Nelly Bassily | May 4, 2009
Susuma Susuma has seen changes to local markets. The markets in Tanzania’s Morogoro District used to brim with local fabrics. Now they are filled with imported clothing. He doesn’t want to see the same thing happen to the food market.Mr. Susuma is a spokesperson for Tanzania’s National Small-Scale Farmers Network, also known as MVIWATA. Many of the country’s small-scale farmers grow maize to sell locally. But MVIWATA is worried that a proposed trade agreement will open local markets to European food. They fear this will force local maize off the shelves.
Farmers from MVIWATA recently sat down with the parliamentary committee that deals with trade. As part of a larger coalition, they asked the government to reject an Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe. The agreement would remove tariffs on European food entering Tanzania.
In exchange, Tanzania would be free to export food into Europe. But Mr. Susuma says this is not a good deal for Tanzania. He maintains that European farmers are well-subsidized and well-equipped to export food. Tanzania’s farmers cannot produce the quantity or quality of food to compete.
Many African countries are in the process of negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements, or EPAs, with Europe. The talks have given rise to protests by farmers and civil society. Mr. Susuma says it’s difficult for farmers to be heard – so they must shout and shout to get the message across.