Interview with Charles Ogutu, Managing Director of the Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT).
Q: When was the Agricultural Markets Development Trust founded and for what purpose?
A: Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) was founded in 2014 after a series of reflections on how best to bet to meet the challenges of the continuous market system for the agricultural sector.
She then received official registration in 2015 under the Trust Act. The idea is to bring development to people in a more sustainable way.
The Trust’s mission is to trigger large-scale systemic changes in agricultural market systems that are essential for the productive poor in the agricultural sector.
In practice, this means that the Trust’s intervention aims to unlock the challenges of market systems that hamper the full participation and good incomes of small farmers, thereby increasing their incomes and creating more jobs.
Why was the Agricultural Market Development Fund created? Tanzania’s desire to transform into a middle-income economy hinges on agricultural growth. Therefore, the fundamental reason for the establishment of the Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) was to contribute to poverty reduction by increasing the incomes of small farmers and creating jobs at all levels within the communities. different value chains.
How then does the Trust carry out its mandate?
A: In doing so, the Trust plays a facilitating role / function to influence how public and private market actors respond to obstacles encountered in certain agricultural markets and then catalyze efforts that improve coordination and investment.
It should be noted that the Trust was also established as a long-term mechanism that would address challenges that other programs had not been able to meet in a sustainable manner.
Thus, its existence stimulates market systems to open up opportunities for small farmers and SMEs in selected value chains.
What are AMDT’s value chains and priorities for the agricultural sector? The selection of the AMDT value chain is only an entry point. And the entrance is guided by several indicators and frames. These include the existence of systemic challenges that need to be addressed.
Key to this is the expected number of people (the productive poor) who can be involved in or benefit from any of the interventions that our resources will benefit from.
We are currently working in three cultivation sectors. These value chains are sunflower, corn and pulses. Other priority activities include improving the enabling business environment by supporting evidence-based policies and advocacy initiatives and the integration of women and youth which should be mainstreamed into all of our intervention portfolios.
What is the fundamental difference between your approach to market systems and other value chain development methodologies?
A: Simply put, a market systems approach goes beyond engaging particular actors in the value chain and paves the way for meaningful participation of the productive poor in the system as a whole. ‘actors.
This approach examines large-scale impact with lasting results. On the other hand, value chain development interventions are more often focused on how to improve the value of products at all levels without necessarily focusing on the participation of the poor in production or on a large-scale and lasting impact.
In today’s Tanzania, how can you convince the rural poor to work in agriculture, instead of, say, fighting for blue and white jobs in big cities?
The best way to engage poor rural women, men and youth in agriculture is to address their most critical challenges in their farming businesses.
That is, by addressing constraining constraints such as the availability and timely access to yield-enhancing inputs, addressing product market challenges and optimizing access to finance in a more efficient manner. sustainable.
You have several offers and solutions for farmers; please explain in detail how they work
A: The program provides opportunities for smallholder farmers through its co-facilitators and market actors. Our solutions and offerings are based on the exact system constraints which, if addressed, the system would work freely for small farmers.
Solutions could be to facilitate access to affordable agricultural finance – in this way, producers can then access input loans, insurance programs, the market, agricultural labor, including labor-saving and women-friendly technologies, to name a few.
What other projects are you currently carrying out? What future projects do you envision?
The program is currently implementing a number of projects with its key partners, including market facilitators (co-facilitators in around seven regions.
We have two ongoing projects in corn value chains, five projects in sunflower value chains and three projects in pulse value chain.
Other strategic projects are with the Ministry of Agriculture and they aim to facilitate access to high-yielding and affordable varieties of sunflower seeds, an intervention with which we are working with TARI.
Ilonga and Capacity Building of Public Extension Services that we work directly with the Ministry of Agriculture in particular the Directorate of Training, Extension Services and Research.
Our future plans are determined by our results management systems which are consistent with the globally accepted Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) standard for measuring results.
This results-based internal monitoring system helps us determine which projects can be scaled up from the pilot, replicated and which can operate without our support. But also, future demands of the country help determine our next course of projects.
What challenges are you currently facing and how do you overcome them?
A: The main challenge for the program at the moment is that its phase I ends in June of next year. The real challenge is therefore the funding of the Phase II program. To meet this challenge, the management team, in collaboration with other governing bodies, including the Program Investment Committee (PIC), which includes donors, is working on the strategy to rally other donors. of funds. Internally, we are also improving our systems and processes to make the program more mature and take on more roles.
How do you raise money to do what you do?
The Agricultural Market Development Fund was created with a common fund from its founders (DENMARK, SWITZERLAND, IRELAND AND SWEDEN) on the basis of a bilateral agreement with the government.
Phase I of the program ends in June 2022 and plans are underway to work with current funders and other new funders to pave the way for its second phase which is expected to run from July 2022 to July 2027. .
If you are just a facilitator, then who does the fieldwork and how do you identify them?
AMDT as a Trust was meant to be the market facilitator and works with the co-facilitators (market facilitators), market actors and government to make the desired changes in the market systems that we choose to go through.
Under this reality lies the fact that the market facilitator and the co-facilitators are not the actors of the market ecosystems in which we operate. Therefore, the actual fieldwork is carried out by market actors and productive smallholder farmers. Our role is to facilitate the establishment of this relationship between economic agents and thus to create businesses between and among them. In terms of identifying these co-facilitators, we conduct competitive processes in accordance with the requirements of our established policies and on the basis of international best practices.
Responsibility for identifying market players is vested in the co-facilitators.
Our work with government is often based on consultations between the department / agency and the Trust on a case-by-case basis.
What do you consider to be a key achievement since you started working? The Agricultural Markets Development Trust prides itself on being the main strategic ally of the country’s agricultural sector. Since our inception, we have first facilitated the introduction of hybrid sunflower seeds into the country together with our partners such as Quality Food Products Ltd and Sunflower Development Company (SDC).
Some of the hybrid sunflower seed varieties introduced by the program, including Hysun 33, high in oleic acid (Anciella) and Agwara 4, are currently sold in the markets.
Second, we have facilitated and promoted pro-poor contractual arrangements between processors and smallholder farmers in the sunflower, corn and pulse value chains.
And thirdly, we have worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to undertake important initiatives for the country, including ambitiously undertaking a major initiative to support TARI Ilonga with the multiplication and production of basic sunflower seeds and improved base by integrating local seed companies and supporting the Ministry of Agriculture to improve the quality of public extension services by financing the costs of the retraining program for extension workers in around 11 regions, 38 district councils reaching a handful of ‘approximately 1,020 extension workers.