Ending poverty and malnutrition in rural Africa – Transforming the Seed to Market vegetable value chain
Improving life of rural communities in Africa – through access to elite seeds, knowledge and markets
Fair Planet short video - Bridging the Seed Gap as a first step for improving the vegetables value chain from Seed to Market
Fair Planet developed a sustainable technology transfer methodology, which involves the identification of adapted high-quality varieties and implementation of a unique capacity building program. The program includes intensive training of local extension staff strengthened by multiple on-farm extension services to lead farmers throughout the crop season. This unique technology transfer is a win-win for all the vegetable value chain actors
Training teams are composed of Fair Planet experts and volunteers together with the local extension team of the Ministry of Agriculture. Each training team is visiting about 10 lead-farmers' fields a day. Four training teams, in each specific region, are able to visit 200 lead-farmers' fields on a weekly basis along the production season.
The results of the Ethiopian project can serve in future-casting the impact of the Tanzanian project. With access to high quality seeds and intensive on-farm training, trained farmers’ yields in Ethiopia increased dramatically (vs. national avg.): 5.6-fold in tomato, 3.8-fold in onion and 11-fold in hot pepper. This dramatic increase in productivity leads to a very high adoption rate of the technology by fellow farmers in the project intervention regions.
Nuri - a smallholder farmer in Butajira, Ethiopia, sells his tomatoes in the local market. Nuri was trained by Fair Planet and was able to increase his tomato yield more than 5 times due to using elite seeds and improved farming knowledge. The income from his small tomato plot doubled his annual income and enabled his family to exit the cycle of poverty
The impact of growing high-quality tomatoes, onions and hot-peppers on a 1000 m² plot, generated average profits of $550, $1,280 and $1,300, respectively. In just one growing season, the smallholder households' annual income increased from a baseline of $800 to $1350, and up to $2,100 (from x1.7-fold and up to x2.6-fold), depending on the crop. This dramatic increase in net-income leads to a very high adoption rate of the technology by fellow farmers in the project intervention regions.
The Butajira case - Mission accomplished.
The adoption rate of the technology in Butajira, Ethiopia, was extremely high: within 6 years, 90% of the Butajira region farmers (40,000 farmers) have shifted to using elite seeds in a sustainable manner and are selling their produce in regional and urban markets. The project also built the capacity of local trainers who continue to support their region's farmers and upscale the project's impact.
Farmers success stories - examples from Fair Planet Bridging the Seed Gap project in Ethiopia
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)- the leading agricultural university in Tanzania with a mission to promote development in agriculture. SUA has the interest and capacity to extend the project beyond the project term.
SUGECO - Small company - Cooperative of SUA Graduate Students - Its mission is to prepare, enable and support innovative entrepreneurs as they build successful businesses along agricultural and agribusiness value chains.
Enza Zaden and Sakata - Large Vegetable Seed Companies – They develop, produce, market & supply elite varieties worldwide. The project will have access to their huge collection of vegetable varieties and related know-how.
Farmster – Small Company. It developed a digital platform for connecting smallholder farmers to local buyers without requiring internet access. It helps farmers and buyers to connect with each other before harvest time. Farmers have a higher chance of finding a good price, and buyers save time and money.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Morogoro-Iringa in Tanzania.
The population is very poor and the region has high potential for production of high value vegetable crop
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Smallholder farmers in Tanzania have insufficient access to elite seeds and lack knowledge on good farming practices. Moreover, due to lack of know-how, poor infrastructure and low mobility, they are incapable of benefiting from the higher prices in regional and urban markets and the vegetable value chain is unorganized.
Tanzania's Morogoro -Iringa region was selected since its rural population is extremely poor. The region has the largest tomato production area in the country and is a potential area for production of high value crops. Vegetable production, dominated by smallholders, has enormous potential for reducing poverty by enhancing farmers' productivity and income, yet it is currently characterized by extremely low yields and income. This sector is labor-intensive, with strong forward and backward linkages, and has an extremely high potential for generating transformative improvements in the lives of people engaged in the vegetable value chain.
