It was a one day constitutional annual meeting of more than 700 smallholder farmers, members of MVIWATA Kilimanjaro regional branch in the northern part of Tanzania that took place on 13th August 2020. Held at Bomang’ombe, KKKT Conference hall, alongside members of MVIWATA, Kilimanjaro branch, the meeting also welcomed smallholder farmers from Arusha, Tanga and Manyara. Also media, regional and district government officials and stakeholders from Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) and Moshi Co-operative University (MoCU).
With the annual meeting agendas on the table that included submission and approval of work plans, submission of implementation reports before the members, the meeting also had an intensive discussion on two important matters, one being, literally, “The role of smallholder farmers in electing good leaders for 2020 general election” facilitated by Sabatho Nyamsenda and the second one being “New Microfinance Regulations in Tanzania and its Implications to Smallholder Farmers” facilitated by Hai District Co-operative Officer Mr Swai Erasto.
The meeting was attended by Regional Commissioner (RC) for Kilimanjaro as a Guest of Honour through his representative Mr David Lekei a District Agriculture, Irrigation and Cooperative Officer (DAICO) for Hai District. Mr Lucas Laiser a MVIWATA Chairman for Kilimanjaro regional branch while welcoming the RC said “nothing shall knock down the power of united and organised group, be it challenges on inputs, prices and markets or land conflicts”.
In his foreword, the RC commended smallholder farmers for their massive participation to the meeting and in joining hands with their fellow smallholder producers nationwide under the national umbrella of MVIWATA. Mr David Lekei also acknowledged the commendable work done by MVIWATA in bringing together smallholder farmers through their producer groups and networks in protecting their interests through capacity development, facilitating communication and advocacy on policies and systems.
Mr Stephen Ruvuga a MVIWATA Executive Director said during the meeting that smallholder farmers faces a number of challenges be it on inputs or markets, land or climate change. He further added that such challenges including many more can easily be addressed when those affected comes together with one strong voice, unity and solidarity under the national umbrella of smallholder farmers in Tanzania which is MVIWATA.
Mr Ruvuga reminded the participants of the meeting on the words said by Prime Minister of Tanzania Hon Kassim Majaliwa during the commemoration of 25 years of MVIWATA at Jamhuri Stadium Morogoro on October 2nd 2018 when he represented His Excellency John P. Magufuli the President of United Republic of Tanzania that “MVIWATA shall be the voice of smallholder farmers in Tanzania and the challenges smallholder farmers face should be well coordinated by MVIWATA to be effectively addressed by the government in collaboration with MVIWATA”.
About the presentation themed “New Microfinance Regulations in Tanzania and its Implications to Smallholder Farmers” facilitated by Hai District Co-operative Officer Mr Swai Erasto, members of MVIWATA had a number of contributions including stating the obvious non participation or rather minimal participation of smallholder producers who are the affected group by the enacted law.
Farmers said the law did not contextualize the realities of microfinance services mostly the Village Community Bank (VICOBA) of which most of them are basically non-business services to be required to obtain a formal license with annual fees from the Central Bank.
In his presentation Mr Sabatho a faculty member from University of Dar es salaam urged smallholder producers to campaign strongly their agendas during the general election 2020. He further said candidates in line with smallholder producers agendas are the ones to be supported while paying close attention to the progress of implementation of the agendas.
Citing numerous examples of countries where the working class mobilized themselves in unity and solidarity, Mr Sabatho said they finally managed to put in power their candidates. He added that such achievements are impossible without unity and solidarity.
“The war between grasshoppers is the happiness of crow” said Mr Sabatho to the enthusiastic members of MVIWATA during the meeting indicating that misunderstanding and disunity among them benefits none of them but those exploiting their sweats and resources.
The meeting finally ended with the submission and approval of annual regional plan that was approved by the members. The plans mostly focused on capacity building of MVIWATA members on advocacy, leadership, microfinance services and production issues. Also market linkage for the produce of smallholder farmers, enhanced communication of producer groups and networks strengthening as well as membership mobilisation were integral part of the meeting.
“THE DEFENDER OF THE FARMER IS A FARMER”.