Dar es Salaam. Former President Jakaya Kikwete will embark on a tour of Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique to mobilize political leadership and private sector participation in promoting agribusiness as a strategy for ending food insecurity and increasing household incomes in the continent.
This was revealed in Dar es Salaam at the weekend when Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister and Board Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), Mr Hailemariam Dessalegn, paid a courtesy call at the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation (JMKF) offices in the city.
In conversation with Mr Dessalegn, Mr Kikwete appealed for support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which he said were important for the faster growth of the agricultural industry.
“SMEs processing agricultural commodities understand consumer needs better than anyone. For agricultural transformation, and to respond to the market in a bigger way, it is important to place them at the fore-front,” Mr Kikwete, who also sits on Agra’s board, said.
In attendance at the meeting were Tanzania’s Agriculture minister, Prof Adolf Mkenda and his Industry and Trade counterpart, Prof Kitila Mkumbo.
Mr Mkumbo shared his ministry’s priorities, while recognizing Agra’s role in advocating for the removal of VAT on some post-harvest management technologies.
Agra provided an economic analysis study to inform the debate on rescinding the 18 percent tax on hermetic bags to make them more affordable to smallholder farmers.
The Agra study found that the removal of tax would increase demand for the bags by 150 percent, while raising the total net benefit to the society by $10.9 million per season.
It is such verification of impact that the Agra’s board chair, Mr Dessalegn, was looking to get during his stay in Tanzania, which will also see him engage Agra’s staff, private sector and development partners in reviewing their roles for the pursuit of agricultural transformation.
Mr Dessalegn arrived in Tanzania on Friday morning for a five-day tour that will also see him meet with President Samia Suluhu for dialogue on her government’s food systems priorities.
This is important as Africa prepares for the September UN Food Systems Summit, where the world will take stock of the progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the commitment to end hunger and poverty by 2030.
Mr Dessalegn’s visit to Tanzania brings to an end a six-week trip that has seen him travel to four other countries – Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. He passes over the mandate to H.E. Kikwete, who will use the opportunity to invite heads of state and government to the 11th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) summit, in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 7 – 10, 2021.
Established in 2006, Agra is an African-led and Africa-based institution that puts smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. Together with its partners, Agra catalyzes and sustains an inclusive agricultural transformation to increase incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021.