Fair Planet partnered with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, whose vision is to provide quality knowledge and skills and to promote development in agriculture through services to the public and private sectors. SUA will gain an opportunity to acquire and exchange experts' knowledge on elite seeds and optimize their use in the local environment. SUA will provide expertise and resources to the project (land, agricultural equipment and training facilities) help in developing the training and capacity building programs, provide links to the extensive network of extension officers of the Ministry of Agriculture who will train the local farmers, and assist in connecting the smallholder farmers with market information. SUGECO is a cooperative of SUA graduates with more than 600 members, 100+ of whom are engaged in agribusiness entrepreneurial activities countrywide. SUGECO will lead the outreach of the project and scale up its impact during the project and beyond.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Smallholder farmer in Morogoro growing local vegetables with basic spot irrigation. Tomato is the single most dominant vegetable crop in the country, followed by cabbage and onion. The current yields of these crops in the Morogoro-Iringa region are extremely low: 12 tons/ha for tomato; 8 tons/ha for cabbage and 2.3 tons/ha for onion, about 10% of yields achieved by smallholders in developed countries.
Vegetables sold at farm-gate - Morogoro
Tomato crop sold at farm-gate - Morogoro. Farmers get a low level price of 250 TZS / Kg for tomato
Smallholder farmers sell their fruits and vegetables in regional rural market. Prices are at medium level price of 400 TZS / Kg for tomato. The prices at high-end urban markets can reach 600 TZS / Kg for tomato
Tanzania administrative divisions - Morogoro and Iringa intervention regions
Site at Sokoine University where the professional and objective variety trials will be performed to identify the best performing vegetable varieties that fit the local agro-climate conditions and local farmers needs.
Sokoine University team and Fair Planet team - partners to the Tanzania Seed to Market value chain project
Tanzania has a population of about 55 Million. Albeit the high economic growth rates in recent years it is still one of the world's poorest economies in terms of per-capita income and the Tanzanian people are aspiring for prosperous future and good life.
Tanzania is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa. Despite this obstacle, ethnic divisions remained rare when compared to the rest of the continent.
Tanzanian cuisine varies by geographical region: along the coastal regions spicy foods with coconut milk are common and mainland typical foods include spicy rice, maize porridge, grilled meat, marinated fish and plantains with meat.
The youthful population (~60% under 25) is growing rapidly at 3% per year and the urban density is very high (30% of the population) and increasing due to population movement to cities. With 70% of the population still residing in rural areas, the issue of unlocking their productive potential remains a central concern for the country.
The economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for 25% of GDP and provides 85% of exports. Crop production accounts for 55% of agricultural GDP, livestock for 30%, and natural resources for 15% and the average farm size is only 1.2 ha. The agro-ecosystem is characterized by dry land and extreme rainfall variability, which limits productivity. The vast majority of the poor population that derives its livelihood from agriculture is vulnerable to weather-related shocks and this will get worse with climate changes.
Prevalent staple crops include maize, cassava, rice, sorghum, and millet. Tomato is the most dominant vegetable crop in the country, followed by cabbage and onion. The current yields of these crops in the Morogoro-Iringa region are extremely low: 12 tons/ha for tomato; 8 tons/ha for cabbage and 2.3 tons/ha for onion (Mutayoba (2018), about 10% of yields achieved by smallholders in developed countries. Rural and urban communities have low supply of these highly nutritional vegetables, which is one of the leading factors for malnutrition in Tanzania. Because of malnutrition’s impact on livelihoods and economies, the government of Tanzania has been strongly committed to ending malnutrition.
Vegetable farming is a knowledge intensive sub-sector of agriculture and vegetable farmers require a wide range of knowledge, skills and information. In order to attain the best possible productivity and income generation, farmers need access to high quality seeds and knowledge and need reliable advise for the most important on-farm decisions related to the use of seeds, agro-chemicals, irrigation, soil fertility, other production technologies and advise in market approach..
