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Scottish Boost for Small-Scale Farmers in Tanzania

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

18th Jun 2012

Like so many small-scale farmers in Tanzania, successive droughts have devastated Asia Pascal's rice paddy.

As a single mother of four children, her ability to care for and feed her family is severely restricted when drought affects her crops.

Asia, who is 48 and lives in Mbogwe District, is quick to adopt new and improved farming practices but her best efforts have been swept aside by extreme weather.

She said: "I depend on farming. It's my source of income and the only way I can look after my children and pay for them to go to school and get an education."

Oxfam is working with farmers like Asia to improve their access to drought-tolerant rice seeds and to develop their collective marketing skills.

It has now been announced this work will benefit from £1.3m in new funding over three years from the Scottish Government's International Development Fund.

The move came on the eve of the Scottish Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson's attendance at Rio +20 - the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in Brazil.

The conference - known as the Earth Summit - begins on Wednesday.

Mr Stevenson said: "Scotland is well aware of its responsibilities to the wider world and we know that it is some of the world's most vulnerable people in Sub Saharan Africa that are dealing with the harsh realities of climate change.

"I am delighted to announce this latest support from the International Development Fund as a sign of our commitment to helping alleviate poverty in the developing world and to empowering vulnerable communities to deal with effects of climate change."

The main objective of Oxfam's work in Tanzania is to improve the income and quality of life for more than one million rural small-holder producers, predominantly women, by 2017.

The Scottish Government funding will help establish a Warehouse Receipt System to enable farmers to store their produce and sell it when the prices are good - instead of immediately after harvest when the prices slump.

Existing warehouses will be renovated to provide storage facilities with farmers organised and trained to manage them.

The funding will also pay for rice seed which requires less water ensuring that, even in years of less rain, farmers can still have a reasonable production of rice, making food more secure.

Finally, the funding will help mitigate the effects of drought by paying for the introduction and renovation of irrigation schemes so that farmers crops are less affected.

Ralph Roothaert, Oxfam's  Programme Coordinator in Tanzania, said: "This funding will help women and men small-holder producers to build their skills and, together with others, negotiate for better access to land and water, agricultural production and trade. 

"It will make farmers more resilient to the effects of climate change by introducing drought tolerant rice varieties. And we will enhance learning so that other organisations and developing countries can benefit from these important lessons.

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

More by Jamie Livingstone