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Farm Mechanization and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification- third review and planning meeting- Arusha, Tanzania

Farm Mechanisation

The third review and planning meeting for the FACASI project was held in Arusha, Tanzania. The meeting brought together the country implementation teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Australia. The steering committee, an oversight team that provides an advisory function to the project were also in attendance. Opening the event Dr Hussein Mansoor, a director at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries -Tanzania hailed the project for the tremendous progress that had been made within the last three years. He said the FACASI project objectives were in line with the Government of Tanzania priorities specifically the support for small scale mechanization. He reiterated that smallholder farmers were still dependent on the hand hoe and owned small pieces of land ranging between 1- 3 acres. The FACASI project was therefore complementing Government efforts and brought in a new dimension of business models for small farm mechanization using two wheel tractors. Important was also the fact that this project was addressing policy issues, he noted that few development and research projects address the policy environment under which operations and implementation of projects are carried out. The lessons drawn from a project like FACASI would go a long way in informing policy decisions on small farm mechanization and could influence the way agricultural policies on mechanization were implemented.

The representative for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research- ACIAR, Ms Liz Ogutu in her opening remarks gave a brief of ACIAR’s vision for Africa, the activities and projects implemented in African countries in 2016. She encouraged the FACASI Team to respond to the calls for concept notes that are periodically put out. The next call was scheduled for in mid- March of 2016. Speaking on the Australia- Canada Partnership, the Cultivate Africa’s Future fund- CULTIAF, she said this was a co-investment fund whose strategic focus was on the adoption of research outputs, nutrition, post-harvest systems, sustainable water use and was managed from Nairobi by IDRC. Examples of some the projects included, Post-Harvest Systems, Agriculture nutrition nexus among others. These projects are currently implemented in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Uganda and are expected to run for a period of 30 months.

During the four days meeting, discussions were held on the progress, challenges and opportunities made on each of the work objectives. Broadly the project objectives include

1. Evaluating and demonstrating 2WT-based technologies to support Conservation Agriculture systems, using expertise and implements from Africa, South Asia and Australia.

2. Testing site-specific commercial systems to deliver Two Wheel Tractor (2WT)-based mechanization.

3. Identifying improvements in national institutions and policies for wide adoption of 2WT-based mechanization.

4. Improving capacity and creating awareness of 2WT-based technologies in the sub-region, as well as sharing knowledge and information with other regions.

The field trip on the third day of the meeting was made to three different sites

Farm Equip is a renowned player in sales and services of farm machinery, spare parts, tools and equipment and was offering up to 150 million Tanzanian shillings in financing for farm equipment with No collateral required. The company had a portfolio of trusted suppliers and some of it activities included; small holder farmers benefiting through Field tour at Farm Equip - Arushacontract farming with large companies like AFROCADO, Kagera Sugar among other companies. Business plans made by EFTA would benefit the client whether financing was successful or not.The percentages of loan distribution was 31% for agriculture, 18% Agro - processing, 17% industry and 34% for businesses.

- EFTA was financed through Grants from shareholders, Equity Africa was the majority shareholder.

- loan repayment period was three years with a 90 days grace period. Their default rate was currently at 6%.

Farm Equip was collaborating with FACASI- Tanzania in providing financial linkages to service providers. It had branches in Arusha, Mbeya, Mwanza, Moshi and Bukoba respectively.

The second visit was to Dorgo Enteprises- Jua Kali one of the local artisans and fabricator working with the Selian Agricultural Research Institute, Tanzania -SARI under the FACASI project to locally fabricate farm equipment for small holder farmers and service providers. Equipment procured by SARI is provided on a lease arrangement and locally fabricated. This equipment is then

- sub leased to service provider under an arrangement where;

- 70% income realized from service provision remains with service provider

- 30% is remitted back to SARI

- the service provider provides services to farmers on a cash basis.

- most common service noted was shelling and transportation

The fabricator was

- making different kinds of maize shellers

- modifying the direct planter to rectify the hitching section to fit the tractor design and had introduced wheels to increase the stability.

- improving the fabricated sheller-chopper unit to make it compact and efficient

- developing hay baler and this was manually operated

- fabricating two wheel tractor ripper attachments

- was making motorised cane juice makers and hand carts

The third site was the Maweni Community Based model- Best Practice Hub- the host at the hub was Mr Paragi Erisa Maweni Community sitea service provider also a local pastor. He had been given the equipment under a leasing arrangement of 70:30 income arrangement with SARI. He was providing services on cash basis and serving three villages within his vicinity. In a year, he provided services for a period of seven months (February - April and September- November). The main services offered were transport and shelling. No planting services were offered and no conservation agriculture was being practiced, he said this was due to the hard pan and soil type in that area. Mr Paragi however said there high demand for services and these included

- shelling service using the equipment was of high quality (cleaned and unbroken gains) thus attracting many customers

- to date five service providers had expressed interest in purchasing the equipment.

The challenges the service provider faced

- The tractor had no headlights therefore no work could be done after dark

- The tyres of the two wheel tractor were small sometimes resulting in mechanical damage in rocky areas

- The planters were not performing well.

However the linkages had been made to other projects. It was suggested that he could make modifications to the tractor by installing headlamps and big tyres.

Lessons from the field trip

- Financial linkages and various opportunities were available to small holder farmers to be able to acquire farm equipment.

- The farm equipment dealership and network was strong in Tanzania and this could be tapped into, to maximize the advancement of small farm mechanization.

- The linkage of the dealer to research was important in modification of farm equipment especially for small holder farmers.

- Research in small holder farm equipment and a model of local fabrication was demonstrated during this field trip.

- Service provider linkages and a model of access to farm equipment was also possible as demonstrated

Communication workshopDuring this review meeting, two parallel workshops were also run, a training on Gender and a workshop on Communicating FACASI findings at country and regional level.

More information about the FACASI project can be got @ facasi.act-africa.org

Article written by Achora Janet Cox - African Conservation Tillage Network.










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