The project will build the capacity of the Tanzanian farmers to increase their productivity and income from vegetable farming and improve markets' value chains. This will lead to transformative improvement in rural communities' livelihood and the increased supply of nutritious vegetables will improve the diets of the growing Tanzanian rural and urban populations.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Smallholder farmers in Tanzania currently suffer from malnutrition and extreme poverty due to poor productivity and low income. Stunting (low height for age) occurs in 32% of children under age 5 and 30% of women of reproductive age are anaemic. 45% percent of the population is younger than 14, and that number is forecasted to rise. Half of the world’s population growth projected for 2050 will occur in only 9 countries, and Tanzania is one of them.
The negative impacts of poor nutrition, specifically stunting, on brain development in early life greatly diminishes a country’s human capital. As little as 1% loss in adult height from childhood stunting is associated with a 1.4% loss in national economic productivity. Given Tanzania’s booming youth population, improved nutrition, including access to nutritious vegetables, is crucial to Tanzania’s future prosperity.
According to the "Tanzania Horticulture Sector Outlook: Opportunities and Challenges” (Netherlands Min. of Economic Affairs, 2015) the majority of households engaged in horticulture grow a limited number of food crops for in-house consumption. Despite the growth in the Tanzanian economy and in the agriculture sector, little has translated to the rural household farmers, who still depend on rudimentary technologies and uncertain rainfall for their livelihood and food security.
Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture has recently highlighted factors that constrain potential for growth in the agriculture sector: availability of arable land, availability of agriculture inputs (seeds, fertilizers, chemicals) irrigation, mechanization and lack of research and extension services.
Most farmers in Tanzania have no direct access to knowledge centers like public institutes, literature and internet networks and many of them are illiterate. To address this gap, a network of knowledge should be developed using the existing network of the Ministry of Agriculture, local extension experts, Universities, agro-dealers, private sector experts, vocational institutes and NGO's. A basic level of knowledge is required and has to be tailored to the practical needs of these farmers in a way that the information can be easily taken up and used in their fields.
Yield gaps in Tanzania are attributed to diseases and pests, low yielding varieties, poor inputs, insufficient water and lack of fertilizers. Farmers do not have the financial capacity to buy elite seeds and therefore seed companies are reluctant to enter the market. A study by Mutayoba (2018) found that, in addition to limited input supply, lack of market information was the most important constraint for farmers and that profits differed significantly across the various marketing channels that farmers used. The study concluded that demand-driven emerging urban consumer preferences offer a huge potential for agricultural produce and that farmers' bargaining power can be improved if they have access to new varieties in order to adapt production systems to meet market demand.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Improving Seed to Market value chain
A World Bank study found that seeds are the most important ag-input and has a vast influence on farmers' yields (EBA2017-Rep.17). Therefore, making high quality elite seed varieties available to smallholder farmers, combined with training on how to produce better crops and improve their links to markets, will significantly enable them to exit the poverty cycle, while providing better access to nutritious vegetables to the growing population.
Fair Planet established alliances with 7 of the worlds' leading vegetables seed companies that provide Fair Planet access to their best varieties. Fair Planet carries out independent and professional variety trials to identify superior seed varieties that fit the local climatic conditions and farming practices. The best performing varieties are selected and made commercially available to local farmers through the partner seed companies for an affordable price.
The project in Tanzania will benefit from the successful methodologies developed by Fair Planet in Ethiopia, where it operates since 2012. Variety trials identified outstanding seed varieties that are highly adapted to local farmers' needs.
A unique training program was developed together with the Ministry of Agriculture, in which farmers receive weekly on-farm visits during the production season. More than 1.500 Lead Farmers from 200 villages, were trained how to improve their farming practices and links to markets. The adoption rate is extremely high: within 6 years, 90% of the Butajira region farmers (40,000 farmers) have shifted to using elite seeds and sell their produce in regional and urban markets. The project also built the capacity of 200 local trainers who continue to support their region's farmers and upscale the project's impact. Lead Farmers' yields increased more than 5-fold (vs. national avg.). Many of them generated profits that doubled their annual income. The sustainable increase in income generation allows the farmers to provide their families with better livelihood.
