Most of Tanzanian smallholder farmers rely solely on rain-fed agriculture. During drought seasons their harvests are severely compromised and many fail to produce impacting the supply of key crops like maize in the neighbouring countries. The frequency of droughts has increased significantly in the recent years and the absence of crop insurance in the country puts farmers at high risk. Poor post-harvest storage structures, inadequate access to quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and limited access to crop markets all result in low farming incomes, further undermined by problems in accessing credit for agricultural production and marketing. At the same time, buyers, input providers, financial and insurance markets are seeking increased and structured engagement with smallholder farmers while limited with the tools to address the associated risks to engage at scale.
The systemic problems faced by smallholders in Tanzania prompted the first and largest FtMA operation currently in East Africa. FtMA Tanzania intends to engage the key industry stakeholders to deliver a full set of services across the maize value chain and selected legume crops. To increase farmers resilience to extreme weather conditions and pest attacks, FtMA has piloted a tailored weather insurance product linked to farmer input loans and facilitates access to other existing crop insurance products. Input ordering and loan application processes are streamlined through electronic software designed specifically by FtMA for the purpose of developing the capabilities of farmers. Challenges around contract compliance, such as side selling by farmers, delayed payment by buyers and maize export bans affecting market prices, are being addressed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.