Launched in 2007, the Tanzania Agro-dealer Strengthening Program (TASP), funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, has been successful in building and supporting a vibrant agro-dealer network capable of serving smallholder farmer demands for improved inputs, services, and marketing. Like CNFA’s other agro-dealer development programs, TASP focused on business and technical training as well as capacity building. Programming also focused on facilitating access to financial services, output marketing, processing, value adding services, and policy advocacy through association development.
TASP also designed and supported the Tanzanian government’s targeted subsidy program to link agro-dealers to the local seed industry and has been scaled up to foster the development of a nationwide rural market network. In 2010, TASP expanded into new districts, allowing CNFA to improve productivity and incomes for additional farm households in remote and underserved areas. Since 2007, TASP has certified over 2,600 agro-dealers, who are providing products and services to over 1.5 million smallholder farmers and improving the lives of nearly 8 million people.
- Built agro-dealer capacity to better serve farmers through a proven six-part technical training covering: managing working capital, managing stocks, selling and marketing, basic record keeping, costing and pricing, and managing business relationships;
- Facilitated demand creation by establishing demonstration plots and farmer field days showcasing new agricultural inputs;
- Promoted improved linkage to financial services for agro-dealers through forums and clinics focusing on licensing, completion of a business plan, and access to capital.
Seed Industry & Smart Input Subsidy Distribution: At the program’s outset, CNFA focused on the five Southern Highlands districts targeted by the Government of Tanzania (GoT) for its smart, targeted subsidy program (Fast Track Districts) and five districts in the Arusha, Meru, and Kilimanjaro regions in Northern Tanzania. In Year 2, TASP expanded into the seven other districts in Manyara and Morogoro regions. Around Arusha, CNFA integrated agro-dealer development efforts with initiatives to improve Tanzania’s local seed industry, including foundation seed enterprises and local seed companies. Early activities focused on the design of a smart input subsidy program for sustainably implementing government subsidies to targeted communities and on developing the network of agro-dealers necessary to implement this subsidy program.
Association Development: CNFA supported seven district associations that were fully registered and ten that were in nascent stages of development. One of the associations supported by CNFA was the Songea Agro-dealer Association (SADA). SADA offers a powerful example of the benefits that a well-run association can accrue for its members and the influence that can be exerted. For example:
- SADA successfully advocated against the practice of Regional and District officials dictating prices at which inputs could be sold;
- SADA also proposed the “master input subsidy” concept that CNFA later brought to the MAFC, which would be issued by district officials on presentation of numerous input subsidies by the agro-dealer;
- Where individual group members (particularly startup agro-dealers) experienced difficulty in securing input supply credit, SADA managed to successfully negotiate for credit as an association;
- SADA leased an office in Songea Town and hired a coordinator to administer their activities.
Strengthening the Agro-dealer Network: TASP encouraged the establishment of new agro-dealerships in remote, underserved areas through matching grants, a credit guarantee facility, and demand creation activity that gave the farmer an opportunity to physically witness the benefits of improved agronomic practices and inputs. In addition, technical trainings to strengthen agro-dealer capacity, agro-dealer association development, and linking agro-dealers to financial institutions were key parts of the approach.
The Business Management Training (BMT) raised agro-dealers’ business standards of management and acumen, allowing the MAFC to exclusively link the handling of the subsidy inputs to agro-dealers’ successful completion of BMT. CNFA trained an additional 849 agro-dealers in 24 districts beyond the 17 in the original TASP scope to pave the way for the National Agricultural Inputs Voucher Scheme.