The Norwegian government has made headlines in the past few days, seeking more involvement with African economies. Norway is so far the only Nordic country to have borne good news with Tanzania, unlike Denmark that threatened to withhold $9.8 million financial aid following anti-gay comments from Tanzania official. The East African country has suffered criticisms from Western donors as well who are monitoring Tanzania’s stand on human rights issues.
Norwegian government and UN World Food Programme (WFP) recently penned a $3 million deal to finance Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA). FtMA is a public-private sector consortium of eight agri-focused organisations formed to make markets work better for farmers. The project helps smallholder farmers receive relevant information, investment and support from seed to market, so they can produce and sell marketable surplus and increase their income, cited by WFP.
Visiting Norwegian minister responsible for International Development Nikolai Astrup signed the agreement on behalf of his country, while Australian-born UN WFP Country Director Michael Dunford inked on behalf of WFP. Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Omar Mugumba was present at the signing ceremony held at Yara Fertiliser Terminal in Dar es Salaam.
In 2013, Norwegian chemical firm Yara International announced its investment plans in Tanzania with an establishment of a $20 million fertiliser plant to tap into the business opportunity of increased demand from the farmers. The facility would enable farmers to purchase fertilisers at pocket-friendly prices and boost their productivity.
The agriculture sector is a crucial industry in Tanzania with a high potential to drive the industrial growth to necessitate the country’s Vision 2025 of becoming a middle-income economy. President John Magufuli’s stewardship in the fifth phase government has brought about positive changes such as anti-corruption measures, a working business regulatory framework to attract investors and support the local sector.
As the backbone of the economy, agriculture is a source of employment to over 70 per cent of the poor population in rural areas, contributing as well to the national GDP. Among the crops the country produces are coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, maize, bananas and tobacco. There have been challenges of food security with adverse climatic conditions and lack of technology that has hampered the growth of the sector and farmers.
In his speech, the Norwegian Minister observed that ” To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to create new, innovative and dynamic partnerships. We need to break down the barriers that hinder cooperation across sectors. Reducing poverty and malnutrition, fomenting economic growth and achieving food security requires joint action.”
“Norwegian development collaboration with Tanzania goes back more than fifty years. The Norwegian government has supported agricultural development in this country, including through research, higher education, knowledge development among farmers and the SAGCOT initiative,” he added.
The Nordic official met with President Magufuli to discuss Norway – Tanzania relations. He also took part in the Blue Economy conference held in Nairobi, Kenya.