Memorable field visit of IFAD’s Executive Board to Tanzania

The week of 11-17 May culminated into a meeting with the President of the Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete in Dar es Salaam on Friday 16 May. The president set a casual tone for the discussions but made all the salient points regarding his vision of smallholder agriculture in Tanzania. For example, mechanisation and improved agricultural technologies, investment in research to ensure development of viable inputs for farmers, as well as a conducive policy environment that allows for responsible Public Private Partnerships that benefit smallholders.
There were 8 board members – representatives of Finland, Angola, Nigeria, Switzerland, Indonesia, Netherlands, China, and Mexico. On the visit was also the ESA Regional Director, 2 members of the Independent Office of Evaluation, and IFAD Country Office. The visit was hosted by the IFAD Governor, Tanzania's Minister of Agriculture, Hon C. Chiza
To set the pace of the visit, Francisco Pichon shared a presentation about IFAD work in Tanzania and the agenda for the week. On 12May, we travelled to Arusha for a discussion on regional cross-border trade for agricultural products in East Africa, with the East African Community . Kilimo Trust participated in this meeting to show how the proposed IFAD grant project will facilitate regional market access for the small scale farmers. We were taken to the Kenya-Tanzania border post of Holili, where a One-stop customs system is set to start operating soon. One-stop customs unit will reduce the amount of time spent on the road, and for agricultural produce which are perishable, this is good news.
From Arusha, we headed to Kibaya Kiteto, to meet the Masaai cattle keepers' community who have been supported with better access to clean water. The weather was cloudy and we could not land at the pre-planned airstrip (which is close to the village we were visiting). As such, we ended up in Dodoma and had to travel for a little over three hours by road to get there. It was well worth it meeting the community members and hearing their story of how access to water has helped reduce the spread of trachoma, as well as removed the need to move every season in search for water. 
After Katikati, it was back to Dar es Salaam, and then off to Zanzibar the next morning after a roundtable meeting with the Minister of Agricuture, State Minister for investment from the Office of the Prime Minister, and Permanent Secretaries from various ministries. In Zanzibar, we were hosted to a dinner by the second Vice President, Hon Seif Ali Idd. The following morning, we met the President of Zanzibar, HE Ali Mohammed Shein, who applauded IFAD for supporting Farmer Field Schools and said these were transforming rural subsistence farmers into commercial farmers. We then had a chance to visit the Farmer Field Schools. We visited the dairy FFS and the Cassava FFS.Farmers shared their experiences, opportunities, and challenges with members of the board.

Back to Dar es Salaam. There was a meeting with the officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, the Office of the Prime Minister, and private sector partners to discuss different policy initiatives such as Big Results Now (BRN), and Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGGOT). These have been put in place to boost agriculture and transform rural subsistence farmers into commercial ones.
All together, it was an unforgettable week for both the hosts and the guests, as a cross section of issues was covered – the implementation modalities of IFAD supported projects, the policy environment, and working in close collaboration with other UN agencies in country. The last meeting of the visit was with the Tanzania UN Country Team.
You can read about the #ifadeb visit in the press on these links: 1, 2, 3, 4. We shall share details of the discussions and field visits in the next blog on the #ifadeb visit.