The Morogoro-Iringa project will focus on smallholders, who have insufficient access to high quality seeds and lack knowledge on improved farming practices. Due to lack of know-how and poor infrastructure, they are incapable of benefiting from higher prices in urban markets. The project aims to address the whole vegetable value chain, from Seed to Market, thus enabling smallholder farmers to produce high yields of good quality and benefit from higher market prices. This will lead to a profound change of the whole vegetables value chain: all its actors will benefit from sustainable increase in income and will be able to improve their families' livelihood, and the local population will benefit from increased availability of nutritious vegetables-based diets.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The results of the Ethiopian project can serve in future-casting the impact of the Tanzanian project. In Ethiopia, Lead Farmers’ yields increased dramatically (vs. national avg.): 5.6-fold in tomato, 3.8-fold in onion and 11-fold in hot pepper. Growing high-quality tomatoes, onions and peppers on a 1000m² plot, generated profits of $550, $1,280 and $1,300, respectively. In just one growing season, the households' annual income increased from a baseline of $800 to $1350, and up to $2,100 (from x1.7-fold and up to x2.6-fold), depending on crop. Sales of elite tomato and pepper seedlings by local nurseries increased from 11 to 113 Million in 4 years. This 10-fold increase show that the private sector is serving the growing demand on the supply side, while farmers reported success in marketing their fresh produce to markets.
The dramatic improvement in household income has profoundly changed the livelihood of the farmers: families' nutrition has improved; school attendance of children has risen significantly and income gains enabled farmers to make independent decisions and investments to achieve sustainable economic growth.
The Seed to Market project in Tanzania will implement the components of the Ethiopian project with an addition of a digital marketing platform developed by Farmster for connecting farmers and buyers before harvest. It enables farmers without internet to use AI-driven SMS Chatbot to publish information about their upcoming harvests without buying smartphones and buyers with smartphones to find suppliers using an App. It will enable farmers to sell their produce to high end markets, enabling the purchase of improved seeds for the next season, and thus further improving their capacity to gain sustainable income.
We are confident that the Seed to Market project will significantly improve the livelihood of the Tanzanian farmers and their families. It will improve their nutrition, education level, and allow them to achieve sustainable economic growth.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Farmers sell their high-quality produce in the markets
Farmers sell their high-quality produce in regional markets. Prices are expected to increase from the farm-gate low level price of 250 TZS / Kg to a medium level price of 400 TZS / Kg. The net-income of farmers producing tomatoes from elite seeds while implementing improved farming practices and marketing their high-quality produce to regional markets is expected to increase 4-fold.
Sales of high quality vegetable and fruits at high-end markets. The net-income of farmers producing tomatoes from elite seeds while implementing improved farming practices and marketing their quality produce to high-end markets is expected to increase 8-fold.
A Food System approach - developing the whole Seed to Market vegetable value chain - benefits for all the stakeholders:: smallholder farmers, seed companies and agro-input dealers, transplant producers and an emerging distribution and retail sector of fresh and nutritious vegetables. It will lead to better access to nutritious vegetables to the regional and urban communities.
Current situation - Economic performance of farmers when using local seeds and local farming practices: Tomato yield is 10 ton/ha from a plot of 1,000 m2. Sale prices at farm-gates are low (250 TZH per 1 Kg. tomato) and the net-income of farmers pre-intervention is only162,000 TZS ($ 71) .
Scenario 2 - Economic performance of farmers when using elite seeds and improved farming practices: Tomato yield is tripled to 30 ton/ha from a plot of 1,000 m2. . Sale prices at regional markets are at medium level of 400 TZH per 1 Kg. tomato. The net-income of farmers increases to 660,000 TZS ($ 290).
