of Mufindi, Kilolo and Iringa will benefit and improve their livelihoods.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 50 years. The John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) provides technical assistance from U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries with the goal of promoting sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing.