Nelly Bassily | September 6, 2010
In the past, farmers in King’ori village, Meru District, northern Tanzania, received low prices for their maize. One reason was the poor condition of their warehouse. This meant that they could not store grain while waiting for prices to rise. Now, the newly renovated building carries the hopes of farmers like Mr. Ndetainya Nnko, who says, “Since farmers can store maize … for the coming seasons I expect to double production of maize.”
Hendry Mziray is the coordinator of Tanzania Agricultural Partnership, or TAP, for Meru District. When he saw the warehouse in King’ori village, he spotted a chance to turn waste into opportunity. The warehouse is owned by the villagers. It needed fewer repairs than other warehouses in the district. Mr. Mziray says the spirit of the residents was also encouraging: “This community was different. They were ready to move.”
Mr. Mziray found a willing public sector partner in the District Agriculture and Livestock Development Officer, or DALDO. Dr. Amani Sanga is acting DALDO of Meru District. He says, “Renovating King’ori warehouse through a public-private partnership was an opportunity to us. We had a chance to show that we can deliver.” DALDO topped up the budget Mziray received from the Tanzania Agricultural Partnership. The residents of King’ori contributed with sand, wood and labour.
By harvest time in 2009, the warehouse was ready. It was soon storing half of its capacity, holding 71 tons of maize. In the meantime, Mr. Mziray had set up another partnership with FERT, a French NGO working to strengthen Tanzania’s network of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies, or SACCOS.
Within a month of their meeting, FERT had trained the leaders of King’ori’s SACCOS how to run warehouse receipt systems, and offered loans on stored grain. “It was a good opportunity and it was easy,” says FERT’s Marina Abboud. A warehouse receipt system is now in place. In this arrangement, a farmer receives a receipt for depositing their crop in a warehouse. This receipt can then be used to secure a loan.
Mr. Philip. P. Nanyaro, a farmer in King’ori, says, “I thought that the establishment of a warehouse receipt system is the only solution which will enable smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods by getting better returns from selling maize when prices are good.”
Finding the right buyer for the stored grain has been challenging. A potential deal with the World Food Programme, under their Purchase for Progress initiative, fell through. The SACCOS had to sell the grain at a much lower price than they had hoped for. Mr. Rejael J. Nnko is SACCOS’ Chairman. He says, “To rescue the situation, SACCOS removed the interest rate and storage cost.” He says that SACCOS and FERT decided to top up the selling price so that farmers received a small profit. They are now looking for other markets and tendering opportunities.
Despite this setback, the farmers are satisfied with the warehouse. They also appreciate the partnership approach, and the transparency this brings to the process. “[The] Establishment of a warehouse receipt system by TAP in collaboration with King’ori SACCOS, FERT and Meru district council has significant impact to King’ori community,” says Mrs. Martha E. Palanjo, a farmer.