This is a question many would answer pessimistically. For me, the answer is different. I think and strongly believe that it is possible to eradicate abject poverty in Nzega and in that direction, I am optimistic that we could eliminate poverty in Nzega through robust plans and strategies geared at mainstreaming investment in agriculture and related agro-processing industries. I am calling on all stakeholders to put more emphasis on agricultural programmes and to act with new vigour and energy towards this end. My focus here is mainly on two strategic actions:
- i.) Market access for farmers – As a development professional, he has designed an economic development model that focuses on creating market access for agricultural produce through a farmer – buyer/processor partnership. Through the company, MSK Solutions Ltd (www.msk.co.tz), that he co-founded with his friends in the year 2006, the model was tested in Bunda district and later on implemented in Nzega and has effectively worked. The model has a target on ensuring sustainable markets for small holder farmers through a strong partnership with processors or buyers of crops. The partnership is regulated by the government seating in between. The regulation could involve signing of a contract that specifies the rights and responsibilities of each party. The responsibilities of the buyers/processors are but not limited to providing farm inputs, farming machines, supporting of extension workers, a reliable and timely market for farm produce; and those of farmers are to till the land, take care of crops and ensure they sell the produce to the contracted buyer/processors. The government will guide the whole process and ensure everyone gets what is due to him and that the working environment is conducive to both parties.
At Nzega we developed, a Nzega Cotton Development Project (NZECODEP) and Balimi Revolution Project (for promotion of sunflower cultivation) aiming at introducing cash crop farming to stimulate farming for cash; because if farmers have no source of income they would sell their food crops and in turn invite famine in their households. The projects have three and two years consecutively and have registered a lot of support and success. The number of farmers for the NZECODEP has increased from 355 to about 24,000 in the third year of the project, and production volume from 20,000Kgs to 1,000,000 Kgs. And at this juncture we have invited other companies to also come and invest in Nzega. The sunflower development project started with 102 growers and the number has reached 1,550 in the second year. These farmers are organized into FBGs (farmers’ business groups) of people ranging from 50 – 70 members in each single FBG. The FBG will democratically elect Chair, Secretary and Treasurer from among members and each member must guarantee another and the group must be responsible for all the liability of singular members as well as the whole group.
It is envisaged that with the growing number of growers and expansion of the production volume, the potentiality of Nzega will be obvious, and we are optimistic that we should be able to attract investment in the construction of processing industries (ginneries and oil mills and refineries) in Nzega, the presence of which not only would create employment, increase money circulation, create source of related businesses for middle men, increase revenues (produce cess and levies) to the district council but also will cause a multiplier effect in our economy. The strategic location of Nzega is another added advantage, where an investor has an easy reach to nearby districts of Tabora, Shinyanga and Singida region. The location of Nzega place it as an important economical hub from where you could connect with four tarmac roads and the resumption of rail services, logistics are even made simpler.
- ii.) Another strategy targeting poverty eradication in Nzega is geared on creating a rural financing model that works profitably for the financiers as well as local entrepreneurs. The model has focused on financing activities related to agriculture and other small and medium enterprises. It involves the establishment of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) that are open to members. The office of the Member of Parliament is facilitating their establishment and building their capacity on entrepreneurial and management skills so that they run profitably. Also our office is providing the four core SACCOS with office space and initial startup capital including equipment such as incubators for a women SACCOS so that they could produce chicks and lend to individual members on credit, also supplying them with milk producing cows; welders, iron benders/cutters, compressors and other construction equipment and gears (for the youth SACCOS); also initial seeds and plants for the elders’ SACCOS and the farming input cooperative. The plan is to nurture these four organizations first before expanding into supporting others. Among the support provided for the SACCOS is assisting them with accessing credit facilities from banks so that they could in turn lend to their members.