Ministry hails Heifer for empowering smallholder farmers

DAR ES SALAAM: MINISTER for Livestock and Fisheries Mr Abdallah Ulega has hailed Heifer International for its strong commitment to compliment government’s efforts in strengthening the country’s small holder farmers, particularly women and youth, in bolstering technology in the livestock and agriculture sectors.

Mr Ulega made the remarks on Tuesday evening during Heifer Networking Cocktail, which convened on the sidelines of the AGRF Africa Food Systems Forum 2023, taking place at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam.

According to the Minister, the non-for-profit organisation’s relationship with Tanzania dates way back from the era of the founding father of the nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who requested his counterpart former US President Jimmy Carter to help the country to improve and strengthen the livestock sector.

“Among the programmes which Heifer will be embraced for is the ‘Kopa Ng’ombe Lipa Maziwa’ whereby through the investment of modern technologies major revolutions have been encountered in Southern Highlands region, which is the country’s milk basket comprising of Rungwe, Njombe, Iringa and among others,” said Mr Ulega.

He noted that recently, the organisation supported Tanzania to transform Msomera Village of Handeni District in Tanga Region as a hub for livestock by establishing groups of herders.

According to him, the groups were doing very well and in fact a youth group in the area has adapted the vision of the Building a Better Tomorrow Life in their endeavours.

He noted that in collaboration with the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (TADB), Heifer and the International Fund for Agriculture Development were carrying out another programme in the Lake Zone identified as TI3P to help strengthen milk production.

“We envision more milk production the goal being to meet our own demand and surplus to sell to other countries,” noted the minister.

He disclosed that the efforts have started by putting up big industries, stressing that with more investments and partnerships the goal of producing surplus milk which bring foreign direct investment (FDIs), thereby creating more employment for women and youth can be realised.

For her part, the Chief Executive Officer and President of Heifer, Ms Surita Sandosham noted that they work with small holder farmers to make sure they get a sustainable living.

“Heifer has been in Tanzania for almost 50 years and within that time the organisation has worked with small holder farmer families to get a sustainable living income by partnering with the government taking into strong account that farmers are the drivers of the economic engine around agriculture,” she said.

Ms Sandosham observed that the organisation was very focused on women and youth and what is really important is to ensure that they find ways to create an ecosystem to allow the woman to be an investable unit.

Heifer Country Director Mr Mark Tsoxo revealed that the impact made since the organisation set base in Tanzania has helped reach over 1.5 million households by removing them out of abject poverty.

Also, they have supplied 282,000 machines through the Kopa Ng’ombe Lipa Maziwa programme, whereby currently Tanzania possesses around 1.3 million cattle for milk.

Besides, he said Heifer has invested in infrastructure to support milk production, transportation and accumulation and collection.

“Tanzania milk processing project we managed to collect milk from 56,000 litres in January 2020 to 113,000 by June 2022.

“The 62 million population of Tanzania over 70 percent account for people below the age of 35, if we don’t do anything between now and the future many of the farmers will be aged.

“On average age of Tanzania livestock keepers ranges from the age of 56 to 62 years of age meaning that the ones dealing in agriculture and livestock are already elderly people,” he said.

On the other hand, the demand of food is continuing to grow; the same applies to the number of people and migrants who move from the villages to the urban areas.

“There is a need to create youth who will be able to effectively take part in agriculture and livestock keeping and fisheries,” he stated.

Likewise, 52 per cent of Tanzanians are women, if nothing is done to touch on the group it means Tanzania’s goal of revolutionising the agriculture sector will be a long dream contributing to food insecurity.

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