Diagnostic study on performance of participatory farmer groups (PFGS) model for banana – coffee cropping system in the DASIP supported areas
District Agricultural Sector Investment Project (DASIP)
Agriculture occupies a very important role in the lives of Tanzanians as well the national economy. It employs about 75 percent of the population and it accounts for 95 percent of the food consumed in the country (Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives - MAFS, 2012). In spite of the fact that agriculture is an important sector and the backbone of the national economy in Tanzania, it has failed to improve the livelihood of the rural people whose major occupation is agriculture. 1 Low productivity; under-utilization of the available land, water and human resources as well as low incomes and profitability due to poor agricultural practices, have remained the key features of agriculture in the country. Some of the key challenges include the lack of access to support services, continued dependence on rain fed agriculture, poor rural infrastructure, limited capital and access to financial services, lack of investment incentives in agriculture, weak producer organizations and institutional constraints (ibid). In an attempt to address these challenges, the Government of Tanzania (GoT), through a loan and grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) is implementing a six year project namely: the District Agricultural Sector Investment Project (DASIP) starting from January, 2006. The overall aim of this project is to increase productivity and incomes of rural households in the project area within the overall framework of the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDP). DASIP is implemented in 28 rural districts in Kagera, Kigoma, Mara, Mwanza and Shinyanga regions. The Project has three field components and one project management component namely project coordination. The first field component deals with building the capacity of the project districts to train Participatory Farmer Groups (PFGs) through participatory adult education methods. The PFG members are trained in technical, organizational and management of their enterprises. The Terms of Reference (ToR) for the consultancy indicate that, about 11,000 PFGs will be formed by the end of the project life with each group constituting 25 members on average. The second field component deals with issues related to community planning and investment in agriculture. It aims at building capacity of project districts to plan, manage and monitor village and district agricultural development plans. In 28 project districts and 780 villages the projects supports the preparation and implementation of the District Agricultural Development Plans (DADPs) and Village Agricultural Development Plans (VADPs) respectively. The project supports 1,951 agriculture-related investments such as; constructions of cattle dip tanks, agricultural technologies; storage facilities, market places, market access infrastructure and water harvesting structures for livestock and irrigation of crops. The third field component deals with supports related to rural micro-finance and marketing. Specifically, the component aims at strengthening about 84 Savings and Credit Co-operatives Societies (SACCOS) in all the project districts. It is anticipated that, by the end of the project, 90 percent of target SACCOS will be able to maintain a repayment rate of 95 percent and more than 60 percent of SACCOS will be linked with agro processing facilities and marketing associations. Under this component, the project is also expected to establish a well functioning marketing system that will serve farmers in all the project districts. The project coordination component deals with the day-to-day co-ordination and management of project activities. The Project Coordination Unit (PCU) which is based in Mwanza is responsible for coordinating Project activities and ensuring all project resources are managed prudently. Few issues need to be underlined concerning the overall performance of the project. Firstly, the project has trained a total of 11,150 PFGs on improved agronomy practices, business plans, mini projects and later supported them with mini-grants however; the performance of PFGs obtaining training and mini-grants varies among PFGs. It is important that a comprehensive assessment of reasons behind variations be done in order to inform the process of successful attainment of the project objectives and sustainability. Secondly, the project through its Community Planning and Investment in Agriculture component, has to date funded a total of 1,951 micro-projects and agricultural technologies with 1,229 being infrastructure projects and 722 agricultural technology projects. While it was anticipated that all the completed projects or infrastructures would be utilized by the communities; only sixty percent are utilized. There are various factors that may have influenced or hindered the utilization of these infrastructures by communities and it is also important that these factors are studied. Variations were also observed among PFGs and target communities at large in terms of crop yield and livestock productivity, incomes, access to extension services, training, adoption of improved farming practices, use of farm implements, PFG membership and management of PFGs and community projects. Yet, the reasons behind these variations are not known with certainty.
Diagnostic study, Participatory farmer groups, District Agricultural Sector Investment Project, Banana - Coffee Cropping System