A. ONGOING RESEARCH
1. The Impact of Volatile Tea Prices in Rural Tanzania: A gender perspective
Tea production an important contributor of the Tanzanian output and income; it is the fourth largest export agricultural product and the largest employer of the rural population. However, being a price taker in the regional and international tea markets, recent tea price volatility could be more detrimental to smallholder farmers in rural Tanzania, particularly net producers who are highly dependent on export proceeds from tea production who do have alternative sources of income, particularly to women. Yet studies that evaluate the impact of volatile prices on tea producers in Africa are limited. This study seeks to explore the gender perspective in examining production and consumption effects of volatile tea prices in rural areas of Tanzania. The proposed research is important as it will provide insights into the constraints faced by tea producers and how these constraints affect consumption patterns, intra-household labour allocation decisions and gender response.
This research work is carried out by Dr. Threza L. Mtenga (Tanzania) and Dr. Mamello A. Nchake (Lesotho). Funded by AERC.
B. RESEARCH THEMES – Under Proposal Writing:
1. Bringing Entrepreneurs back to school
The education system in Tanzania screens students at grade seven and 12 mostly. The drop outs from the process of screening join entrepreneurship activities like food vending, welding and fabrication activities, chicken raising, vegetable growing, and the so. This is a resort from lack of appropriate employment for them. However, whatever they self-employ on; they lack the appropriate training so they can’t make out their products to the required quality.
Again, the primary school education system runs from 8 am to 3 pm. After that the classes are vacant until the next day and during Fridays and Sundays. Our institute is thinking to research on how bestly, we can bring back entrepreneurs to school when primary school students have gone home, so that they be trained on their relevant expertise to upgrade their skills and knowledge so as to improve their efficiency, productivity and quality of their products. Eventually this will bring about improved lives.
This proposal is written by Dr. George J. Mkoma (Tanzania), Athanas Sing’ambi (Tanzania) and Calist Chami (Tanzania)
2. Cultivation and analysis of health impact of Spirulina platensis in Tanzania.
It is apparently evident that the rapidly increasing world population is posing a challenge of providing necessary food sources and the present agricultural production systems cannot be sufficiently relied upon. Among the food sources, protein supply becomes more challenging due to irreplaceable nature of essential amino acids hence calling for an urgent need to find alternative protein sources. Spirulina platensis, which is a unicellular and filamentous blue-green algae that is found in the tropical regions under very high alkaline conditions, can provide the best source of protein. It contains high nutritional content characterized by a 70% protein content ranking it the best among plant world, more than that of soya bean besides being rich in macronutrients and micronutrients.
Together with being a suitable protein source, Spirulina platensis can also resolve to far much extent, the problem of malnutrition that has remained a major complication of HIV disease and a public health. Indeed it has been reported that most patients with HIV and AIDS die because of their poor nutritional status as compared to those who die from the disease itself. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the diet of people living with HIV-AIDS should be supplemented with macronutrients and micronutrients that spirulina should readily provide.
Our institution intends to initiate a research project investigating the best optimized conditions required to cultivate Spirulina platensis in Kilimanjaro region and later evaluate the impact of the product on the many people with HIV and those who are malnourished before we scale the production to serve the lager population of Tanzania, East Africa and sub-saharan countries. There is no any research of this kind that has ever been carried in Tanzania and any positive result on this research work will be highly beneficial to the people.
This proposal is written by Dr. David Nyakundi Onchonga (Tanzania)
C. RESEARCH THEMES – On consideration
1. Social Security/Insurance
Motor vehicle and Health insurance are the two insurance products that have very much been promoted by the government of Tanzania. There are a lot of potential areas which, if guided by research, insurance can fetch/tap a lot of market. Tanzania doesn’t have a pension scheme for farmers, entrepreneurs and all the people who are self-employed. Even ordinary insurance products are not working with them. Our institute needs to work out in researching on insurance products and pension schemes that are suitable for farmers, entrepreneurs, business community and the so.
Also, there are times when farmers reap a lot of cash when they sell their agricultural produce. But, again they suffer for many months of the year by not having any income from selling their produce, as they are at off season. Now, our institute needs to think critically and research on what can be done to cushion the income levels of the farmers in Tanzania, especially, those who work in main cash crops like cashew-nuts, coffee, cotton and tea.
2. Microfinance (Financial Inclusion) – Linking Participants to the larger economy
Tanzania has worked since 2001 to form Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) and Village Community Banks (VICOBAs) as part of efforts to bring about financial inclusion to marginalized people especially those living in rural areas whom were almost excluded by the formal financial systems (the Banks) because of transaction costs of reaching them. VSLAs and VICOBAs are community based financial groups which are formed by around 30 people per group, whom contribute their savings to form loan capital and eventually lend each other at interest. This has worked out very good in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. Tanzania has around 100,000 plus such groups with membership of around 2.2 million out of a population of 54 million Tanzanians.
Now, our research institute is thinking critically, on how we can connect these type of groups to the larger economy by letting them sell their shares into the Stock Market, the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE). We think so because, the groups meet every week to make savings. The savings are in terms of shares – every member buys shares between one to five in a week, depending on her economic strength. Now, these shares can be registered into DSE and then sold in the market.
3. Connecting the Demand and Supply sides of Agricultural Produce
Connecting the marginalized agricultural producers to markets (value chain and Out-grower system). The ordinary agricultural producers are not connected to markets for their produce. Most of time you find big buyers of the produce do float their advertisement for buying the same products. As a result, middlemen and aggregators are the ones who benefit the most by buying the products at very cheap prices from farmers and sell at very high prices given by foreign buyers. Hence, the middlemen and aggregators accrue high profits that the farmers who toil in producing the products.
Our institute is thinking to research on how the marginalized farmers can be linked to big buyers so they can produce and supply direct to the big buyers and benefit from the high prices. This is to do away with middlemen and aggregators – to shorten the supply chain for the benefit of marginalized farmers.