Firm Targets 100,000 Farmers in Tanzania

farmer.jpgOne Acre Fund, an agricultural financing facility, aims at reaching out to at least 100,000 farmers in the country by next year.

The fund, which currently operates in five regions, supports smallholder farmers through credits in form of agricultural inputs.

This was announced at the weekend as the facility launched its scheme in Arusha region under which inputs worth Sh580 million would be supplied to the farmers.

“We will train the farmers to use skills given so that the can improve productivity,” said Michael Machela, One Acre Fund public relations officer.

The launching took place at Kikatiti Village where a total of 220 farmers have been enrolled in the scheme and lined up for Sh51.7 million credit in form of farm inputs.

The fund started operations in Tanzania in 2012, enrolling 4,500 farmers in the first year in Iringa Region where it has its country offices.

It later extended its services to Mbeya, Songwe and Mbeya and now in Arusha, registering a total of 52,000 farmers country-wide under the scheme.

At Kikatiti Village, 320 tonnes of fertilisers, improved seeds and other inputs were off-loaded and given to the farmers on credit in Arusha Region.

Mr Machela said the scheme has been successful and that in some in some areas the farmers have more than doubled their maize yields to 20 bags per acre from 10 bags or less in the past.

“Our vision is to reach out 100,000 farmers in 2020,” he told The Citizen, noting that plans were afoot to extend the scheme to Geita and Ruvuma regions

One Acre Fund, headquartered in Kakamega, Kenya, currently operates in seven African countries, namely Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Burundi and Rwanda.

It supplies small holder farmers in East Africa with asset-based financing and agriculture training services to fight hunger and poverty.

Ms Jennifer Lindgren, the country director, said since it started its operations in Tanzania, it has extended loans (in form of agricultural inputs) amounting to Sh. 11 billion.

“The loan recovery has been 98 per cent,”she said, adding that their focus was on maize, beans, potatoes and some vegetables.