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Tanzania: New opportunities for female farmers

Felista Thomas, 57, lives in Shirimgungani, close to the famous Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. She is the head of her household and owns 1.25 hectares of land. This year she is leasing an additional hectare of land – all because of P4P.

“P4P came out of nowhere. I went to a P4P training which really helped me and I was very excited about joining the initiative,” says Felista. Last season, P4P contracted 50 tons of maize from her local Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO).

In Tanzania, P4P is working with SACCOs to connect smallholder farmers to markets. SACCOs are microfinance organizations set up to provide its members with access to credit, and they often are the only functional organization at the village level. WFP is also partnering with NGOs to promote the creation and capacity building of farmers’ organizations, which should take the marketing role on behalf of its members.

Due to poor seeds, Felista last year only had a small harvest to meet her family’s needs and for selling. She was also sceptical about selling to WFP, as she was used to being paid cash in hand from traders, and knew that it would take longer to receive her payment from WFP.

So, wanting to avoid a high risk for her and her family, she decided to sell only one 100kg bag of her maize for 38,000 Tanzanian Shillings (US$25) - a good price for her, as smallholders in Tanzania have limited access to markets and  are often practically forced to sell to traders at prices set by them.

“P4P is a good market,” says Felista who is waiting for the next harvest. Knowing that her SACCO will again be able to sell to WFP, Felista decided to rent another hectare of land so she can increase her production to sell at P4P’s higher price. This time round she used a government voucher to buy improved seeds, so she is convinced the harvest will be better.

 “Being able to sell a very small quantity was important because it gave me confidence to plant more. Now that I know there is a market, I can rent land to produce more.”

Together with its partners AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) and RUDI (Rural Urban Development Initiative), P4P is providing trainings to all SACCOs taking part in the initiative on post-harvest handling and marketing. With a higher-quality product and better knowledge of marketing, the farmers will also be able to find other buyers for their produce, which is integral to P4P and to creating sustainable links to markets for smallholders.

With the proceeds from the next harvest, Felista plans to buy an iron sheet for her roof, pay school fees for her grandchildren, and save some money. She hopes that P4P will keep providing education and trainings to her and her fellow farmers and to serve as a reliable market. As WFP has now also established advance payments for farmers in Tanzania who contract to sell to WFP after harvesting, Felista and her fellow farmers will be able to increasingly profit from the initiative in the future.

Read more about the situation of female farmers in Tanzania here: Challenges facing female farmers.