SERA Quarterly Report: January – March, 2015

The Tanzania SERA Policy Project (SERA) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future (FtF) Initiative is implemented by Booz Allen Hamilton. The SERA Project is focused on improving the policy environment for agriculture, and developing individual and institutional capacity to undertake policy analysis and advocate effectively for policy reforms. SERA began in April 2011, and completed the third full year of operation on 30 September 2014. This Quarterly Report, Quarter 2 (Q2) of Project Year 4 (Y4), covers the period from 1 January 2015 to 31 March 2015.

The SERA Policy Project was very busy in the second quarter with the presentation of an important workshop and the start of several new activities. However, access to Government officials was limited by the busy schedule of Government staff as they prepared for the budget discussions in May and June, and national elections in October. SERA was advised that Government officials and staff were likely to be even less available for the next several months because of these obligations. Consequently, SERA activities were focused on completing existing projects where possible, and developing research and capacity building activities with non‐Government stakeholders.

Finally, there were several changes in senior leadership within the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania (GoT); a new Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC), Honorable Stephen Wasira, and a new Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments (MLHHSD), Honorable William Lukuvi.

Important SERA work activities in Q2 included:

  • Presentation of the workshop on Policy Options for Food Security, Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction to GoT,
  • Support to the Rice Council of Tanzania (RCT) for their first strategic plan workshop,
  • Start of the Rapid Assessment of the Rice Sector with RCT,
  • Development of a draft Concept Note for the SERA‐led study of the Business Environment in Tanzanian Agriculture,
  • Development of a draft Term of Reference (TOR) for a study of Gender in Maize Marketing; a study to be undertaken jointly with the World Bank (WB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC),
  • Discussion with iAGRI on Phase 2 of the Policy Seminar Series, and,
  • Discussions with the MAFC Seed Unit and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on seed policy.

A rapid assessment of the rice market was completed in response to media reports that rice prices were rising rapidly. The assessment was provided to the Rice Council of Tanzania and the Department of Food Security of the MAFC. (Annex1). The research on Drivers of Maize Prices in Tanzania, completed jointly with the World Bank, was accepted for presentation at the International Association of Agricultural Economics (IAAE) in Milan, Italy in August 2015 and will be jointly presented by Don Mitchell, Senior Advisor of SERA and John Baffes, Senior Economist at the World Bank. Discussions are on‐going with the Department of Food Security of the MAFC on the implementation of the Food Basket Methodology (FBM) to measure the cost of a typical food basket in each region, and the Department has been requested to propose a pilot study to implement the FBM. The development of a collateral registry system by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) was delayed due to other priorities of the BoT. The study of Land Compensation and Benefits Sharing Schemes undertaken by Landesa, an international non‐governmental organization (NGO) specializing in land issue, with SERA support was also delayed due to the change in Ministers at the MLHHSD . Edith Lazaro joined SERA as a research associate in February and she will study food demand in Tanzania. Don Mitchell, the Senior Advisor to SERA Project completed two trips to Tanzania (17 – 31 January 2015 and 18 February – 8 March 2015). SERA was not actively involved in policy research or capacity building on Zanzibar in Q2.

The workshop on Policy Options for Food Security, Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction was presented on 27 February to GoT officials and invited guests (Policy Options Workshop). The workshop was hosted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and chaired by Mr. Peniel Lyimo of the Big Results Now (BRN) activity on agriculture. The presentations were well received and the summary of the workshop, policy recommendations and actions are attached as Annex 2. The background papers will be finalized in Q3 and made available on the SERA website at Mr. Lyimo concluded the workshop by noting that there were no strong objections to the 24 recommendations presented at the Policy Options Workshop and that many of the recommendations required only administrative approval and could be implemented quickly. The SERA Project will follow up with GoT to develop a prioritization and implementation plan. The USAID NAFAKA Staples Value Chain Activity supported the workshop with two international consultants who provided background papers and presentations.