Scenario 3 - Economic performance of farmers when using elite seeds and farming practices: Tomato yield is tripled to 30 ton/ha from a plot of 1,000 m2. Sale prices at high-end markets are at high level of 600 TZH per 1 Kg. tomato. The net-income of farmers increases to 660,000 TZS ($ 594)
Fair Planet's vision is to end poverty and malnutrition in rural Africa by transforming the vegetable Seed to Market value chain. Access to elite seeds, knowledge on good agricultural practices and well-organized links to regional and urban markets will improve the livelihood of the rural communities and the people engaged in the vegetables value chain while providing better access to nutritious vegetables to the rural and urban communities.
Fair Planet has demonstrated in Ethiopia that enhancing farmers' productivity leads to improved income that can reduce poverty. Since vegetable production is a labor-intensive sector, with strong forward and backward linkages, it has significant potential for transforming the whole vegetable value chain and improving the livelihood of the rural community as a whole.
Our vision for the Morogoro-Iringa region is that every rural, agriculture-dependent family, will produce high quality vegetable crops and sell them at high-end markets, pushing the whole value chain forward. All the people engaged in this sector will be lifted from poverty, will benefit from improved nutrition and reach sustainable economic growth.
The use of elite seeds is the most important element in increasing agricultural production in any farming system and has a vast influence on food availability. Access to seeds becomes extremely crucial for providing sufficient food for the fast growing world population (in particular in Africa) which is forecasted to reach 10 billion by 2050, potentially increasing the demand for food between 60 to 100%. High yielding varieties adapted to production sites are key to achieving this enormous increase in such a short time.
The development and production of elite seeds are the cornerstones of all successful seed companies. Fair Planet has established alliances with 7 of the worlds' leading seed companies (Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Limagrain, Sakata, Enza Zaden and East-West Seed) that provide Fair Planet access to their best seed varieties. The support of the seed companies to the Fair Planet's initiative is a matter of corporate social responsibility and an opportunity to develop their activities in Africa on an integrated basis with local business partners.
Fair Planet developed a unique and sustainable capacity building technology, which involves the identification of adapted high-quality varieties from global seed companies and implementation of a capacity building program. The program includes training of local extension staff strengthened by multiple on-farm extension services to lead farmers, throughout the crop season. This unique technology opens new markets for the seed companies, which they can hardly develop on their own in terms of manpower and budget. Fair Planet is closing this gap and the win-win model that it developed lays the foundation for creating sustainable businesses for all the value chain stakeholders: smallholder farmers, seed companies and agro-input dealers, transplant producers and an emerging distribution and retail sector of fresh and nutritious vegetables.
In Tanzania, the experts of Fair Planet and SUA University will identify the needs of the Tanzanian smallholder farmers and define a crop Product Profile that will be shared with the partner seed companies. Seed companies' experts will identify a short-list of vegetable varieties that may fit the local needs. The project will carry out independent variety trials to identify superior seed varieties that fit the climatic conditions and local farming practices, and select the best performing seed varieties. Partner seed companies will register the selected varieties, and eventually, will provide a sustainable supply of seeds to smallholder farmers through local distributors.
Access to elite seeds combined with on-farm training, will significantly increase farmers' productivity and income, while providing better access to nutritious vegetables to the regional and urban communities.
Fair Planet demonstrated in Ethiopia that smallholder farmers clearly understand the economic benefits of improved seeds and are adopting them at a very fast rate. The fast adoption rate stimulates the seed companies to develop and introduce ever better varieties, generating a sustainable business model across the vegetable value chain. Based on our experience in Ethiopia and cautious predictions, the new market segment in Tanzania will be highly attractive to the seed industry, thus ensuring sustainable supply and distribution of improved seeds to millions of local farmers in rural Tanzania.
Smallholder farmers in Tanzania are mainly subsistence farmers. Those growing some surplus for local markets generally achieve low yields with low quality, thus, generating low income. When transforming from local farming practices to improved seeds and cultivation practices, the average tomato yield is expected to increase from 10 ton/ha, to 30 ton/ha, and produce quality is expected to improve.
