“We don’t see benefits of WTO,” say smallholder farmers

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Participants attended WTO dialogue in Morogoro

Smallholder farmers through their National network of farmers groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA) have stated that they do not see any benefits for the country to continue being a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with a belief that it supports the smallholder farmers.
The latter is the only international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.
Speaking at the meeting in Morogoro organized by MVIWATA to discuss the position of smallholder farmers in WTO and the Tanzanian government standing, the farmers blamed the government for not engaging them fully in planning and addressing issues affecting their welfare which in turn result to hampering in national agricultural development.
“Our country does not value our inputs to various national and international agreements. The government Officials do not consult us and address our needs, as a result they end up signing agreements, develop policies and programmes which do not reflect our reality” said Habibu Simbamkuti, a smallholder farmer from Kilombero.
He said most farmers were unaware of the opportunities and benefits present for the country being a member of the WTO and how they could directly benefit as smallholder farmers.
“We feel that we were not prepared enough to take advantages of such markets. We have so far not fully realized the potential of the regional (East Africa) market and yet the government insists on us to explore international market opportunities. We are of the opinion that we will not benefit from the international markets due to lack of preparedness,” he said.
“The government needs to put conducive environment for smallholder farmers to do farming profitably in the country or in the region before entering the international markets, which have entry barriers imposed by strict regulations from WTO” said Mr. Ndeshukuriwa Mbise, a smallholder farmer from Arusha
On her side, Veronica Sophu, MVIWATA chairperson emphasized that if the government persists on having smallholder farmers’ participation in the international markets, then it ought to establish a trade system that favors them to enter and compete in such markets.
“We need the system in place that will enable us to produce and supply desirable quality and quantity of agricultural products in order to be able to compete with other traders from other countries in the international market” said Sophu.
Explaining the process, a representative from Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ernest Elius said farmers can only reap from such markets if they can produce and pack high quality products meeting standards set by WTO and passed by the country bureau of standards.
He agreed that small scale farmers needed incentives such as subsidized farm inputs so that they could raise productivity and quality of produce and be able to compete with farmers from other developed countries.
The dialogue organized by MVIWATA entailed to raise smallholder farmers’ awareness on various international business and food security opportunities available in which small producers could reap from.

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Participants attended WTO dialogue in Morogoro

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