The SERA Project moved forward with two capacity building support activities for the Rice Council of Tanzania namely, hosting a strategic planning workshop and conducting a rapid market assessment of the rice sector. The strategic planning workshop was held in March and the draft plan will be finalized and presented to stakeholders in Q3 (Annex 3). Phase 1 of the rapid assessment of the rice market started with a team traveling to Morogoro, Iringa and Mbeye for an initial field assessment (Annex 4). Phase 2 of the field assessment will be completed in Q3, as well as the final report. A draft Concept Note on the Business Environment in Tanzanian Agriculture was developed in Q2 (Annex 5) and meetings were held with senior officials of the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Center and BRN. The activity will be led by SERA in collaboration with the SAGCOT Centre, BRN and the MAFC. It will look at how the agricultural business environment in Tanzania compares with that in neighbouring countries. It will build on work done by the BRN, World Bank, and other organizations and seeksto better understand why investment in Tanzanian agriculture is low compared to other countries and other sectors in Tanzania. Initial interviews were conducted with key experts and insights gained were used in the preparation of the Concept Note.

A draft TOR on Gender in Maize Marketing (Annex 6) was developed by SERA for a joint study with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation. The proposed study will conduct farmer surveys in two regions to study maize marketing by men versus women farmers and after adjusting for quality and other factors, will try to determine whether female farmers receive lower prices for their maize. The study’s findings may lead to programs to reduce these differences through marketing education or information directed to women maize farmers. The WB and IFC used the TOR to secure financing from a donor and invited qualified firms to express interest in undertaking the study. The response was large, with 39 firms expressing interest and 6 were short‐listed to provide a proposal for the research. The study will be undertaken in Q3 and SERA Project will then continue the study in Q4.

The SERA team met with the iAGRI team in Q2 to discuss the second phase of the Policy Seminar Series at Sokoine University (SUA). The Policy Seminar Series was initially developed by SERA and jointly sponsored by SERA and iAGRI. Its objective is to encourage policy research by providing financial support to teams undertaking research on agricultural or nutrition policy issues of importance to FtF. Support is provided on a competitive basis and the first series of four studies was completed in Y3. The quality of some of the research was not acceptable and a more focused approach will be used in the second phase to try and improve quality. The second phase of the Policy Seminar Series will focus on land issues.

Seed policy has been a priority of SERA Project since Year 1 and previous efforts have focused on improving the tax treatment of seeds and seed packaging materials. This effort culminated in Y3 with a presentation by the MAFC Seed Unit and the Tanzania Seed Traders Association (TASTA) with SERA support to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) committee on taxation. However, severe budget constraints of GoT made it difficult to obtain tax relief and SERA Project will now focus on other policy issues. In that regard, meetings were held with the Seed Unit of MAFC and with AGRA staff in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam to identify important policy constraints to expanded use of improved seeds. Several issues were identified and SERA will work closely with the MAFC Seed Unit to address them. SERA will partner with AGRA to leverage resources and impacts, and will provide leadership on policy issues.

The SERA Project faced implementation challenges due to delays by key counterparts in the GoT in completing agreed work activities. In particular, progress on the collateral registry/secured transaction system, undertaken by the Bank of Tanzania was not achieved as the BoT did not complete work on the legal framework as planned; the National Food Security Department (NFSD) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC) did not submit a proposal to pilot the implementation of the Food Basket Methodology as agreed; and discussions on the Data Harmonization workshop have not taken place.

The SERA Project works closely with other development partners in an effort to leverage resources and increase effectiveness. In Q2, SERA concluded an on‐going activity with the USAID FtF NAFAKA Staples Value Chain Activity to undertake research on trade policy and food security policy with the delivery of the Policy Options for Food Security, Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction paper on 27 February. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also collaborated with SERA on food security, consumer demand, and the Food Basket Methodology to measure food basket costs at the regional level. SERA also partnered with iAGRI to sponsor the Policy Seminar Series at Sokoine University and that activity continues. More recently, SERA has collaborated with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation on the gender in maize marketing study and with AGRA on seed policy. SERA has also collaborated with private sector organizations, including TASTA to improve seed policy and, this quarter, began a collaboration with AGRA on seed policy.


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