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Monday, January 17, 2011


Geoff Q-B has been working in East Africa, in Tanzania and Kenya looking at development possibilities funded by USAID. Part of this work has been to prepare a full Agricultural Assessment of Tanzania that covers every sub-sector and provides guidance for where development funds are likely to go.

Geoff also undertook a trip by road from Nairobi across the international border at Namanga and then past Mounts Meera and Kilimanjaro to Arusha which is the centre of agribusiness in the North of Tanzania. Here's an excerpt from his report:

"The outward trip from Nairobi took 6 hours leaving at 12 noon in a rented Toyota Hilux. The road is adequate. Probably 60 percent completed on both sides of the border, where the Chinese contractors have done their work there is a reasonable two-lane road. Not being a roads engineer I hesitate to pass judgement, but I suspect the overall standard of work is not high; in some place the hard shoulder had already subsided and for much of the new road the drainage seemed inadequate. In the places where the work is on-going, we drove on compacted dirt roads which have not been well maintained either in Tanzania or Kenya (indeed there is no discernible difference between the road – which is the main North-South Highway- in either country). A 4X4 is necessary and I would recommend a slightly more comfortable vehicle than a Hilux.

The border crossing point at Namanga took 2 hours to negotiate on the outward journey. This was due to exit paperwork for the car being processed. Visas were very easy and I was not charged either by Tanzania or Kenya for the entry stamps. The return crossing took less than one hour (because the vehicle was from Kenya)."

Once at Arusha, Geoff met up with Dominick Ringo , Director, Research, Community and Organisational Development Associates (RECODA).

Dominick and Geoff visited one of the smallhoders that RECODA is supporting with funds from the Danish Rockwool Foundation. This farmer (see photo) is one of a local group of 35 farmers that have adopted a model farm approach developed by RECODA. The approximate project fund is $450,000 and the total number of beneficiaries in the project is 400 ($1,125 per farm family). After stakeholder consultations including the district authorities, the project provides a ‘shopping list” of different crops and crop mixes for choice by the farmer. The project provides technical advice, parent livestock (goats and chickens) and seedling (mainly banana). No other subsidies are provided, however the project works closely with the beneficiary on implementation and disseminates the lessons learned throughout the community.

Here's what Geoff reported:

"I was very impressed by the approach (which RECODA is in process of evaluating formally and providing written information about). Of course the farm I was taken to see could have been unique, but I did not form this impression, in any event Dominick Ringo said he could provide all the basic data I needed if I wished to check. The farmer (and his wife) was clearly delighted with the project that had helped them develop a one hectare commercial banana plantation. In addition they grew cassava and had chickens and goats."

Clearly some development projects do work and not necessarily with the huge amounts of money that the major donors seem to require. Well done RECODA!

Note: this assignment was undertaken on behalf of International Relief & Development (IRD)

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