During the project we expect a gradual shift from on-farm sales to regional markets and then partially to high-end markets.
When selling the crop yields with better quality to regional markets, prices are expected to increase from the on-farm low level price of 250 TZS/Kg to a medium level price of 400 TZS/Kg. The net-income of farmers marketing to regional markets is expected to increase 4-fold, from 162,000 TZS ($ 71) to 660,000 TZS ($ 290) from a plot of 1,000m2. Upon establishing links of smallholder farmers to high-end markets, the impact on the farmers' net-income is expected to be even better: the price in these markets is expected to be higher (600 TZS/Kg) and the net-income potential increases 8-fold, from 162,000 TZS ($71) to 1,356,000 TZS ($ 594) from a plot of 1,000 m2 (see full economic analysis in tables-images).
Based on our Ethiopian project, we do not expect the increased supply to have negative impact on market prices in the mid-term. To avoid long-term negative effects of surplus, the project will encourage farmers to diversify income sources.
The project will augment the commercial activities of all local actors involved in the vegetables Seed to Market value chain, from ag-input suppliers to fresh produce traders (local SMEs, Unions, Coops, etc.) and will provide ample opportunities to young ag-entrepreneurs.
From our experience in Ethiopia, trained smallholder farmers are willing to invest in high-quality seeds and other ag-inputs, in order to gain sustainable high net-income from their small vegetable plots.
Use of improved and climate resilient vegetable varieties (adapted to heat and drought or harsh rainy-season conditions) will reduce the increasing risks from climate change to smallholder farmers, who rely on vegetable crop production in unprotected environments (open field production).
Our vision is to substantially reduce the application of agro-chemicals by smallholder farmers in Africa. The project will implement integrated pest and disease management practices by: (a) introducing multi-resistant vegetable varieties; (b) teaching farmers to monitor the level of pests and diseases in their fields in order to apply crop protection chemicals only when the pests and diseases' populations reach economic damage threshold levels; (c) guiding on safe use of chemicals. These practices will reduce contamination caused by over-use of agro-chemicals, thereby reducing contamination of air, soil, underground water reservoirs, rivers and drinking water, eventually protecting both the environment and the population.
Improved soil fertility management will lead to sustainable farm management. Water becomes scarce in many regions of Tanzania (and Africa) due to climate change, and improved water management and water saving technologies will increase water use efficiency. Increasing vegetable productivity and water use efficiency will reduce the amount of water needed to produce fresh vegetables. Teaching farmers how to avoid soil degradation and how to optimize fertilizer use, will increase nutrient use efficiency. Altogether, the project will contribute to resource efficiency on the farms.
There is a severe shortage of affordable and nutritious fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes onion and cabbage, both in rural and in urban markets in Tanzania. Training smallholder farmers how to produce these crops from high quality seeds while implementing good agricultural practices will increase their yields, which will Increase the availability of these nutritious vegetables in the markets. This will lead to improvement of the nutrition value of the rural and urban population diets. Income generation of farmers and value chain actors will increase, leading to reduction of poverty, improved nutrition security and better livelihood for the rural communities in the intervention regions.
The national identity in Tanzania is influenced by several factors. One of the most important integrating forces is the use of the national lingua franca - Swahili, a language spoken by nearly all Tanzanians. Swahili is a compulsory subject in schools, and some 83%of the population are literate. Both the symbolic and practical cornerstone of Tanzanian socialism was ujamaa, a Swahili word meaning "family". The core structure of ujamaa is the traditional extended family and clan structure of most ethnic groups, which provides a framework for mutual assistance and cooperation. This culture of sharing new knowledge will facilitate a high adoption rate of our intervention.
The Tanzanian Minister for Agriculture, meeting with Fair Planet on 9 Sep 2019, stated that "the project is in line with the priorities of the Fifth government to increase productivity and yields in the field of horticulture. The project will raise the production of vegetables and hence contribute to poverty reduction in Tanzania".
The project is fully aligned with the Tanzania National 5 Year Development Plan 2016/17–2020/21
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