TANZANIA – The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Women have launched a five-year programme dubbed Accelerating Progress Towards Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment project in Tanzania.

Funded by Norway and Sweden, the US$5 million project will benefit more than 8,000 rural women in Singida, Dodoma and Zanzibar by helping to secure their livelihoods, through resilience, in the agriculture sector.

In Tanzania, food is produced by smallholder farmers, with women accounting for the majority of the labour force and earning 80 percent of their income from subsistence farming.

Unfortunately, gender inequalities rooted in discriminatory patriarchal systems and social norms hinder women from accessing agricultural extension services, markets, land and formal financial services.

Speaking at the launch, Honourable Suleiman Masoud Makame, Minister of Blue Economy and Fisheries said, “Gender equality is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Tanzania recognises this and has adopted policies that advance gender equality.

“As a government we recognise and appreciate the continued partnership by the UN in Tanzania to support our efforts towards advancing gender equality especially in the agriculture sector. This joint programme by FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women is a demonstration of this continued support.”

The programme will build women’s capacity on climate smart agriculture to respond to climate crisis challenges which disproportionately affect women due to their reduced access to agricultural resources, lack of decision-making authority and weak adaptation strategies.

“It is clear that rural women are facing a number of challenges that are impacting their ability to increase their productivity and incomes.

“We need to step up our support both now and into the future to help address these challenges and support rural women’s pathways to progress,” said Sima Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women. 

Project to facilitate financial knowledge transfer

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the agricultural sector and local food systems through restricted market access and increased costs of inputs.

The project will provide business development, leadership training and access to markets for self-help groups, by supporting existing and new Village Savings and Loans Associations to become officially registered and access financing.

Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP Country Director and Representative, on behalf of the implementing agencies said, “The launch of this joint programme is timely as it comes at a time when the agriculture sector is faced by a myriad of challenges.

“The collaboration between the four UN agencies – FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women, brings together specialist expertise in agriculture, rural development and gender that are key to addressing the challenges and building resilience. The time for action is now.”

The project in Tanzania is part of the second phase of a global programme also being implemented in Nepal, Niger, the Pacific Island and Tunisia. The first phase of the programme was launched in 2014 in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda.

TRC, WFP partner in horticulture cold chain services

In other related news, the WFP and Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) have embarked on a new partnership in rail cold chain transportation solutions for horticultural products.

Under this initiative, WFP and TRC will introduce cold chain services to facilitate a supply system for horticulture products from production to consumers through transportation, storage, retail services and distribution.

At this early stage, the initiative will cover the regions of Dodoma and Dar es Salaam where horticulture products will be transported between the two regions.

The aim of the project is to address food losses that occur in the horticulture sector across the supply chain, pre and post-harvest, including during packaging, handling and transportation.

The project dubbed Cold Chain Development for Agricultural Marketing, will also link smallholder producers and aggregators to markets including retailers, food processors, and exporters, thus strengthening the retail market of fresh and nutritious products.

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