Building demand for, and access to, improved input markets across the Southern Highlands including the production and dissemination of improved planting material, contractor and extension services in support of best silviculture practices, and strengthening market integration of private tree growers.
The overall competitiveness of commercial forestry in Tanzania is hampered by limited production of, and access to, quality genetic material which severely limits plantation productivity and quality. While industrial plantation companies with nurseries have access to improved seed from imports and run their own nurseries, independent nurseries are typically provided with seed through informal distribution channels of poor quality seed, producing and selling unimproved seedlings. Most small and medium tree growers are unaware of the existence or the benefits of improved tree planting materials, and there is no quality assurance of seedlings.
Lack of awareness of potential of improved planting material and knowledge of species suitability (species-site-market matching) among nursery operators and tree growers is a major constraint. Others include high transport costs for seedlings and access to finance for nursery operators and tree growers. Meanwhile, there is wide range in the quality of plantation quality as a result of varied establishment and management practices. Contractors exist and provide services mostly around land acquisition, land preparation, seedling provision, planting, weeding and fire control; currently, no services are offered around thinning, valuation and marketing.
The Trust is focussing on increasing demand for, and access to, improved input markets by tree growers including improved planting material and skills and knowledge services for tree growers of all sizes. In this way, the raising of high quality woodlots will enable farmers generate higher household incomes. The Trust is working with Tanzanian seed companies to develop market driven capacity to source, package and distribute improved tree seeds. For example, Jambe Agro is now actively trading, marketing and developing distribution channels targeting small to medium scale growers throughout the Southern Highlands.
The Trust also targets independent commercial nurseries to raise seedlings from improved seeds and provide advisory support to small and medium tree growers as part of their service offering. Capacity building is being provided to a core group of around 100 nurseries, which is influencing other nurseries to adopt similar business and technical practices. The Trust is also testing to see how marketing promotion can encourage nursery operators to increase the number of small grower clients.
The success of the supporting markets providing access to improved planting material depends on widespread demand among tree growers. Building on recently-developed national technical guidelines for plantation and woodlot management, the Trust is delivering, or facilitating market actors to deliver, awareness raising and training activities, including radio programmes, printed learning materials, video screenings, and training efforts. Kiswahili material available for training and extension workers include various leaflets on nursery management, woodlot establishment and woodlot management, as well as videos on species-site-market considerations, nursery management and woodlot establishment. Various measurement materials, including a leaflet and presentation, are available for Kisolanza plantation demonstration site.
In addition, the Trust is reaching out to urban-based Tanzanian investors who are establishing tree plantations in the southern highlands, in order to explore the optimal ways to improve the quality of their plantations, thereby spearheading the demand for out-grower systems, advisory services and the introduction of standards and certification services. Improvements to plantation management practices by medium-scale investors is also expected to have a direct influencing, ‘spill-over’ effect on small scale growers.
Sector vision for input supply, plantation management and advisory services
Seed distribution: Effective commercially driven distribution channels exist linking sources of quality and diverse seed with commercial nursery operators of all scales. Distribution of poorer quality local seed is displaced as commercial nurseries recognise and demand quality supported by effective advisory services. In the short-term, quality seed is imported from countries with tree breeding programmes. In the medium term, this is supplemented form quality seed orchards.
Seedling and clonal production and sale / distribution: There is a diverse network of nursery operating models adopting best practices and optimal business management. These are commercially viable and able to provide all scales of commercial grower with a diverse range of quality planting material suited to their site conditions and end market objectives.
Plantation establishment and management: Tree growers have access to high quality silviculture services in accordance with their market objectives through a variety of commercially viable service providers offering a complete range of services. Channels for service delivery includes but is not limited to contractors and industrial plantation out grower services. Service providers have the necessary skills and knowledge as per accepted industry standards.
Access to silvicultural advisory services: Tree growers of all sizes have access to silvicultural best practice advice in accordance with their market objectives delivered through a variety of channels including: nursery operators, industrial extension services, commercial advisors.