The SERA Policy Project saw several significant accomplishments in the third quarter, but also delays in completing major activities due to scheduling conflicts with important counterparts, delays in getting approval for activities, and the need to focus efforts on new policy challenges that emerged. Despite these delays, there were major accomplishments in policy analysis, capacity building, and communications and advocacy. Major accomplishments in policy analysis included: preparation of a policy paper on duty‐free rice imports, jointly supporting a team from Associates for International Resources and Development (AIRD) with the Staples Value Chain Project (NAFAKA) to study the contribution of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to food security and the impact of export and import permits on food crops trade, submission of a request to the Government of Tanzania (GoT) for more favorable tax treatment of agricultural seeds, fielding a team from Landesa to investigate land compensation and benefits sharing schemes, and preparation of a research proposal on rice demand and competitiveness to the World Bank for funding. However, the rice market study for Zanzibar was not completed due to work on other activities and the Food Security Workshop was delayed until Q4. The presentation of policy research sponsored under the Policy Seminar Series at Sokoine University has been delayed due to slow progress by researchers.
Our capacity building activities included continued support to the Zanzibar Food Security and Nutrition Department (FSND) of the Zanzibar Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT), and the mainland’s Department of Food Security of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC). Activities with the Zanzibar Food Security and Nutrition Department included completing Phase One ‐ Review of the Food Security and Nutrition Program and facilitating the drafting of Phase Two ‐ Strategic Prioritization Plan, initiating a review of the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) – Zanzibar branch, and outlining a strategy for FSND’s Program Monitoring and Performance Plan. A two‐day workshop for 16 members of the FSND team and representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was held to present the findings of Phase One ‐ Review of Food Security and Nutrition Program, engage participants in a stakeholders mapping exercise, review relevant legislation, and identify key priorities for Phase Two. Support to ACT was provided enabling 40 members to attend the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) 2013 Annual Conference in Dar es Salaam on May 13‐14, 2013. A staff member from ACT also participated in the NFRA review conducted by the AIRD team in order to increase linkages with ACT and to develop the staff member’s individual capacity. The capacity building support to ACT is now largely complete and future capacity building efforts will be directed towards other organizations and individuals. Our capacity building activities with the mainland’s Department of Food Security included continued support for the development of the food basket approach to estimating food requirements and support for a staff member from the Department of Food Security to participate in the NFRA review. Support to the Department will continue through collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) team developing the food basket methodology and training staff on the estimation procedures. Individual capacity building through support to the Policy Seminar Series at Sokoine University has not progressed as planned due to the slow delivery of research papers by the four teams selected in the competitive grants process that was conducted in Q1. Renewed efforts to encourage the researchers to complete their work will be undertaken in Q4.
The SERA website was completed, but was not launched as planned in this quarter as we await United States Agency for International Development (USAID) approval. However, the Branding and Marking Plan was approved, which constitutes an essential milestone before the website could be submitted for approval. Our focus on developing a comprehensive database continued and a comparison of rice prices from the GoT, the private sector, and the East Africa Grain Council (EAGC) was completed as part of a policy review of rice imports. We expect to complete the database of monthly wholesale and retail food crop prices for 20 regions before the end of the current project year. The database will include data from 2000. New office furniture and equipment were purchased during the quarter following the renewal of our office lease for another two year. Collaboration with government and development partners continued and SERA has achieved an excellent reputation for quality analysis and responsiveness to client needs. Finally, approval from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) to develop the Secured Transaction (Collateral Registry) was received after almost two years of discussion, and is a major development in our efforts to provide greater access to credit at affordable rates.
Challenges to the SERA project have been primarily with counterpart delays and scheduling conflicts that have slowed the delivery of activities. The Food Security Workshops for GoT and all stakeholders was planned for Q3 but has been delayed until Q4; this has required rescheduling venues and services. However past challenges, such as obtaining timely data, has improved due to the close working relationship developed with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT), and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The SERA Project has collaborated with other FtF implementing partners and other stakeholders to improve policy and build capacity in the agricultural sector, including: jointly sponsoring the Policy Seminar Series at Sokoine University with FtF implementing partner iAGRI; working with FtF implementing partner NAFAKA in supporting the AIRD team to review NFRA’s contributions to the national food security system; co‐sponsoring the Policy Seminar Series with iAGRI; engaging WANZA BORA project to develop a capacity building activity for the Zanzibar FSND; and planning capacity building support for institutional performance monitoring with FtF implementing partner The Mitchell Group (TMG). The SERA Project has also developed a closer working relationship with SAGCOT following the appointment of a new Executive Director and has recently assisted them with activities related to rice imports and seed policy. The SERA Project continues to collaborate with the Tanzania Seed Traders Association (TASTA), the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Agriculture Non‐State Actors Forum (ANSAF), and EAGC and FAO; these working relationships continue on important policy issues and capacity building activities. Collaboration with FAO included discussion of the Strategic Grain Reserve on Zanzibar and discussions on food security on the mainland. Discussions are also underway with the FAO’s Southern Highlands Food Systems Program on improving marketing of agricultural commodities. In addition, the SERA Project continued to work closely with the USDA’s Economic and Research Service (ERS) to support the MAFC’s Department of Food Security. The SERA Policy team also met with and supported a team from Fintrac that was reviewing the policies of the seed sector. A joint research proposal on rice demand and competitiveness was prepared with the World Bank.