Norway commits $3million to market initiative for East Africa farmers

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The Government of Norway has announced its contribution to the Farm to Market Alliance, a global private-sector led initiative with the aim to make markets work better for smallholder farmers across Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia

US$3 million contributions to the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA), an initiative of a group of agri-focused organizations formed to make markets work better for smallholder farmers.

The Norwegian support was announced during a visit of Nikolai Astrup, Minister of International Development of Norway, to the Yara Tanzania Fertilizer Terminal in Dar es Salaam. The contribution marks the first year of a strategic partnership between Norway and the Farm to Market Alliance.

FtMA aims to create a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector that empowers farmers, forges strong markets and improves global food security. FtMA global members – including Yara International and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – make available their expertise, resources and country presence to build resilient value chains and improve livelihoods of farmers in Africa.

FtMA forms local private- and public-sector relationships to deliver a wide range of agricultural products and services, tailored to the needs of farmers. Through a demand-led approach, the FtMA provides coordination services for farmer engagement with local agricultural ecosystem players, with the objective to sustainably improve farmer livelihoods and to develop commercial viability for all stakeholders of the agricultural value chain.

The smallholder farming family is at the heart of Norwegian support to African agriculture. Norway sees the farming families as social entities as well as small businesses. The rural economy can only grow to its fullest potential when farmers realize the value of their production through fair and sustainable markets.

“The opportunities presented by the Farm to Market Alliance will benefit many farming communities and presents a promising business opportunity for a growing number of farmers in the partner countries,” says Minister Astrup.

About half of the 821 million people who go to bed hungry are smallholder farmers, despite their major contribution to global food production. With limited resources and basic food-storage solutions, they work small plots of land that often cannot meet their basic needs.

WFP convened FtMA to help provide small-scale farmers with production and income enhancing opportunities and helps them transition to commercial agriculture.

FtMA has been operational in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia over the past three years and has already engaged over 140,000 farmers and over 50 local private sector actors.

In Tanzania only, FtMA has already generated US$9 million in crop purchases by commercial buyers and facilitated over US$4 million worth of farmers input loans, provided by local financial institutions.

The support of Norway to FtMA demonstrates that lasting change will only be achieved through systematic engagement of the private sector with smallholder farmers. Norway’s commitment provides a strong impetus for this multi-stakeholder initiative to evolve into a sustainable market model.

“The main bottlenecks for Tanzanian agriculture development are insufficient financing, lack of firm off-taking for the smallholder farmers’ produce, poor knowledge on agricultural best practices and limited availability of high-quality agriculture inputs,” explains Alexandre Macedo, Regional Director of Yara East Africa. “Farm to Market Alliance has been successful in closing all these gaps simultaneously. FtMA today represents the most successful initiative to develop the smallholder farmers sector in a sustainable way.”

The attendees of this event included members of the Government of Tanzania, delegates of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, WFP Tanzania Country Director and representatives of FtMA global members and other businesses and organizations who play a key role in the agricultural sector in Tanzania and beyond.

Participants were presented practical examples of FtMA and Yara’s work, such as knowledge sharing with farmers as well as a demonstration of a soil lab installed by Yara Tanzania and joined the tour to Yara’s most modern fertilizer terminal in Africa.

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