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OAF Drivers Loading Maize

Taking the Market to the Farmer

Even when farmers have good harvests, a lack of market access prevents them from running businesses that truly thrive. Here's how One Acre Fund is solving rural Tanzania's market access problem.

When Having Good Harvests Alone Isn't Enough...

A 61-year-old mother of three, Germana Nevele had farmed for decades, but with little success. Her harvest was often a meager six bags, barely enough to feed her family. Even in good years, a lack of access to markets meant there were no opportunities for Germana to sell any surplus she grew.

In 2013, Germana heard about One Acre Fund and was impressed by the loan offering. She decided to join, hoping to earn a larger profit from her harvest. In her first season with One Acre Fund, Germana enrolled for one acre of land and harvested more than 16 bags of maize.

“I used to help other people to weed their farms to get money to buy extra food and pay for the education of my children,” she says. “Now, I never work for other people.”

For many Tanzanian farmers like Germana, poor harvests are just one of the barriers they face in the fight to achieve food security. Lack of access to markets is another barrier—poor roads and lack of infrastructure, long distances to the nearest towns, and high transportation costs prevent farmers from selling their harvest surplus and turning their farms into profitable businesses.

Germana Tanzanian Smallholder Germana stands with her bags of her maize.

How We Are Solving the Issue of Market Access

To help farmers truly maximize their farm income, One Acre Fund is trialling a market access program in Iringa, Tanzania. In September 2014, One Acre Fund offered to purchase up to three bags of maize per farmer, and collected 150 metric tons of maize from farmers across 13 villages in the region. During the 2015 season, we adjusted the trial to test buying as much maize as each farmer would like to sell, and collected more than 250 metric tons of maize across 16 villages.

After purchasing maize from farmers, One Acre Fund is able to sell it in bulk quantities to large processing companies. In this way, we’re helping smallholder farmers reach markets they would not otherwise be able to access.

Germana watches her maize harvest pickup Germana watches on as bags of her maize are loaded onto a One Acre Fund truck.

“We want farmers to be able to maximize their farm income to improve their lives,” Veronica Kindole, a manager on the One Acre Fund scale innovations team, says. “We innovate based on what farmers say they need.”

Germana is just one of the farmers who has been impacted by this new program. Now, she no longer worries about whether she’ll be able to sell her surplus at market. She knows that come harvest time, she can count on selling her maize at a reasonable price.

“I am so happy that now I can sell my maize right from my village with the same price as it is in town,” Germana says.

One Acre Fund is in the process of collecting data on the trial, and will determine next steps based on our findings and feedback from farmers. For Germana, gaining access to this market opportunity has already resulted in less uncertainty, more cash in her pocket, and a year of schooling for her children. We look forward to sharing more stories about the impact of this trial on the farmers we serve.

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